The changing face of TokBox

Today is a big day for TokBox.  We released a new version of TokBox that is the culmination of several months of hard work by our product and engineering teams.  This updated version of TokBox comes in response to all the feedback we’ve received over the last 3 or 4 months, about how we could improve things and truly become the simplest group video conferencing service on the web.

I wanted to take the time to explain not just what we’ve changed, but also why we did it and to invite your feedback.

The changes we made fall in to a few key categories.

  • Signing up to TokBox – We have re-organized our product line up so that you can make a straightforward choice about which product is right for your group video-conferencing needs, either Video Chat, Video Meeting or Video Conference.  All of these products are available via an affordable, monthly subscription with additional upgrades available such as increased audience size or dial-in functionality. See more on our Features & Pricing page.
  • Adding contacts to your TokBox account – There are 3 ways to add people to your account – connect to an existing IM or Facebook account, find people you know on TokBox, or invite people you know to join TokBox.  Our new contact list aims to make this quicker and easier. Find out more.
  • Inviting people to a TokBox call – There are also multiple ways to invite people to join a TokBox call – invite someone from your contact list, send out an email, share the call URL or even promote the call via Facebook or Twitter. See more.
  • Scheduling calls in advance – This functionality is now only available or even visible if you are a subscriber to either our Video Meeting or Video Conference product. For more information on subscriptions and pricing click here. (Currently you will need to sign up for a new account (using a new email address) to upgrade to Video Meeting or Video Conference, but we should have that fixed in the next couple of weeks so you can simply upgrade your existing account).
  • Organizing a call with an audience (formerly known as Broadcast Video Chat) – Earlier this year, we launched the ability to “add an audience” of up to 200 people to your video call.  We called it Broadcast Video Chat.  We have now called this product Video Conference. Same functionality, different name and more cost effective price. Find out more.
  • In-call features – The one change here is that the ability to share SlideShare presentations and collaborate on documents is now a premium feature, available with subscription to our Video Meeting product.  Sharing YouTube videos or Picasa/Flickr albums remains free with our Video Chat product.
  • Sending video messages – Video messaging functionality is now the TokBox equivalent of leaving a voice mail.  If you call someone and they do not respond, leave a quick video message.  You won’t be able to send stand-alone video messages anymore. See more.
  • Managing your TokBox account – All of the controls for managing your account have been grouped, under the rather obviously named “Account” in the top right hand corner of the page.  Here you can updated your profile, manage your subscriptions, change your camera, mic and privacy settings and even log out of TokBox.

Some of you may have experienced some of these improvements already as we have been testing them with select groups of users over the past few weeks to try and work out what was and wasn’t working.  If you have, we hope you enjoyed them and if you haven’t yet, we hope you do.

Obviously, I hope that you think that all the changes are improvements, but I can’t promise that we got it all right first time.  So, please send us your thoughts to feedback@tokbox.com or join me and the TokBox team in a TokBox call on Monday July 26th at 6pm PST to tell us directly what we still need to work on. Click here to join.

Micky and the TokBox Team

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Broadcast Video Chat becomes Video Conference

Earlier this year we launched Broadcast Video Chat, giving users the ability to have up to 200 people in a single video call.  Today, we made some changes to make this functionality easier to use and more affordable.

Broadcast Video Chat is now known as Video Conference and is available via a monthly subscription, starting at $39.99/month. This subscription gives you access to all the features that TokBox has to offer, including the following that are specific to Video Conference:

* Add an audience to have up to 200 people participate in your call

* Enable the audience to submit video questions

* Move audience members on and off the screen

When it comes to adding an audience and increasing the size of your call, you can upgrade your Video Conference subscription in 50-person increments. If you only need 50 participants, pay the basic $39.99/month. If you need more then its only an additional $15/month for every 50-person increment you add.

But, don’t worry if there is a one-off occasion where you need more than your Video Conference subscription allows, you can simply increase the maximum number of participants that call, paying $10 for every additional 50 people you add.

