Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sunrise Launches Meet, A Sleek Feature To Schedule Meetings From Your Phone

Chances are you often switch between your calendar and email apps on your phone in order to tell someone when you are available. Scheduling meetings has been a pain point for years, and popular calendar app Sunrise is tackling this issue with a new feature called Meet. This is the first major release following Sunrise’s acquisition by Microsoft.
Co-founder and CEO Pierre Valade first told me about Meet more than a year ago. It’s been through many iterations before the team finally settled for an interesting design choice. Meet is a third-party keyboard for both Android and iOS that lets you pick time slots and send them to someone without ever leaving your current app.
I’ve been following a few of Meet’s iterations, and it’s been an interesting product case study. At first, the company thought Sunrise needed chatting features to make an efficient scheduling tool. How can you pick a place and time that works for two people without talking? But people won’t switch from Gmail, WhatsApp or iMessage, so the team had to abandon this idea.
For a while, Meet was a brand new app as well. When you launched the app, you were presented with a full screen calendar. In just a few taps, you could pick a few time slots, a contact name and send a meeting request. At the time, Valade told me that users shouldn’t have to use a keyboard to schedule a meeting.
But iOS 8 introduced a feature that could prove particularly useful for Sunrise Meet — third party keyboards. The final version of meet is a calendar bundled in your keyboard. And it works incredibly well.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you are reading an email and someone wants to meet you. You hit reply, type your response and then switch to the Sunrise keyboard. You pick time slots that work for you in your calendar, and hit done. Sunrise will generate a link and add it to your email. And it works exactly the same way in your favorite messaging app or in any other app.
When your recipient taps on this link, there are two different scenarios. If you are using Sunrise, this link opens Sunrise and shows you meeting suggestions inside your calendar. You can confirm or suggest another time.
If you don’t use Sunrise, the company doesn’t force you to install any app. You can just confirm the meeting from your web browser, and you then receive a calendar invite in your email inbox. While everything happens in your browser, the experience is much better than using Doodle.
Finally, meeting suggestions update in real time, meaning that every time you book a meeting on a previously available slot, this slot will disappear from your availabilities. It’s transparent for the recipient.
Overall, the user experience is very polished and easy to use. It integrates very well with your calendar, and I can’t wait to use it for all my meetings. It isn’t a tool to boost the company’s growth as the company clearly doesn’t worry as much about it now that Microsoft acquired the New York-based startup for $100 million, according to TechCrunch’s sources.
While the experience doesn’t work as well on the desktop, Meet is also available in Sunrise’s web app and desktop app. Today’s news also means that Microsoft is committed to Sunrise, and existing users can still expect regular updates for their calendar app.
 

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