GOOGLE IS OFF to a solid start with the “we make hardware now” thing. The Pixel phone is great, Google Home and Google Wi-Fi look promising, and Chromecast is already really popular. Now comes Jamboard, a modern spin on an old-school tool: the whiteboard.
The 55-inch 4K touchscreen is the first hardware product in Google’s rebranded G Suite of cloud-based tools—you know, things like Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Docs. Those tools make long-distance collaboration easy online, but that can break down once everyone is in the same room. People have to agree which tool to use, and trying to sort it all out hampers spontaneity.
“We thought that might somehow limit creativity,” says Jonathan Rochelle, director of product for G Suite. “It made it so that when people wanted to be creative and collaborative, they can’t do the same thing at the same time. That bothered us, because the reason you’re in a meeting is to collaborate.”
Others have riffed on the digital whiteboard—Sharp’s Aquos Board and Microsoft’s Surface Hub come to mind. The difference here is how Google’s tools and cloud services tie it all together. Launch a Jamboard session and people can join in from anywhere using the Jamboard app on an Android or iOS device. They see a real-time feed from the board and can add text, photos, and drawings to the mix. The leader of the session can share it all with Google Hangout participants.