There are a lot of ways to collaborate online these days, but few offer a way to collaborate while talking to and/or seeing who your collaborating with. LiveMinutes does this and so much more.
LiveMinutes’ motto is “we make meetings memorable” and their features do just that. First you’re able to hear and see who you’re collaborating with, like you would if you were sitting with them at a table. Next you’re able to take notes and edit them along the way. Other things you can do are sharing documents and uploading files, sketching and viewing a report of what the meeting consisted of. This all happens in real-time, meaning you see what your collaborators do and they see what you do. And all this is free!
When you sign up, LiveMinutes walks you through their very thorough tutorial, so instead I will just touch upon the primary features.
A Beautiful, Intuitive User Interface
I can’t say enough good things about the interface. It is truly impressive — clean, easy to use, simple, feature-packed, dare I say perfect? And that’s just the homepage! Ok, so I was actually referring to the application itself, but the other parts of the website keep the same intuitive interface throughout.
Invite Anyone, Even If They Don’t Have An Account
No one likes proprietary software that forces you to create an account before trying it out. In fact, you can do this before you even create an account. But let’s say that you have some friends in school or coworkers at work who don’t have the service and have never heard of it. Asking them to sign up would be a huge turnoff, but sending them a link through email or social network platform is a piece of cake for both you and your fellow collaborators.
Then, if they enjoyed the experience they can create an account and access all the information that was just covered in the meeting.
Hear And See Your Collaborators While Working
LiveMinutes thought out everything when it came to this feature. The ability to interact with people through voice calls and video has been around for a while, but until LiveMinutes, it has never been integrated so well into a collaboration tool like this. Google Docs does well with the sidebar chat, which is also possible in LiveMinutes (of course), but there always seemed to be a disconnect. Certainly with Google+ Hangouts, LiveMinutes does have a slight competitor, but I would say they still blow Google out of the water with this one.
Why? Compatibility and versatility. LiveMinutes allows you to connect via Skype, your browser or even by phone. It goes beyond that though. In the US, you can call in with your phone or even have LiveMinutes call you. However, if you don’t live in the US, Skype is a great alternative and it doesn’t cost anything either. They actually provide you with a special link and code.
How could it get any better?! Well, actually LiveMinutes isn’t stopping there. Soon they will be releasing the feature to record the call and save it to the report. I don’t know about you, but if this is LiveMinutes “just getting started,” I can’t wait to see how they change the collaborating experience in months and years to come.
Create And Edit Notes
An online collaboration tool wouldn’t be complete without this function and frankly, it’s a necessity. Even the very basic tools have this feature to some degree. But the fact that this is combined with so many of the other features in LiveMinutes makes it even more valuable.
Whenever a note is open, you can see where everyone else’s mouse cursor is at and see changes as they are made, just like you were looking at their screen, but LiveMinutes is not a screen sharing application at all.
It’s important to note that soon there will be the ability for you to format your notes.
Share Documents From Anywhere
Once again, LiveMinutes has implemented this feature the right way from the start. This time I’m referring to how documents are loaded into LiveMinutes and then shared with fellow collaborators. You can upload a document from your computer, but also from the Library within LiveMinutes, which you can continuously build. This makes it easy to share the same document over and over in different meetings without the need to navigate through your files on your computer (although there are ways you can improve that experience as well).
Along with uploading files from your computer and accessing them from the Library, you can also connect LiveMinutes with Evernote and Dropbox. I swear, LiveMinutes just keeps getting better.
Illustrate Ideas Collaboratively
There are times when words don’t work and you just need to show your ideas with visualizations. The Sketch feature in LiveMinutes can help you do that. The tools would be what you’d expect — free draw paint brush, shapes (squares, circles, lines and arrows), color variations (although I was quite impressed with some of the capabilities here), eraser, and photo upload from your computer, Library and Google Images.
Review Entire Meeting In A Report
Before LiveMinutes, I had never heard of a feature like this. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there’s any other service that does an end-of-meeting report like this either. And even if there is, I’d be hard-pressed to find one as intuitively “smart” as this one.
LiveMinutes includes everything in the meeting, except the actual call (currently), but that will come too! No more forgetting what you talked about because it’s all right there!
As a bonus, your report isn’t stuck in LiveMinutes, but you can download it as a PDF and easily share it with others as well. And of course, like invites, they don’t have to be registered LiveMinutes users.
Excellent Evernote Integration
LiveMinutes doesn’t just allow you to import notes from Evernote, but it also syncs your reports to Evernote. Can it get any better than that?!
There’s even a special tutorial to help you make the most out of the LiveMinutes and Evernote integration.
For more information on LiveMinutes, check out their FAQ page for a full rundown of all the questions you could possibly have.
In my opinion, LiveMinutes trumps all other services. Google comes in at second place with Google Docs integration with Google+ Hangouts, but it’s a very distant second place. And actually (I doubt this would happen), it’d be pretty neat if LiveMinutes partnered up with Google to import Google Docs, but that isn’t too big of an issue. Enough about Google though, let’s focus back on LiveMinutes.
What do you think about it? Will you consider it for your next online collaboration project? Might you even choose it over in-person meetings and collaboration?