Yugma Skype opens-up the door to contextual, just-in-time collaboration, making it possible for any existing Skype user to start screen-sharing, live annotating or giving remote control of the screen to anyone in a few mouse clicks. What's more impressive is that Yugma for Skype supports up to ten concurrent users and is absolutely free.
Yugma, a dynamic young company I have reviewed before on Kolabora.com, pushes further in its efforts to make its screen-sharing offering as appealing and useful as possible.
By offering a free Skype plug-in, Yugma takes the best route available to those companies wanting to build a significantly larger user base without the marketing costs that this would normally entail. In my view this is a super-effective strategy and I have personally been recommending it to several small companies I have consulted with in the last year or more. Yugma has been the very first one to truly listen.
In addition, Yugma Skype has added some unique additional features that should motivate many early adopters: a new file sharing function, a scheduling and invitation facility, session recording, and support for audiences of up to 500 users. And while these are all Premium features available only to paying subscribers, in a very smart tactical marketing move Yugma makes all of such Premium features available to anyone free for the first 15 days of use.
Novices and non-technical users who need a simple screen-sharing, web presentation or remote support solution are going to be very happy with this new Yugma offering as it makes their life easy while providing them with a bunch of useful extras and a zero price to start with.
Advanced users, who have already been using competing screen-sharing solutions may not find a possible switch to Yugma Skype as compelling, especially when price is not a factor and what counts the most are performance, reliability and ease of use. Outside of the cool and useful new Skype invitation facility, Yugma has in fact still a way to go to match its key competitor(s) performance, toolset and usability levels.
"Yugma is a free web collaboration service that enables people to instantly connect over the Internet to communicate and share content and ideas using any application or software. Whether you are using Windows, Mac or Linux computer, you can connect on-demand and in real-time with co-workers, clients, friends and family - regardless of whether they are across the city, nation or even the globe.
The name Yugma is a word derived from the Sanskrit language meaning "the state of being in unified collaboration."
Yugma Skype Overview
Yugma Skype launches officially today after an extended beta testing period providing. Yugma Skype provides some premier collaboration features to the everyday Skype user wanting to showcase, train, demo or give technical support via her computer screen by offering a free screen-sharing facility, for up to ten attendees, with integrated markup and live annotation tools.
Yugma Skype is a new sister product to the Yugma Standard Edition, which has been available for a few months now, and with which it shares its core screen-sharing engine.
The Yugma Skype Edition builds upon Skype's offering by adding screen sharing. Once Yugma Skype Edition in installed, you simply invite a friend or colleague from your existing Skype contact list, which is directly accessible from within Yugma and you are set to go.
Key to Yugma' Skype integration is essentially an invitation facility allowing the user to easily "see" and invite, just-in-time, any or all of her Skype contacts. Better yet, contacts that are not reachable via Skype can be invited as well by leveraging a dead-simple email invitation option Yugma provides.
All free registered users have also access to an annotation and markup toolset and CAN fully leverage the ability to switch the "presenter" role to anyone of the attendees. Yes, the Yugma session host (essentially the person who has started the meeting) can "pass" the presenter role to anyone allowing any attendee to become a presenter with full screen-sharing abilities.
What Premium paying users (starting at $9.95/mo) get in addition to the basic toolset described above and available to everyone is
a) mouse and keyboard sharing / remote control,
b) a new file sharing tool,
c) a scheduling facility,
d) webinar support,
e) email and phone support
f) (upcoming) recording (and in-session playback) feature.
As I have mentioned in the introduction all of these features are available to you immediately, even if you sign-up for the free basic account, as Yugma has decided to offer them to all users for the first fifteen days after sign-up.
That's a great way to let users find out what your product can do and to allow them enough time for familiarizing themselves with the different facilities.
- Unlimited screen-sharing for up to 11 people
This is probably by itself the key competitive offering that makes the Yugma offering so interesting. Though there are other free screen-sharing tools out there none that I recall provides free screen-sharing for these many concurrent users.
Yugma Skype works already on both PCs and Macs thanks to two Skype plugins already available online. The Linux version should be available soon.
- Invite directly Skype contacts
As soon as you are logged in your Yugma client you can immediately start inviting your Skype contacts. If your Skype tool is running at the same time, the Yugma invitation facility will provide you with direct access to all of your live contacts.
- Invite everyone else via an integrated email invitation facility
Those that are not live via Skype can be easily invited thanks to an excellent and easy-to-use integrated email invitation facility.
