Earlier this week we checked out Buddy Shopping, a collaborative Web browsing tool for shoppers. And today we got word of Yugma, a more general-purpose screen-sharing product. Best of all, it's free and cross-platform. Yugma runs in Java and acts almost like an app outside of the browser.
In Yugma, drivers and passengers can trade place at will--you can swap which desktop is in view. There also are some basic drawing tools, so you can doodle on the screen. (But for serious design review work, you might want a specialized tool like ConceptShare)
Like other screen-sharing and presentation products, Yugma sets up a meeting room of sorts, with a chat box. The messaging isn't quite instant, as there's a second or so delay. Considering how much information is being exchanged, this is acceptable, but the delay could increase with additional users.
Yugma has four different tiers of service, with the free version still being pretty generous at 10 attendees. The paid versions add access for more users at once and business-centric options like networked storage, scheduling, and keyboard and mouse sharing for attendees. Yugma may work as a voice conference tool in the future, although in the current version this function is disabled. The developers apparently are "revamping" voice conferencing, but Skype and Google Talk (or the phone) can still be used in the background.
The one thing we like about this service is the Widget creation tool. You can create about a dozen various buttons to insert into e-mails, Web pages or e-mail signatures. Clicking it will take you to the user-specific conference joining page. This is much easier than sending people to a URL or having to give them log-in instructions.
There are many similar Web conferencing options out there (see Vyew and Unyte), but Yugma offers several levels of service for business users, and Widgets to simplify the joining process. The user interface and the desktop "swap" tool both are implemented very well. You know it's a good app when you don't need to think about how to use it, and Yugma does just that.