Easier conference calling with Nokia Conference Beta

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Nokia Conference Beta is a new app release from Nokia Beta Labs that aims to make it easier to start a conference call on a Nokia Lumia device. By scanning your calendar the app generates a list of upcoming conference calls. The contents of each calendar entry is parsed for conference details (e.g. service name, call-in number, ID / PIN numbers), which is used to generate a one-tap call button that will connect you to the applicable conference call.

Anyone who regularly makes conference calls will be familiar with the inconvenience associated with having to remember conference details, enter PIN numbers, or manually check the Calendar app for forgotten details or notes. Nokia Conference Beta makes what is usually a multi step process into something that should just take two taps (start app, start call), making it a must have app for business users.

When the app is started a list of upcoming calendar entries is displayed, with conference call details, where found, highlighted in colour. Tapping on an entry will show a page with the full details of that calendar entry (useful for viewing notes, agenda, and other information), and tapping on the call button will start the process of connecting to a conference call.

In most cases the call will be made using a standard phone call, with the appropriate pauses for entering conference ID and PIN numbers generated automatically. However, if the conference call is being made through Microsoft's Lync service, the app will automatically start the Lync app and initiate a conference call.

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One of the issues with automating conference calls is that there are many difference conference calling services and there are often subtle variations in the way they work. Fortunately Nokia Conference Beta is clever enough to work around this issue. Not only can it recognise multiple difference services in its default configuration (by parsing the name of the service / senders domain from the calendar entry), it also enables you to add your own conference calling services.

For each service you can specify a name, organizer domain, dial-in number, the format of the ID code (with pauses if needed), the PIN format, and the ending format. In some cases you may need to do a little testing to get things working, but the app should be able to support most conference calling services. There's an option to share the service configuration details with Nokia, so that it can be included in future releases of the app, which means more services should be automatically recognised with each release of the app.

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Do note that the accuracy of Nokia Conference Beta does depend on having the correct details in calendar entries. In most cases this should not be an issue as conference details generally arrive in the form of a meeting request, which should contain all the necessary information. However, if you manually enter the details of a conference call, all the relevant details must be present if Nokia Conference Beta is to successfully connect you to the call.

On Windows Phone 8 devices there is support for a "conference join" voice command. Speaking this phrase, after holding down the Windows key for a few seconds, will prompt the app to identify the nearest (in time) conference call, read back the name of the conference for confirmation, and connect you to the call. The idea of the voice commands is to make conference calling simple even in a hands-free situation (e.g. when driving in a car), or if you are wearing a Bluetooth headset (e.g. walking along, sitting at a desk).

Windows Phone Store description:

Nokia Conference makes it very easy to dial into conference calls. No more switching to the calendar app, remembering the ID/PIN codes, getting the right access number, switching to the phone app, making the call, and entering all the codes. Instead just hit one button or even join via voice command. It's very handy for anyone that makes frequent conference calls, as so many of us do.

Nokia Conference Beta can be downloaded from the Windows Phone Store for free.

Source / Credit: Nokia Beta Labs