As always, please send us an email with any questions or feedback to feedback@tokbox.com

Micky

Inviting people to join your TokBox call

One of the key parts of organizing or hosting any event, is inviting people.  When it comes to inviting people to your Video Chat, Video Meeting or Video Conference we wanted to make it really simple.  So, here are things that we did that we hope will make it easier to invite people to your call, particularly a group of people.

Now, when you start a call by clicking on “Call now”, you will see one of two invite screens.

The first screen (click to enlarge the image below) is what you will see if you have added contacts to your TokBox contact list (which we recommend you do).

Simply click on people in your contact list and they will be added to the call.  If there is someone else you want to invite, but they are not in your contact list, you can simply type in their email address.  Click “Invite contacts” and if they are an IM contact it will call them immediately and if they are only an email contact we will send them an email with the link for your call and any message you have added.

You can still copy the call URL and send it round, or even post it directly to Twitter and Facebook too by clicking on those icons in the invite screen.

If you don’t have any contacts in your TokBox contact list, you will see a different screen (below).  This simply allows you to add email addresses and once you click “Invite Contacts” we will send them an email with your call URL and any message you have added. As simple as that.

As always, let us know if you have any questions by sending an email to feedback@tokbox.com.

Micky and the TokBox Team

A new way to add contacts to your TokBox contact list

One of the questions we most often hear at TokBox is “How do I add contacts to my TokBox contact list?”, so the whole TokBox team really wanted to make that simpler.  We think we’ve made the first steps with the new contact list.

There are three ways to add contacts, all accessible directly via your contact list:

  1. Connect to an existing IM or Facebook account
  2. Add people you know from TokBox
  3. Invite individuals to join TokBox

1. Connecting IM or Facebook accounts

Click on one of the logos in the contact list and the click on “Add” and you will be asked to enter the user name and password for the account you want to add.  Your contacts from that account will be added to your TokBox contact list.

2. Add people you know from TokBox

If you are looking for an existing TokBox user, enter their name or email address in our search box.  Once you have your results, you can add them as a contact.


3. Invite individuals to TokBox

If someone you know is not a TokBox user, then you can click on “Invite” in the contact list.  Enter their email address and they will be invited to join TokBox.  Once they do, they will appear in your contact list.

We hope this helps and as with all the other changes we have made, feel free to send us your thoughts and ideas to feedback@tokbox.com.

Micky

New ways to invite people to join a call

Our quest at TokBox is to be the simplest group video conferencing service on the web. So, over the course of the last few weeks we have been spent a lot of time talking to TokBox users, both new and old, to find out what we could do to make things simpler.  We have already launched some of the things that they suggested and over the course of the next month or so we will be rolling out more.

Today we launched one of the first major changes, which we hope will make it easier to invite people to your call, particularly a group of people. Now, when you start a call by clicking on the “Start a video chat” button, you will see one of two invite screens.

The first screen (click to enlarge the image below) is what you will see if you have added contacts to your TokBox contact list (which we recommend you do).  Simply click on people in your contact list and they will be added to the call.  If there is someone else you want to invite, but they are not in your contact list, you can simply type in their email address.  Click “Invite contacts” and if they are an IM contact it will call them immediately and if they are only an email contact we will send them an email with the link for your call and any message you have added. You can still copy the call URL and send it round, or even post it directly to Twitter and Facebook too by clicking on those icons in the invite screen.

If you don’t have any contacts in your TokBox contact list, you will see a different screen (below).  This simply allows you to add email addresses and once you click “Invite Contacts” we will send them an email with your call URL and any message you have added. As simple as that.

We’re still testing these changes, so not everyone will see them, but if you do see them, we’d love to hear what you think so that we can continue to test and improve.  Send us an email to feedback@tokbox.com or join us this Friday at 11am PST in a Broadcast Video Chat to ask your questions and give us your point of view.  Simply click on this call URL http://www.tokbox.com/Micky/Discuss-changes-to-TokBox

We look forward to chatting with you then.