- Whiteboard and live annotation tools
Yugma integrates a full markup and live annotation toolset that can be used to either annotate live documents or web pages being shown as well as to draw and annotate on an empty canvas. The whiteboarding toolkit integrates a screen-capture facility as well as the ability to open up existing images saved on your hard disk.
- Mouse and keyboard sharing
Mouse and keyboard control can be handed over to other attendees and vice versa. With a simple mouse click you can allow someone else to control your keyboard as if she was sitting at your desk (e.g.: a remote technician who wants to troubleshoot your PC), or do the opposite, by having an attendee give you the control of her keyboard and mouse and allowing you to showcase her a specific procedure right on her machine. Only one user at a time can have control.
- Schedule sessions
Here you have the opportunity to schedule upcoming sessions through a dedicated facility. Definitely a helpful addition. The scheduling facility is compatible both with Outlook and Webmail based accounts.
- Built-in file-sharing
Each Yugma user has now available a project space which can store up to 100 MB of unlimited files. Differently than Skype therefore, Yugma provides a true shared workspace storage facility on its servers, where users can upload and then distribute to individual users any of their documents or application files.
While increasingly an industry choice in terms of marketing and sales strategy, Yugma is certainly well ahead of its direct competitors when it comes to marketing innovation and aggressive pricing opportunities. Its key offering is free and as it supports up to ten users at absolutely no cost to you, this is a positive key strength.
Coming very soon to Yugma Skype are also:
- Record of screen sharing sessions
From what I have learned from Karel Lukas, this is coming very soon (within the next 45 days). I have not been able to test any early prototype and I don't know therefore how good and reliable the quality of this recording will be. From what I know it will NOT include audio recording and it will record in a proprietary format that will be viewable ONLY inside the associated player.
Nevertheless, you can see and use the recording feature today by simply using the standard Yugma client (launch Yugma from www.yugma.com and click Start). Additional information on how to use the recording facility is available online.
- Customizable Yugma widget buttons
These will allow anyone to place a graphic widget on their web page or blog making it extremely easy for anyone to start or join a screen-sharing session.
- Text Chat
As you can see from the opening screenshot in this article the upcoming Yugma interface in version 3, will also integrate a full text chat facility.
- Just-in-time free screen sharing
Start immediately a screen-sharing session with any of your Skype contacts no matter on which computer OS they prefer to work on
- Easy-to-use and simple commands
Simple to use interface with easy and straightforward commands.
- Change Presenter feature
All Yugma registered users have access to this useful feature allowing the host to pass the presenter baton to anyone of the attendees. When the presenter role is transferred the newly assigned presenter can show her screen to everyone else.
- Integrated live annotation tools and whiteboard
Yugma sports a full live annotation and whiteboarding toolset that is immediately available for use. Free hand drawing, highlighter, text and ready-made shapes are all available along side color and line thickness settings. Better yet screenshots can be easily saved and loaded back into the whiteboard.
- Access to all Premium features to all new users for the first 15-days of use
This is a great incentive to all new users as they can sign-up and enjoy fully all of the advanced Yugma features including file sharing, scheduling, file sharing and very soon recording too.
- Recorded session sharing widget
In addition to the above, one of the possible key competitive advantages that Yugma should have provided to sync itself up with the web 2.0 spirit is yet to show up under their official plans: a Yugma widget allowing the easy sharing and republication of Yugma recorded session inside other web pages.
Performance is not on par with the best performers in this class. The screen updating is not really in real-time and if you have been using GoToMeeting you shouldn't expect similar outstanding results. Yugma is a bit slow and screen refreshes sometimes just take a bit too long than expected. I also do not see the remote presenter cursor moving in real-time as I expect. It may be that my being Europe-based is affecting this, but the reference comparison tools I am using, though American-based, do not seem to suffer from the same problem.
Yes this is a very recent new tool and there are still some rough corners here and there. Not always everything runs as it should and sometimes error messages or sudden crashes may spoil your experience. From what I see, none of these is particularly worrying and given the amount of upgrading they are working into this tool, it seems to me quite natural to find some of these issues still popping around.
While there is no doubt about the fact that Yugma is among the easiest screens-sharing tools out there, there is evidently still quite a bit of work to be done both in terms of interface design as well as in terms of usability testing to make everything work as smoothly as desired. The main interface is now very straightforward and easy to understand but starting from the specific function dialog-boxes (invite, file-sharing, scheduling, etc.) there is way too much discrepancy of design and communication standards.
