Google has launched its answer to Microsoft’s Surface Hub: a cloud-connected touchscreen whiteboard device called Jamboard.
It’s a large display and new software that enables collaboration with other Jamboards (across the building or across the country) and also on iOS or Android tablets or phones.
The display can attach to a wall, but Google has also built a large stand with four legs and wheels for the device.
People in participating in a “jam” can pull in Google text documents and spreadsheets, images, PDFs, and slides from Google Drive and then post them to the board. No video as of right now.
Jamboard offers users who are in the room tools like sticky notes and stencils to help shape ideas. One feature turns handwriting on the board into text. Another turns inexactly drawn shapes into perfect squares and circles.
Users can write on the board using large pens that contain no active electronics. So the handwriting experience isn’t perfect but the pens need no batteries or charging.
Google says a small group of enterprise customers—Netflix, Spotify, and Instrument—have been beta testing the product for the past few months. About 30 teams across Google have also been using Jamboard.
The phone app can search nearby for any boards, and if it finds one, it can save a screenshot of what’s on the display. Users of the mobile app can dictate their additions to the whiteboard.
There’s also a video-conferencing element. You can present to a meeting, send a copy, and broadcast or join a Jamboard. You can also present the board to a Google Hangout.
The device itself looks like a 60-inch HDTV. There’s a toolbar at the left side of the screen—calendar, web browser, maps. These features open in a panel at the left margin of the screen. You can easily capture grabs from maps or web pages and post them to the whiteboard.
Objects on the screen are easily sized with multitouch gestures, and users can write notes and annotate around the content on the board.
Google says more enterprises will begin using the product today as part of an “early adoption” program.