Micky and the TokBox Team

Adding contacts to your TokBox contact list

One of the questions we often get from existing TokBox-ers is “How do I add contacts to my TokBox contact list?”, so I thought it would be worthwhile sharing the basics here.  In short, there are two ways you can add contacts 1) one at a time 2) entire contact lists.

Starting with adding individuals one at a time, here are the steps.

If you are looking for an existing TokBox user, enter their name or email address in our search box.  Once you have your results, you can add them as a contact.

If they are not a TokBox user, then you can click on “Add account” at the bottom of the contact list and choose “Add contact”.  Enter their email address and they will be invited to join TokBox.  Once they do, they will appear in your contact list.

Next, if you would like to add an entire contact list, you can add lists from Gmail/Gtalk, Yahoo, AIM or MSN Messenger.

Simply click on “Add” at the bottom of your contact list and choose “Add account”.  You will be asked to enter your user name and password for the account you are adding.  Once you do that, all the contacts from that account will appear in your contact list.  You will then be able to see when they are on or offline and be able to easily call them or send them an instant message.


We hope this helps and as always, feel free to send us an email at help@tokbox.com if we can give you any other pointers.

Micky

Top tips for a successful TokBox Broadcast Video Chat

Since we launched Broadcast Video Chat a couple of months ago we’ve had a lot of different people use it. There was of course the US Fish and Wildlife Service, our friends at Real Life Plus, the Critical Care team from a large national hospital and finally, this weekend the folks at Novoe Radio.

In talking to some of these people, we thought it would be interesting to share some tips on how to have a successful Broadcast Video Chat:

1. Make sure everyone has the correct URL for the chat

There are two URLs for every Broadcast Video Chat.  One is for people who are “on-screen” who will be doing most of the talking and presenting, the other is for “off-screen” participants who are going to be mainly watching and listening.

2. Ask people to check their camera and microphone in advance

This will save set-up time at the beginning of the chat.  They can simply go to tokbox.com, sign up for a free account, start a chat.  If they can see themselves and the audio meter is active, then they’re good to go.  Otherwise, they need to click on the “wrench” in the video chat to check the correct camera and microphone are being picked up.

3. Use an external microphone, particularly if you have multiple people in the same room, using the same computer

If you have multiple people in the same room, using the same computer, you should use an external microphone to help prevent issues with echo.  There are lots to choose from, but an inexpensive option is this Logitech noise-cancelling microphone

4. Set your privacy settings for Instant Messages to “allow from anyone”

This will enable you to follow all the text chat that takes place within the Broadcast Video Chat. Simply go to My Account and select Privacy.  Set the Instant Message option to “Allow from anyone”

5. Set up your media in advance

If you have presentations, videos or photos to share, set them up in advance to prevent any last minute panics.  Simply click on the “TV icon” at the top of the page for your Broadcast Video Chat.  Add the URLs for your videos, presentations etc. and click “Queue”.  When you come back to start the chat, they will be there ready for you to share.

6. “Plant” some questions before the chat starts

As with any conference, there’s always a little shyness on the part of the audience.  Ask a few people to think up questions and submit a video question in advance by clicking on the chat URL in advance and then clicking “Record a question”.  As the moderator you can then share this in the chat and inspire others to ask a question.

7.  Appoint an “off-screen” moderator

If you’re expecting a large crowd and for there to be a lot of discussion, you should try and appoint a moderator to field video questions, manage the sharing of presentations and generally make sure things run smoothly.  This moderator can produce the chat from off-screen so they can be multi-tasking and not appear distracted on-screen or take up valuable space 🙂

8. Have a ‘dress rehearsal’ with the “moderator” and “speakers”

Try and get everyone together in advance of the meeting and make sure they have familiarized themselves with all of the features and functionality, particularly if you are going to ask them to moderate the chat at any point.

If you’ve tried a Broadcast and have some more tips and tricks to share, please let us know or simply comment here on the blog post.

Micky
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