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Amazon Chimes In on Unified Communications

Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) entered the unified communications arena with Amazon Chime, a new service that aims to address common frustrations with online video conferences, chat sessions, voice calls and content sharing.

As a fully managed service from the AWS cloud, one annoyance it addresses is the need to deploy and manage complicated infrastructure and software, the company said, along with obviating the need to worry about security.

It's also reportedly easier to get started in an online video conference, for example.

"Meetings start on time, and they’re easy to join," AWS said. "Meetings call you, and with a single tap or click, you can join or notify participants that you’re running late. A visual roster shows who is in the meeting and who is running late, and allows anyone to mute background noise. Amazon Chime automatically reconnects you if you get dropped. Crystal clear audio and HD video keep you focused on the discussion."

AWS spokesperson Jeff Barr said the new offering works on PC and Mac desktops and on iOS and Android mobile devices, and it can hand users off from one to another amid a communications session.

Along with the ability to call participants about an upcoming meeting and let them respond with a single tap or click, Barr listed other benefits such as:

  • Meeting roster: Instead of endless "who just joined" queries, Amazon Chime provides a visual roster of attendees, late-comers, and those who skipped out entirely. It also provides broadly accessible mute controls in case another participant is typing or their dog is barking.
  • Easy sharing: Collaborating is a core competency for Amazon Chime. Meeting participants can share their screens as desired, with no need to ask for permission. Within Amazon Chime's chat rooms, participants can work together and create a shared history that is stored in encrypted fashion.
  • Clear calls: Amazon Chime delivers high-quality noise-cancelled audio and crisp, clear HD video that works across all user devices and with most conference room video systems.

To use Chime, users just need to download the app.

The service is free to try for 30 days, after which users can continue for free on the basic plan or pay to upgrade.

Details of the three available plans include:

  • Amazon Chime Basic allows you make 1:1 voice and video calls, and to use chat and chat rooms, on all your devices. It doesn't include higher-end features such as screen sharing, remote desktop control, the ability to schedule and host meetings, the ability to record meetings and several more.
  • Amazon Chime Plus adds the ability for you to share your screen during meetings, and enables integration with your company directory. It costs $2.50 per user per month.
  • Amazon Chime Pro offers the full set of features for online meetings, including scheduling and hosting meetings, recording meetings, and personalized meeting URLs, for up to 100 people. It costs $15 per user per month.

Available now for download, it will later also be available through partners Level 3 Communications and Vonage.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for 1105 Media.