Web Conferencing App Mikogo Gets Multi-User Whiteboard, Chat

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The latest beta version of Mikogo, a screen sharing app that Imran wrote about some time ago, has received some updates that make it into a more useful web conferencing tool, including a multi-user whiteboard and chat features. The company has also introduced an HTML viewer, which means participants can now join a Mikogo session using only a browser, with no need to download any additional software.

I downloaded the Mac (s aapl) version of the new beta to try it out, and it works well; the HTML viewer is even usable on my iPhone’s (s aapl) browser. I can imagine the new whiteboard feature, which enables participants to draw directly on the screen, being especially useful in collaborative design sessions, for example. However, despite apparently having redesigned the user interface, I don’t think the company has addressed all Imran’s original concerns about the app’s design and ease of use. Many of the other screen sharing and conferencing apps available — YuuGuu and join.me, for example — are very easy to use. Mikogo’s interface makes use of lots of difficult to decipher icons, and even with plenty of  pop-up help windows, the app is less intuitive than I would like. I’m also not sure why the Mac version has only one download for both initiating and viewing sessions, while Windows (s msft) users have two separate downloads.

For casual, off-the-cuff, screen sharing sessions, I’d recommend the simpler join.me instead, especially as it also allows participants to join sessions only using a web browser. That said, while it might take a bit of getting used to, Mikogo does offer many useful additional features over join.me, such as multi-monitor support, multi-user whiteboarding and  allowing participants to remotely control the host’s mouse pointer and keyboard, which may make it a better option in certain situations, such as remote support or collaborating on design work (although I should note that it looks like participants using the HTML viewer cannot contribute to whiteboarding sessions or remotely control the host’s computer; they’ll need to download the app to do so).

Mikogo is free; you don’t even have to register to use it, although some features, like the Scheduler, require you to set up an account. You can download the beta of Mikogo 4.0 here.

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