Earlier this month we covered several apps for sending files online and even asked you which were your favorites – and over half of you said you use Dropbox. While that’s great for sending across files, it’s not the best choice for collaboration, especially if you need a place to discuss the files you’re sharing and what you’re doing with them.
Glassboard wants to be that place – a meeting room where you can share files securely and talk about what you’re working on, without having your privacy invaded. The app allows you to invite friends, colleagues and clients to view and share photos and files in a private environment and is simple to use. Is this the collaboration tool you’ve been looking for? Let’s find out.
Glassboard is an app for sharing files, photos and ideas with closed groups of people that’s suitable for personal and professional use. It even comes with companion apps for Android, iPhone and Windows Phone that let you view shared files and receive notifications. Glassboard is currently in beta and free to try out.
Glassboard requires you to register before using it. Once you do, you’ll find that a space to share files (called a Board) that you can add files, photos or comments to. As the creator of the board (the Board chair), you can invite other people (referred to as Board members) via email, who can then add files and comments as well. You can also generate an invitation code, which other Glassboard members can use to join your particular board.
There’s no word on pricing and usage limits just yet; for now you can create up to four boards, and it seems as if you can invite as many people as you like and upload as many files as you want of up to 20MB in size.
Glassboard is designed to be private and simple, and this is reflected in the features and workflow offered in the app. Only the Board chair can invite new members to the board – board members can’t. There aren’t any viewing levels or privileges either – everyone on a board can add files, comment on them and like them. The clean design is also ad-free and is as simple to use as it looks.
That said, the web app’s appearance leaves a lot to be desired – perhaps because it’s still in beta. There’s way too much white space around files and comments and the design looks dated. You can’t hide or delete files or comments, even the ones you’ve added. The Notifications on the toolbar at the top of the screen are helpful though.
To take this app through its paces, I decided to use Glassboard to share some references, checklists and ideas with a local rock band for whom I was going to do a photo shoot, as well as with my assistant. Adding a file is simple, but I’d have liked to have seen support for dragging and dropping, and for uploading multiple files at once. You also have to add a comment to describe your files, which I suppose is actually a good thing.
Comments appear in real-time, and you can choose to receive notifications via email or through any of the mobile apps. Images can be previewed in the app without having to download them, while files are displayed with appropriate file format icons. The Android app looks a lot better than the web app, and I really hope the latter follows the former’s design guidelines as it develops.
Glassboard vs. the competition
Using Glassboard’s web app in its present state is less than exciting – the UI isn’t compelling, there’s not much you can do with files (besides downloading them) and there isn’t anything really new here – several other productivity apps come with this functionality baked in. There are also a bunch of features I’d like to see before I’d commit (and convice others) to using an app like this:
- File previews for audio, video, PDF and Microsoft Office documents
- Drag-and-drop file uploads
- Support for uploading multiple files (which are automatically zipped or sorted into a gallery)
- File and comment administration (both for one’s own account and for board members’ accounts)
- Multiple versions for files
Without these features, it just feels like a stripped-down group messaging service – kind of like WhatsApp on smartphones. Huddle, Box, CX, and Fluxiom provide much better file sharing and commenting with versions and file previews. Even Basecamp allows for pretty much the same functionality as Glassboard – just with several other features too.
Glassboard certainly has the potential to be a useful app, but since it’s competing with such heavy hitters in the productivity and collaboration space, it better do what it says on the tin – and then some. An app like this needs to be dead-simple to use, extremely flexible and affordable at the same time. Those who could do with an app like this are presently using other apps or workarounds – which are actually better.
However, Glassboard is still in beta, so it’ll be interesting to see how this app shapes up. It’d be great to see the team maintain the simplicity and ease-of-use they’ve already built into the app as they go along. If you’re looking for a way to share files with a group easily and find other existing options a chore, give Glassboard a try.