There are plenty of whiteboard apps and web services available for collaboration and sharing, so what makes Collaborate one of the best Windows Phone apps? It’s simple, easy to use, and effective; and it’s from Microsoft Garage, which has quickly earned a reputation for developing cool and innovative software.
According to Microsoft, Collaborate “creates a frictionless way for you and a couple of colleagues to be able to do a brainstorm. Nobody has to photograph the whiteboard or jot down notes in email … It is a digitally authentic experience designed for sharing right from the start.”
This sharing app actually consists of two parts, a Windows Phone 8.1 app, and a Windows 8.1 app of the same name. As it stands, only the Windows 8.1 app can both host and join collaboration sessions, while the Windows Phone 8.1 app is limited to joining sessions. There are no Android or iOS versions as of publication.
While joined, Windows Phone users can call up photos and text blocks into a staging area, where they can then tap to send it to the “whiteboard” on the host’s computer. The host can then drag, resize, and rotate the content, and use a pen (should the Win 8.1 device support one) to ink and scribble notes.
Users can save staging areas for future sessions, while hosts can save .PNG files of old whiteboards.
Currently, joining sessions is done via six-digit alphanumeric code, though QR code support should arrive with a future update. As stated, it’s very simple, and designed for quick and impromptu collaboration. The app was just launched October 22, so it’s due for more features with future updates. Hosting sessions via the Windows Phone 8.1 app would be nice, as would Android and iOS compatibility.
Also, the app could benefit from greater Windows Phone 8.1 integration. Users can import images from the Photos app into the staging area, but that’s it, while Windows 8.1 users can import highlighted text and screenshots from other Windows 8.1 apps into Collaborate via the “Share” charm.
Sure, those are significant shortcomings. But that it’s from Microsoft Garage gives it a pedigree, and that it’s only a few weeks old as of writing this gives us hope that Collaborate will soon become the default whiteboard app for Windows users. It’s also free, so what do Windows Phone users have to lose?