Last week while scrolling through Reddit, I learned of a new app called Unmeeting.
If you’re like me and stay updated on trends and tools for remote employees, you know that there are a number of apps out there that are meant to improve communication between non-brick-and-mortar collaborators.
Among the existing options, there are chat and video apps that allow geographically distributed teams to send, receive and archive messages instantly as well as hold live meetings. So when I read that there’s an opportunity to test out this brand new remote work app, the first question that came to my mind was What makes this one different?
I contacted one of the creators of Unmeeting, Joe Taylor to find out more. He was nice enough to break it down for me and explain out how he believes this app will benefit remote workers. As we talked through it, what I learned is that Unmeeting is being built to make interactions more meaningful for remote workers.
Q1 Who are the creators of Unmeeting and why did they decide to create it?
Joe Taylor and Andy Payne are the creators of Unmeeting. They are entrepreneurs and software engineers that have worked together at Assemblage, a data collaboration company that was acquired by Cisco.
Part of their past projects were synchronous video applications for remote teams. While working on these applications, one thing they noticed was that among the team members, there were some people that were interested in being on video and others that were not.
They created Unmeeting with the goal of creating a solution that provided a happy medium to satisfy both types of remote workers and those in between.
Q2 Who is the team that makes up Unmeeting and are you remote, too?
At the moment, Joe and Andy make up the team. They too work remotely, of course, with Joe being based in London and Andy in San Fransisco.
They have built the entire app together thus far and have plans to hire additional team members in the near future.
Q3 So, what does the app do, and what makes it exciting?
The main purpose of the Unmeeting app is to help remote teams by building connectedness, especially since working remotely will be a key component in the future of work.
Unmeeting is all about building ad hoc solutions for teams. Ultimately, it will be designed to use machine learning to figure out who you should talk to, when, and about what.
The app will be right on your desktop with its icon displayed as a waving hand. A video visit that takes place on it is called a drop-in, which hints at the impromptu feeling it intends to conjure up – kind of like the feeling you’d get when taking a moment to pause and chat with your colleagues at the water cooler.
The intention is to promote a more interactive remote working experience. For example, it sees when you haven’t connected with anyone for a few hours and prompts you to reach out. You can also set activities for your team to hold a daily stand up, goal setting or other face-to-face meetings.
Unmeeting allows video communications between team members to be asynchronous or live depending upon who you’re working with, what time zone differences are, or the team’s preferences.
The app will make suggestions to you to improve interaction with your colleagues. Using the example of team members working at different times of day, it may suggest that you watch your team members’ video updates or record your own for them to view at their convenience.
It can also suggest for you to invite colleagues for casual occasions like meeting to enjoy a coffee virtually.
Q4 What makes Unmeeting different from other non-traditional remote work apps out there?
Unlike most other apps out there, there are no links needed to jump on a video chat nor is there a need to create meetings. It’s more fluid and you save on the number of steps to invite someone to collaborate.
Another fun feature is that you can see what people on the team are meeting about which is designed to draw you into the conversation. It’s the equivalent of overhearing an interesting conversation in the office and being able to join. This extends the usefulness conversations taking place on the app to the rest of the team.
Unmeeting is not intended to be a messaging platform or replace remote team management apps. They want to lower the signal-to-noise ratio so unlike messaging, it will only call out items of interest. The view is a card or magazine format. Live conversations are promoted, and you should be able to decide whether they’re relevant to you or not just by glancing at the app.
There will be an AI aspect to it as well. It’s still in development stages but AI will allow the app to become a concierge that gets to know you and your teams by analyzing behavior and speech, then cultivate suggestions for conversation.
One example is topic detection. With the user’s permission, the program will be able to determine what is being spoken about and using this information, it will create and suggest conversation pieces to the users. Privacy and security are a concern for this feature and will need to be integrated into the app. The machine learning is a challenging part of the programming, and it will take some time to develop.
Q5 What platforms can the app be used on presently, and how does one go about downloading it?
Unmeeting is being built as a cross-platform app. Presently, there are apps already available for iPad and Mac desktops. A windows version will be released pretty soon. Second-screen device accessibility is another option that they are also exploring now.
Q6 What’s the expected cost?
They are still looking at product-market fit but expect that there will be a free model and an optional premium model that will cost around $10 per month for each user.
Q7 When do you expect the app to launch, and where can we go for updates on it?
Unmeeting is expected to expand into full beta earlier next year. Testing teams have already been launched, and there is still room for more teams that would like to join in and try it out in this phase. For anyone that’s interested, they can visit the site and click “Get Early Access” in the upper left portion of the screen. For updates, you can follow on Unmeeting on Twitter; the website is more of a place holder at the moment.
To summarize what Unmeeting is all about, the overarching idea is that they believe the way that people work is going to continue to change. They have seen the need to make traditional meetings and remote communication better, and their goal is to build something that will cater to this.