About a month ago we told you that Tungle are looking for volunteers to beta test their upcoming BlackBerry application. Tungle is a beautiful service that makes scheduling meetings very easy. The concept is very simple and is based on allowing you to suggest times for a meeting based on availability, and allow attendees to either accept the meeting invite or propose different times. Today, I’ll take you through the beta application and show you what’s in store for BlackBerry users.
The test meeting I’m going to use is a basic meetup on Skype that I have done a thousand times and often book with the same contacts. I have invited BlackBerryCool writers Nan Palmero and Matt Cameron, to get on a Skype call this week and talk about our plans for WES 2010. Here is how it’s done with Tungle for BlackBerry:
On the opening screen, the first thing I noticed was that my Tungle.me profile picture wasn’t synced with the app. I only added it this morning, but it has been a couple hours and it doesn’t seem to be taking. This isn’t really important for the app, but the space is there and it’s not getting used. To schedule a meeting, you’ll want to select the “Schedule Meeting” feature. Once in, you’re presented with a calendar, 4 options and a next button. From left to right, the options are “Add contact”, “Calendar Filter”, “Tungle Suggest” and meeting length. Personally, I think the icons need some work. The ‘+’ sign is ubiquitous and clear, but the Calendar Filter option looks like the old BlackBerry Radio button and is very misleading. Also, the magic wand isn’t so clear either. At the very least, I think the app should provide a roll-over description of the icon. You can also select these options from the menu, but I personally like an app that is more visual and avoids the need for the menu bar.
Since I communicate with Nan and Matt pretty regularly, I chose to invite users by email address, rather than Address Book (more on why below). Adding the attendees is a simple process, and as far as I can tell, you can add as many as you would like. Booking the meeting time is very easy, but requires you to click on each half hour you are available.The beauty of the Tungle service is being able to “paint” times. I think you should be able to hold the “shift” key and paint large time periods of availability. This is just a small feature that I think would go a long way to making the mobile and desktop experiences similar.
Depending on your availability, you will want to use the Calendar Filter option to select ranges. If you have the working day selected, your calendar will only go to 17:00/ If you would like to book evening meetings, you will have to select “all day”.
Once the meeting is scheduled, you can review before sending it off to the attendees. Everything until now has been very easy and the Tungle app is almost more convenient than the desktop version. After sending the invitation off, you can review your meetings and invitations on the Tungle Management screen.
From the Tungle Management screen, you can see your Pending Meetings, Booked Meetings and Action Items. This screen makes managing your current and upcoming meetings very easy. With pending meetings, you can view the details of the meeting, but it takes you to the Tungle.me website. From there, I confirmed the time that Matt accepted, which moved the meeting to the confirmed section. This is when the meeting is supposed to go into my BlackBerry Calendar, which it did but not with the immediacy that I would have liked. I’m not sure how the sync process works, but my guess is that it goes from the Tungle app, to the Tungle.me service, which then connects it to your Desktop calendar and then to the device. I’m just speculating here but it seems like a long loop in order for the event to get back to your device calendar. If someone schedules many meetings in succession, I’m wondering how this might impact the service. It’s also worth mentioning that I’m running Google Apps, which tends to have a slow sync cycle anyways, and if a user were on a BES with Tungle, the whole process would likely be much faster.
The contacts section is a module I can do without. Personally, I have 6 email accounts on my BlackBerry, and I tried syncing with all of them. This may have been a mistake because there is an incredible amount of duplication in the contacts section. Is a contacts section really necessary for the Tungle app though? I like the fact that I can select a contact from the Address Book and either book a meeting or “send a sharing request” (share you calendar). This feature gets a little troubled when you have multiple contacts that are duplicated, and some don’t have an email field. This means that the email field doesn’t get imported into the sharing request, and defeats the purpose of the feature. To improve on this, I would get rid of the contacts module all together. By building contacts and sharing requests into the Schedule Meeting module, you save space and you may not run into these problems. I think most people, when they’re going to book a meeting, already know who it’s with and can start typing their name, company or some detail of their contact information. Tungle could just bring this data up on the fly, rather than give the option to scroll through a long list to find it. This would also mean that when you schedule a meeting and you’re asked whether to take the contact from the Address Book or Email, you can just start typing without having to select either. In general, contact management should be a background process, rather than need so much user input.
Overall, this app is a relatively successful Beta and I got a lot of value out of the application. Moving forward, this is going to be an app that stays on my device. There are some things I would like to see improved before the full release, which includes some better contact management to address the issue described above, as well as faster sync. The sync process has always been a little troublesome for me with Tungle, as I go between a Mac and PC, Entourage and Outlook, Google Cal and iCal. Regardless, I’ve seen a lot of beta apps and this is off to a great start. Stay tuned for the full release.