Arranging meetings with co-workers and team mates can often be a very tedious task. The main issue with meeting scheduling the is time wasted trying to arrange meeting times. Microsoft Exchange tools help solve this inside the enterprise, but outside your own company efficiently scheduling meetings becomes difficult if not impossible. Another issue with scheduling meetings is having to work with timezones.
In conclusion, time is wasted arranging meetings because they involve multiple email transactions and/or phone calls.
A newcomer to the meeting coordinating scene, Tungle is an add-on application that tries to take some of the frustration out of arranging meetings.
The Tungle Client
Tungle is a downloadable application that looks very much like an IM program. The application reads your calendar and shares your availability with your Tungle peers. One benefit of Tungle is that it doesn’t change or alter your Exchange calendar, just reads it for the purpose of allowing you to share your free/busy data. Tungle also allows you to see your contact’s free/busy data within Outlook, sans having to fire up the Tungle client.
At this point in time, Tungle only supports Microsoft Outlook (with or without an exchange server) on Windows Vista and XP.
If you want to schedule a meeting with someone who you know doesn’t have Outlook or Exchange, you can create a Tungle Space. A Tungle Space is simply a temporary web site to arrange a particular meeting. In the Spaces tab, you’ll see a grid representing the coming days. You click a zone that represents times that you’re free. An email is sent to those who you invite and they get a link to your Tungle space where they’re able to see your open times. The invitees select a block of time and the meeting is then booked.
When I asked Tungle CEO Marc Gringas about future plans to support other calendaring platforms such as Apple’s iCal and Google Calendar, he replied by stating these are the next two platforms are the next to be launched, with the same functionality as the Windows client.
When asked about how they are going to monetize Tungle, Gringas said the basic client will always remain free. However they will eventually introduced premium services that will be billed monthly or yearly. Premium features will likely include detailed calendar information (rather than just free/busy data) and the ability to schedule meeting resources such as projectors, food, microphones, etc.
Tungle is an easy to use application that takes some of the trouble of scheduling meetings. However, until other calendaring applications are supported, I cannot see recommending this product for your scheduling needs. Those on Outlook 2007 already have the ability to share their free/busy data with those not on their Exchange system via the Internet Free/Busy functionality. There’s no reason to install and configure a third-party application when Outlook 2007 supports this out of the box.
Tungle’s true value will be realized when it serves as a cross-platform calendar scheduling system; bridging the gap between not only Outlook users across enterprises, but across operating systems and other calendaring platforms.
Tungle advertises that no data is kept on any central servers. Gringas, in our interview, told me Tungle works in a P2P fashion, similar to Skype. When I addressed the issue of privacy, I asked him if scheduling data is sent over the wire in clear-text. He responded by saying the beta build I was using did use clear-text but upon release, they’ll be employing encryption (off the top of his head, he thought it was Blowfish). I feel a bit uneasy about any type of clear-text communication of my data, so it I hope this encryption promise manifests.