Group conversation service VoiceThread (review) has a great new feature called Video Doodling, which as you can guess, lets users draw on top of video clips on the fly. The technology, formally called a Telestrator, is best known for its usage in football games by John Madden, who pointed out things to look for to viewers at home with the aid of an onscreen drawing tool. VoiceThread takes a similar approach, and instead of overlaying drawings on video while it's playing, only lets you draw when paused.
Start-up IP telephony providers Jajah and Jangl are teaming up to take on the competition, the companies said Thursday.
The companies are part of a new generation of voice-over IP providers that have crept up recently hoping to replicate the success story of Skype, which was bought by eBay two years ago for $2.6 billion. The market is already crowded with dozens of these small players. Typically at this stage of the game, start-ups are too busy duking it out against each to forge partnerships, but executives at Jajah and Jangl say it makes sense for them to partner … Read more
One of the more interesting voice-to-text companies out there is SpinVox, which has been kicking around for the last four years. This week they've added a really cool new feature that adds voice-to-text support for some popular "microblogging" networks like Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, as well as status update and wall support for Facebook. Once you've registered your logins with the service, you can call a single telephone number and post to all of them at once, or pick which ones you want your message to go to.
The service is aimed at people who don't … Read more
Updated at 7:25 a.m. PDT Friday.*
Vonage said Thursday it had resolved an ongoing patent dispute with Verizon Communications at a price tag of up to $120 million, ending what has been a mostly gloomy saga for the struggling Internet phone company.
The announcement comes about a month after New Jersey-based Vonage, which has yet to turn a profit, lost the bulk of an appeal regarding three voice over Internet protocol patents held by the nation's second largest telephone company.
The appeals court upheld a jury finding that Vonage had infringed on two patents that are arguably … Read more
Vonage has asked a federal appeals court to revisit its recent decision to uphold most of a patent infringement ruling in a case it lost to Verizon Communications.
The Internet phone company characterized the request for a rehearing as the "next logical step" in the litigation process and in "moving our business forward."
The struggling firm also continues to "explore all legal options available to put the Verizon litigation to rest," Chief Legal Officer Sharon O'Leary said in a statement Wednesday.
Could that mean another out-of-court settlement is on the horizon? Earlier this … Read more
While GrandCentral may have been stealing headlines lately, there's another suffix-sharing phone call management service called RingCentral that can make small businesses look and function like larger ones with some pretty neat telephonic tomfoolery. The service has been around since early 2004, and today is introducing a slew of VoIP plans called DigitalLine that give users the option to use VoIP instead of, or on top of their existing landlines.
So what can you do with RingCentral? Small business owners will love it, since you can set up a ridiculously extensive set of rules to handle incoming calls, or reroute them on the fly with a virtual phone call manager called SoftPhone. The idea is to take a single or multiline setup and spread it out intelligently, while putting all the options online for you to manage and tweak while away from your office.
Like GrandCentral, you can set up calls to be routed to different phones or line extensions, there are also handy business-centric settings to tweak the response people get when they call at off-business hours. For fans of GrandCentral's multiphone ring system, RingCentral has also gone the extra step of letting you add three-digit passwords to an incoming phone call to keep unintended pickups from happening. This feature actually stemmed out of users wanting to keep their children from answering a business phone call when they had forgotten to turn off the home forwarding options off, or couldn't get to their own phone in time.
The new VoIP implementation is fairly straightforward. All incoming calls can be set to be received via VoIP, letting you receive and manage phone calls while away from your landline. You can also get various minute packages to use VoIP to make outgoing calls, including an all-you-can-eat plan of outgoing VoIP for around $25/month. In contrast to consumer VoIP services like Vonage, Skype, or Comcast's DigitalVoice, RingCentral isn't aiming at cheap outgoing long distance providers, as much as the multi-line business crowd who's looking for a way to handle several lines without the hardware or staffing.
For a shot of the call log interface, click the read more link below.
VoIP and telephony service babyTEL is launching a new Facebook application this morning called Telephone that gives you access to a phone and answering machine without leaving Facebook. Instead of going the embedded route, like YackPack, babyTEL instead relies on a small Java runtime that sits in your computer's taskbar, or the dock if you're on Mac OS X. Once you fire it up, there's a simple authentication process to pull up your list of friends on the social networking service, and allow you to call them for free--assuming you have a headset or speakers and a … Read more
After months of battle, Vonage has lost the bulk of its appeal in the Verizon Communications patent infringement case.
In March, a jury in Virginia found that Vonage had infringed on three patents held by Verizon. And it awarded Verizon $58 million in damages along with future damages of 5.5 percent on the revenue that Vonage was making during the appeal process.
The judge in the case imposed an injunction on Vonage that would force the company to stop delivering a service using technology that infringes on Verizon's patents. But because Vonage has been appealing the case, the … Read more
Whiteboarding tools associated with virtual conference solutions frequently don't offer an easy way to record what's being written down, or distribute it elsewhere after the fact. And for presenting, we're often limited to PowerPoints, video, or audio recordings--or sometimes a hodgepodge of all three at once. Enter Sketchcast, a happy medium between voice and whiteboard recording that the service coins as "Sketchcasts." Users can create their own audio-enriched doodle sessions for all to see, and embed them on blogs or Web sites to distribute their work.
Sketchcast creator Richard Ziade drummed up the idea after finding it cumbersome to spend the time blogging out his ideas, and equated his experiences in meeting rooms, with the potential for blog readership. At least that's the concept, anyway. If Sketchcasting has anything in common with Podcasting (which it does), both require your audience to absorb content in a linear fashion, which is far slower than giving someone several paragraphs of writing that they can peruse at their leisure. There's also the problem of indexing and searching the content, which (for now) is only made possible with tags and user-submitted descriptions.
As a tool, Sketchcast gives users a massive color pallet to choose from, along with an eraser and text tool. All three of the tools can be summoned or dismissed in an instant with keyboard shortcuts, which is a big help to power users. The recording feature is also incredibly simple to use, and can be paused at any time if you need time to draw out your next slide. When finished, the tool gives you the standard smattering of links, including a simple URL, e-mail link, and embed code. Videos are broken down into four categories, including one just for tutorials. The service also is also set up to support user ratings (on a five-star scale), and comments that show up just like they do on YouTube.
I'd definitely recommend giving Sketchcast a spin, if only to play with its editor, which is incredibly simple and fun to use (Ed: It requires registration to use.) As for its worth as a blogging tool, I can only say that preparing a proper Sketchcast takes more of my, and likely more of my reader's, time, which is hardly a suitable replacement for text--as much as it is a complement to whatever is being written. I've embedded an example Sketchcast after the break.