- Annotation Tools
Like I have pointed out before for Yugma and other competing tools, the standard live annotation approach and toolset used by most web conferencing and real-time collaboration tools providers is obsolete, highly limiting and very frustrating for presenters to make good use of. Unless one has a graphic tablet free hand drawing tools are next to useless and having multiple micro-tools that miss to provide key essential mark-up abilities are much less useful than much simpler tools that sport better thought out design and application usage. The text tool is particularly primitive in this first Yugma Skype implementation, while the other annotation tools reflect the low level of appreciation that companies designing these tools have for the actual application that user would want to make of them.
- Lack of integration into Skype interface
Unlike GoToMeeting, which integrates itself in Skype by adding an extra graphic tab to the Skype window, Yugma keeps for now a life of its own as until today you cannot directly access it from inside the Skype interface. The advantage of a fuller integration would better serve the just-in-time, contextual collaboration metaphor that Yugma seems to have now fully embraced with this new product.
- Host controls visible to users
Depending on which operating system you are, you may see the host/presenter controls showing up as part of the screen sharing session you are attending. That should not be the case, but at least when Mac attendees are involved, this is for now a limitation that Yugma engineers are working hard to resolve for the next release.
- Mouse and keyboard sharing
Only one user at a time can control a remote mouse and keyboard. Competitor GoToMeeting provides also the option of having all attendees take simultaneous control of the presenting screen keyboard and mouse.
- Existing users not prized?
Last but not least I found quite surprising that for all the marketing savvy Yugma has placed into the launch of this new product, it has chosen NOT to offer a taste of the new Premium features available through Yugma Skype. Surprising but true, Yugma has in fact chosen to provide full access to the Premium features only to existing Yugma users, missing to understand that those that should have been prized the first in seeing and using these would have been really their existing users, even if under a free plan. A missed marketing opportunity.
Yugma is not the first tool to provide integrated screen sharing inside Skype nor the ability to directly invite Skype users, but by adding support for up to ten people, annotation tools, presenter change and a lot more in the Premium version, it sets itself as the best candidate for extending Skype online collaboration potential for screen sharing, demonstrations, presentations and remote support.
If Yugma had now the performance that GoToMeeting provides I would have no hesitation in switching. But given the lackluster performance I experienced so far and the frustrating annotation toolset packaged with it, I can only recommend the new release from Yugma to all new users who haven't yet had the opportunity to use more advanced and expensive competing tools.
Competition aside Yugma makes available a hard-to-refuse offering, that while working across operating systems allows users to share their screens easily, do live annotation, change and switch presenters, while being in direct touch with all of their Skype contacts.
That is no small feat by itself.
Given then the notable extra features available to Premium users at relatively very low prices, including file sharing, scheduling, remote control and session recording, I strongly recommend Yugma to all those that have yet to develop some experience with live presentations, training or simple team collaborative sessions where they need to easily and rapidly share their screen.
Yugma does not get my crown for the best in this category, but it is certainly one of the very few tools to offer so much while asking absolutely nothing in return. In the free version in fact, a new advertising area at the bottom of the client interface will allow Yugma to recoup some money on this front by running their own ads.
If you want to screen-share now with your Skype contacts at zero cost and while being able to easily switch presenters this is the tool I would recommend to go and try out today.
Test it out and let me know what you think.
Yugma System Requirements
Windows XP or Later
Mac OSX 10.3 or later
Java 1.5 or later
Linux editions supported:
- Red Hat Enterprise 4.0
- Open Suse
Download Yugma Skype plugins
Yugma Skype Edition is available for download in the Skype Extras section at extras.skype.com, or directly from the Yugma website, at www.yugma.com.
Mac version: https://extras.skype.com/1003/view
PC version: https://extras.skype.com/995/view
Pricing, Plans and Premium version-specific features
The Premium Yugma Skype version allows you to break out of the 10-attendees limit and have as many as 500 viewers while adding remote control, recording and playback and file sharing to the basic tool set. The different Premium plans allow you to invite up to 10, 30, 100 or 500 attendees.
Here the exact plans and prices:
Here the key features available for each one:
Original article written by Robin Good for Master New Media and entitled: "Online Collaboration: Just-In-Time Screen-Sharing With All Your Skype Contacts - Yugma For Skype"