I heard news the other day that Amazon is now offering its communications service called Chime. I thought I’d give the free version a try just to see what might be different and/or better than existing services such as Skype. Here’s my personal reactions from first contact (this is not a formal evaluation!).
This is what Amazon is saying (and seems to be delivering):
“Amazon Chime is a modern, fully-managed communications service from AWS that makes it easy for you to communicate with people inside and outside your organization using voice, video, and chat. With Amazon Chime, online meetings are easier and more efficient, crystal clear audio and high definition video keep you focused on the discussion, and the service is designed to work seamlessly across desktops and mobile devices.”
To me, Amazon Chime is a good example of cloud computing – it’s a SaaS pay-as-you-go service that involves very little technical involvement from the user. There is no upfront commitment, prices are per user per month, activation is self-service, and you can change or cancel the service at any time.
The basic (free) version is restricted to person-to-person voice and video calls, and chat and chat rooms. The Pro version includes numerous other features such as:
- Scheduling, hosting and recording of meetings
- Meeting calls the participants
- Joining meetings via a normal telephone (at an extra charge)
- Personal meeting URLs
- Videoconferencing for up to 16 on a desktop and 8 on a mobile phone
- 1G/user of message history
- Screen sharing
- Attaching of documents to a meeting, chat or chat room
- Smart presence functions
I was not able to see a way to do a voice call via a telephone, although it could be accomplished by setting up a meeting. For example, I use Skype to call 1-800 numbers frequently.
I found it very easy to install the Chime apps on my desktop PC and my iPhone. During our test meeting I found myself using both at the same time – the phone for video and voice and the PC for messaging. It does not like the same person talking through two devices in the same room, however.
The voice and video quality seemed excellent throughout our informal test. I had no problems at all. Presumably there aren’t many simultaneous users yet but the magic of cloud computing scalability should mean that capacity will not be an issue.
Personally, I liked the user interface and found it easy to find and to use the functions. The iPhone and PC versions were quite similar so that two separate learning curves weren’t required.
As with most platforms, the more people who sign up the more useful the service will be. It is not my intention to force my contact list to sign up!
All in all, I enjoyed my first exposure to Chime and am not about to delete the apps.
This is what I think. Your mileage may differ!