Android users can create video-like shows from document, slides with new software

Android smartphone users now can access online, video-like presentations created from existing documents and slides, with a new app from Brainshark.

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Brainshark offers a set of tools that can take existing PowerPoint slides, word documents, photos and other files, and combine these with animations (from simple to complex), fade ins/outs, video clips, and voice-over narration. The result is a video-like, interactive presentation that can be accessed by PCs and increasingly by mobile devices.

In April, Brainshark released an update to its enterprise-targeted Brainshark Enhanced Mobile software, with a new Adobe Flash-based player for Android and Palm webOS devices, and changes to Brainshark's iOS app, it's first foray into a native mobile Brainshark experience.

Now Brainshark is extending the capabilities found in the iOS app to Android smartphones, via a free app downloadable from Android Marketplace. With it, customers of either the free consumer service or the paid enterprise service can access video content hosted by Brainshark, log into their account, and see their list of authorized Brainshark presentations, or the free library's contents. Clicking on a presentation calls up information about it, such as how long it runs, and its author.

Users also can respond to embedded surveys or polls created by the author. Brainshark collects these responses, along with metrics about how the viewer interacted with the video, such as how much of the video is watched, what parts are watched in what order, whether the viewer clicks on attachments and links, and sends the data back to the author in a set of reports.

"Mobile video today is passive," says Andy Zimmerman, chief marketing officer, Brainshark, Waltham, Mass. "You stream it, watch it, pause it. But we let you download links, attachments, interactive polls, and so on. It's a much more interactive experience."

The new app, available now, works with any Android smartphone running version 2.1 or higher of the firmware. Brainshark plans to tune the app for use on Android 3.0 and higher tablets.

The company released its first mobile version for iOS devices in January 2011. Analysis of those visits show that iPad users are the most active mobile viewers of the video content; that video viewing picks up from about mid-week onwards, and then more than doubles during the weekend.

The free, single-user edition of the Brainshark service is called Users can upgrade to MyBrainshark Pro for additional features. Pricing for the online service, which for business customers includes Brainshark Enhanced Mobile, varies based on the size of the business: small office/home office professionals, typically start at $10 per month, up to $3,000 per year; small-to-midsize businesses, run $10,000 to $30,000 per year; large businesses, over $50,000 per year.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.


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