DisplayNote Technologies, well-known for their DisplayNote software for presentations and lessons, has recently released a free app that is designed to help with collaboration and group work.
The app, called Swoodle, allows for users to collaborate on projects from a distance, editing files in real-time and communicating with each other online no matter how far apart they are. The app is ideal for students, whose busy and erratic schedules often make group work and assignments difficult.
“What Swoodle does really well is collaborate” said Kris Nixon, a content creator for Displaynote. “Pretend we’re students, and our professor has just told us to work together on a presentation…but you’re out of town this weekend, and I’m working. Instead of trying to find time to go to the same place, we can work together through Swoodle.”
While the app may seem really similar to other collaborative software such as Google Docs, one of the primary differences is its focus on communication. Swoodle has a chat feature, an option for video feed, and a feature where users can “draw” on the screen (similar to the “whiteboard marker” function of a Smartboard), and all of their drawings, notes, suggestions and edits show up on other users’ screens in real-time. The app is designed so that users can not only edit the same documents, but can also communicate and work together on a project at the same time.
Swoodle was originally developed internally by DisplayNote staff in order to help them with their own collaboration. The company had locations in Belfast (where Nixon works) and Spain, but they found it difficult working collaboratively between offices in the two countries. After trying several different solutions, the employees decided that their best option was to simply make their own program for what they needed to do.
“We tried using a bunch of different solutions,” said Nixon. “Then we realized our company makes collaborative software, so why not make collaborative software (for ourselves)?”
Because the app was not initially developed as a commercial product, it is currently free to use and offered without advertisements or in-app purchases. Nixon emphasized that the company is sharing the app free of charge because they want an opportunity to share the resource that they developed for themselves.
“Our entire company is about getting things done,” said Nixon. “We built it because we needed to use it, and we thought there was no reason that others shouldn’t get to do the same.”
In addition to uploading, editing and discussing documents in real-time, Swoodle users can also work with an image tool to upload images or series of images, and draw on and edit these images in real-time.
The app attempts to reproduce the experience of being in the same room as a group of people doing a project together.
“You can chat, or do a video feed so you can actually see each other… so much of communication is visual, and it allows it to be visible,” said Nixon. “There’s no limit to how many people you can have. We can build on our work together. The only thing Swoodle doesn’t do is provide pizza. You get instant feedback and instant communication.”
The app is available for iOS and Android, and intends to have a desktop version available by Christmas. For more information, check out goswoodle.com