The Internet has continued to make it easier for us to keep in touch with friends, hold virtual meetings, and even telecommute to work. It’s almost as if, for the tech savvy, at least, distance is no object when it comes to accomplishing tasks and getting work done. There are a multitude of tools to assist with the aforementioned tasks: Skype gives you the power to have audio and/or video conversations with people some distance away. iChat even supports screen sharing for when you need to get your point across that way.
But what if you want to share your screen, but your target partner doesn’t use iChat, or whatever other solution you use? What if your partner isn’t even on the same platform as you? Today, I’m going to take a look at Screenleap, a web app designed to let you share your screen with essentially anyone, in no more than one single step. How does it work? Hit the jump to read on.
No Really, It’s Effortless
“Effortless” is often used as a buzzword. It was almost a staple in Steve Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field arsenal, along with “magical”, “beautiful”, et cetera. But when I tell you that Screenleap is effortless, I’m not exaggerating–it may well be one of the most simplistic ways to connect with someone I’ve ever used in my time here at AppStorm.
When you visit Screenleap.com, you’ll be presented with a well designed website and a few bullet points about how the service works, but you’ll notice that there are really only 2 things you can do from here: share your screen, or join someone else’s screen-share. For simplicity’s sake, let’s share our own screen.
After giving permission to a java applet to run, and perhaps a few seconds at a loading page, you are effectively sharing your screen. That’s it! The java window control panel for Screenleap is small and unobtrusive, and most important can be taken with wherever you go (digitally speaking). This means that if you’re on a Mac running OS X Lion, you can drag it with you from space to space, making sure that your viewers see exactly what you want them to see at all times.
Now, you have two options for getting people to start watching. You can either share that URL (in an email, or perhaps, a tweet), and anyone who clicks the link will be viewing your screen in their web browser.
The other option is to instruct your viewers to visit Screenleap.com and input that 9 digit code into the bar at the top of the page. This might be most useful on certain platforms, we’ll talk about that shortly. The important thing to notice is that, throughout this whole process, no one involved was asked to install or sign up for one single thing. I think that this is the future of web apps: single-purpose web apps that make getting things done a breeze. (Similarly: A Web Whiteboard)
Swiss Army Knife Screen Sharing
There are few subtle features as both a sharer and a sharee (I don’t think that’s a word, but I’m sure you know what I mean) that you should be aware of. Let’s suppose you’re the one sharing your screen.
The java applet control panel has a drop down menu on it, within which you will find a couple of options for changing the way your screen is sharing. By default, the entire screen is shared, but you can change it to share within a rectangular box. Once selected, a bright green box will appear on your desktop. Change what is visible to your viewers by dragging the top bar to move it and dragging the bottom corners to resize it.
Now that my content is shared, let’s look at Screenleap from the other side. Suppose your colleague is sharing his screen for a brief tutorial, and wants you to join the session. However, you missed the memo and are currently out treating yourself a nice lunch on the company credit card, and you have nothing with you but your iPad. That’s no problem–launch the web browser and navigate to Screenleap.com.
Enter the numbers that your colleague provided for the screen sharing session, just as you would on a computer. Once again, after a brief loading screen, you’ll be able to view a screen sharing session with ease, right from your mobile browser.
Unfortunately, Screenleap provides no way to share the screen of a mobile device like an iPad or iPhone–you can only spectate on screen sharing sessions for now. Still though, the functionality is quite impressive, and the simplicity of it all is even better.
I found Screenleap to be the perfect solution for sharing my screen on a whim, because instead of taking the time to make sure all of my friends and colleagues had the right software installed, settings set, or other various minutia, I could simply share a URL and get on with the presentation.
With nothing to sign up for or install, and with a price point of precisely zero dollars, you have no excuse not to give it a shot. Let us know what you think of Screenleap, and how it stacks up against your preferred screen sharing method.