Seems like everyone's using Zoom for online meetings, these days. But let's be honest, Zoom is clunky at the best of times. And let's not even start with all the privacy and security issues they keep having.
Let's see if we can find a better alternative, shall we? Today I'm reviewing join.me — a primarily Chrome-based online meeting software.
The join.me homepage makes this rather eye-catching claim:
Have you ever joined an online call and spent the first five minutes asking each other: "Can you hear me now??" Or maybe spent a few minutes connecting and reconnecting your headphones because the mic wasn't picking up?
It's like Murphy's law intently watching you to make sure that the EXACT moment you need everything to go right... it doesn't.
That's been my experience with popular online meeting tools like Google Hangouts, Skype and Zoom. We have been using Skype for our international team meetings and well... I figured it was time that I ventured into the unknown to see if there is a better solution out there.
So let's dive into this review of join.me by Hamachi (the guys that brought us LogMeIn) and see what the fuss is about. Is it really that easy to use? Can you really just join.me to do whatever you want? Can you really get #*%! done?
Let's find out.
Intuitive, No-Fluff UI That Gets To The Point
When you log in to your join.me account, this is the screen you see:
Let's face it, you jumped on this software so you can do one of two things:
- Start A Meeting OR
- Join a meeting
They know that.
We know that.
And they show us they know that by making their UI super simple. No time wasting extra features or things to click around here. (They might be serious about getting #*%! done.)
Here's a quick rundown of what's going on here:
Under the Start A Meeting header, you are given your own personalized meeting link. And yes, you can change it. I changed mine to 'join.me/achand123' so it's easier to remember and share.
Starting A Meeting
As you may have guessed, to start your meeting simply click on the Start button and your meeting will begin.
Now send your meeting link to your participants and let them in the meeting room as they join.
You will have to let each individual participant in (manually) as they join the meeting. I couldn't find a way to accept participants automatically.
How Does Someone Join My Meeting?
I would say that joining a meeting is even easier than creating one. Simply share your meeting link with anyone and they can join.
As expected, all your participants have to do is enter your meeting link in Chrome to join from their computers or they can enter the link in the join.me app on their smartphones.
Joining meetings with a link is definitely a killer feature in this app. The reason for this is because anyone can join the meeting whether they are from inside or outside your organization.
Your participants don't need to sign up for anything or install anything on their computers to join. Ideal for non tech-savvy people.
One Interesting Point to Note
Once you let your participants in, they will be asked how they want to join the call. There are 2 options: computer or phone. Joining with your computer audio uses your computer's speakers and microphone.
If your participants choose to join by phone, they will get a list of options for dialing in to the meeting.
The Meeting Room
Once you start your meeting and people start joining, you will see notifications like these to let people in to the meeting:
Click Allow to let people in to your meeting room.
1. In-Meeting Chatroom
The chat room is decent. You can message everyone on the call or you can message individual participants. Very useful if you're hosting a conference with multiple stakeholders and want to message a specific participant during the call.
2. Screen Sharing
This is actually one of the killer features in join.me. I know what you're thinking, "what's so cool about screen sharing?" The cool part is that not only can you share your screen if you're on a laptop or desktop, you can also share your screen if you joined from your smartphone. You have options to share your entire smartphone screen or create a whiteboard and share that in the meeting.
In order to do annotate your screen, you need to download the join.me desktop app. When you click on Annotate, you will be prompted to download the join.me app and your meeting will continue from within the desktop app.
The transition of your meeting from Chrome to the native app is seamless, no technical issues and things just continue on your participants' end as if nothing happened at all.
Ease of use is clearly something that was heavily stressed in making this software.
4. Sharing Mouse Control (In Theory)
Here's one I got stuck with... If you can get it to work, I'm sure it is a great feature. Similar to annotations above, Sharing Mouse Control requires the join.me desktop app.
In order to share mouse control I need to allow some permissions on my Mac. No problem, that's reasonable and I'm fine with that.
BUT here is where I started pulling my hair out. You see the screenshot below? The app is stuck on this screen now. It is still sharing my screen and I can still use my mac... but I just can't click on "Open System Preferences" or click anything on the join.me app.
I had to Cmd + Q out of the System Preferences dialog and rage click random things on the join.me app to get it to respond to me again.
TL;DR: just don't share your mouse control in the middle of a meeting. Set this up beforehand to avoid premature balding by excessive hair pulling.
5. Call Recording
Specifically audio recording. When you record your meeting, it only records the audio of your call. It's a bit weird but understandable. Because all call recordings are hosted on the join.me servers, I can see that they are trying to save space on their servers by not recording video.
