Conference calls remain a bane of any business worker's professional existence. San Francisco startup Biba Systems thinks it has a better idea, a new app released today for Android, iOS and OS X that may improve the conference call experience.
The new app doesn't just take on conference calls, but also enterprise instant messaging and unified communications. The idea is to eliminate common logistical issues like dropped calls, dialing in to ever-changing conference numbers with differing passcodes and — my favorite — people who should be putting themselves on mute and haven't.
In other words, "conference calls have been the same crappy experience for the last 15 years," said Bibi CEO Carlin Wiegner. Biba wants to change all that.
The app, which Biba demonstrated to me while I was on the phone with Wiegner, has some interesting features. You can see who's on the call in real time, instead of getting a "you are the X caller of Y callers, including you" message. So no more roll calls whenever someone new beeps in or gets dropped and beeps out.
You can also mute others on the line. This is great when someone is calling from a noisy coffee shop or happens to be the world's loudest typist. Instant messaging is also part of the app, as is auto-calling and camping on a user for when they come online.
The fact that the application is cross-platform and has a desktop version is also useful, Wiegner explained, since conversations can start on one platform and continue on another, if need be.
Of course, the experience wasn't perfect. The Biba app can connect to calls via IP or cellular connection. If you choose a cellular connection, the app will immediately send your phone the correct number and passcode, which is auto-dialed.
But I did learn that if you select to use an IP connection (which I prefer in my home office, given that it's practically a Faraday cage with all the plaster walls) and someone calls you on the cellular connection, the Biba call is instantly dropped. This happened twice before I learned you could just switch to the cellular connection. But, sadly, that dropped too.
From a participant's point of view, the Biba experience was not much better than what a lot of my past conference calls have been like. Yes, it was nice not to have to dial in a bunch of numbers, and seeing the status of other users on the call was nice. And enterprise messaging across multiple platforms is something there can always be more of.
The bumps in the demo call, though, lead me to note that any company using Biba should be make sure their users are well-versed in the app in order to prevent headaches like those I experienced. Once that small training curve is surmounted, though, the Biba app should be a worthy player in the enterprise messaging space.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.