Mobile Meetings on the Go With the iPad

One function that may define whether tablets survive as business tools is the ability to engage in online meetings

Computing these days is all about mobility and the rise of the tablet as a primary mobile computing platform. Surfing the Web, and getting e-mail covers much of what mobile business users need in a computing device, but to be a true mobile business tool, the tablet has to be able to keep users connected and collaborating.

On a recent flight, I couldn't help but notice the number of iPads in use. Granted, from what I could see as I walked the aisle of the jet, most users were engaged in a game of some sort, or reading an electronic book, or perhaps watching a movie or podcast--but the flight was not equipped with Wi-Fi so the productivity options were limited.

The point is that there were far more iPads in use than laptops on this particular flight. Fast forward a few months and perhaps it would be tablets in general--but for now the iPad is really the only available platform, so we'll have to let it represent the broader tablet market.

Arguments will continue over whether the iPad is a worthy mobile business device, or simply a consumer toy, and the debate will rage on regarding whether tablets are capable of usurping the position currently held by laptops. Despite that, business software vendors and app developers are diligently working to ensure that the tools mobile business users need are available--particularly when it comes to virtual meetings.

Cisco WebEx for iPad is one of the apps that first recognized the business value of the iPad, and demonstrates just what the Apple tablet is capable of. The Cisco app lets users attend WebEx meetings using the full iPad screen, and provides voice over IP (VoIP) audio capabilities. WebEx for iPad users can view all content shared in the meeting, see who else is attending, and engage in individual or group chats with other meeting participants.

Adobe, which recently launched Adobe Connect 8, also provides an iPad app to enable mobile meetings from the tablet. The Adobe Connect Mobile app provides similar features as Cisco WebEx for iPad, and also lets meeting attendees rotate, pan, and zoom to create a customized personal view of the meeting content.

Fuze Meeting makes it possible not just to virtually attend a meeting from your iPad, but to actually facilitate and lead the meeting presentation from the iPad. The app lets users schedule meetings, invite attendees, and start and lead the meeting right from the iPad. Content can be shared from the iPad with meeting attendees, including Apple Keynote and MS PowerPoint presentations, documents, and videos. The Fuze Meeting iPad app can also be used a remote control to push slides and presentation content when physically presenting in a conference room.

One thing that separates Fuze meeting from the Cisco and Adobe solutions is cost. Using the Cisco WebEx or Adobe Connect iPad apps assumes that the meeting presenter is using a licensed copy of the core presentation software. Fuze Meeting requires that the presenter have a Fuze Meeting account, but registering for one is free.

With an explosion of Android, BlackBerry, Windows 7, and WebOS tablets all apparently on the horizon, the iPad may soon just be the tip of the tablet iceberg. Virtual meeting apps like these will help solidify the tablet as a business tool and not just an extravagant niche gadget.

This story, "Mobile Meetings on the Go With the iPad" was originally published by PCWorld.

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