However, any screen sharing video is recorded. This seems to be the only case where join.me will record video. Bear in mind that this is a Pro feature (more on that later).
6. Viewing Your Recordings
You can find all your call recordings in the Recordings section at the top. You also get the option to download the .mp4 files. All good as you would expect.
7. Scheduling Meetings
This is again straightforward and nothing out of the ordinary. But one thing that I really appreciated is that when you invite people using their emails, you and your participants both receive a calendar invite to your meeting.
You don't have to go out of your way to create a separate calendar event or anything like that. Plus with the O365, Outlook and GSuite integrations, you can schedule meetings right from your Google, Outlook and O365 account.
Again, another instance where they really put some serious thought into making their software easy to use and as useful a tool as possible. They understand that it's not about using their software, it's about how their software can integrate into your workflow.
Note: I tried testing join.me's integration with my GSuite account but couldn't find the join.me app in GSuite Marketplace... maybe the app isn't available in Canada (where I am). So I wasn't able to test it. But I am willing to give join.me the benefit of the doubt here, if they say their integration will work right from your calendar, I would believe them.
What Is This Good For?
Collaborative Work and Online Meetings
Whether you're running meetings with your team, prospects, or clients, join.me is a great tool that allows you to literally hop on a call and get to work in an instant. The software is simple, easy-to-use and "non-tech savvy people" friendly — which is over 90% of the business workforce.
The screen-sharing and annotating features are perfect for collaborative work and integrations with O365, Outlook and GSuite make it easy to add to your company's existing productivity software toolset.
With so much of the world's workforce working from home right now, join.me would be a great solution to host online meetings and conferences that people can dial in to as well.
What Is This NOT Good For?
Join.me - while being an excellent online meeting tool, in my opinion, falls just short of the mark for broad sales and marketing related tasks. It probably can be used for that but it is definitely not designed for it. Here's why.
1. Sales & Marketing Webinars
You could use join.me for webinars but that is not what it is designed for. There is no built-in functionality to support any form of sales or marketing whatsoever. If you are looking for a highly reliable webinar platform designed specifically for sales and marketing, you cannot go wrong with WebinarJam.
2. Video Call Recordings
If video call recordings is something that is paramount to the success of your operations, then join.me is not the tool for you. It simply doesn't have this feature built-in to it and I couldn't find any indication of whether or not they will include this feature in the future.
If you're looking to do conference calls with your team and record the entire meeting (including everyone's webcams and all), then a meeting tool like Skype Meetings, Hangouts or Zoom is the solution you are looking for.
3. Small Scale Team Calls or Calls With Friends
Yes, you can get join.me for doing small scale team calls and hanging out with your friends but I wouldn't recommend it. These sorts of calls are usually casual and used to provide updates. If all you're looking to do is make casual calls, I recommend Skype or Google Hangouts. They're free and get the job done.
Join.me has been an amazing experience to use so far. Especially on their 14-day free trial where you have access to all the pro features.
Now let's dive into how much join.me costs and is it worth it?
At $20/month (paid annually — $240 upfront per user), the Pro tier is decently priced. This is the tier they set you up with in your 14 day trial and the one I recommend you get.
The Lite tier is not worth it. At $10/month (paid annually — $120 upfront) you get a 5 participant limit and no webcam streams. You can get more utility out of Skype or Google Hangouts for free.
The Business tier seems designed for large corporations. If you're a large corporation, you probably already have an in-house solution like O365 + Skype for Business. If not, I would do a price comparison between at least 3 solutions including join.me then pick the one that best suits your company's needs.
Is It Worth Buying?
As you saw above, I think join.me is an excellent piece of software that is ridiculously easy to use.
Their Pro tier is a great deal. It really does take care of all the technical side of things so you can focus on what you need to do — have your meetings and get #*%! done!
I definitely recommend the Pro tier especially for small to medium businesses who are focussed on remote team work and collaboration. If you are looking for a sales and marketing focussed webinar software instead, you can't go wrong with WebinarJam. See our review of that here.
Join.me Review Summary
Is this a better meeting tool for you?
Join.me is a handy online meeting solution for group calls and team meetings. It delivers good audio quality, is easy to use and doesn't take a toll on your computer resources while running.
We found it to be a reliable solution for doing "hey, can you jump on a quick call with me?" type meetings in a remote team.
That concludes our join.me software review. If you think this could help you work with your team, check out their 14-day trial here.