Unless you’ve been out of the workforce for the last ten years, give or take, you’ve probably noticed that just about every organization out there — from humble nonprofits to sprawling multinational corporations — is using some sort of communications platform to keep their workers connected. Good internal communication has always been a business essential.
In terms of communications tech, you’re probably familiar with services like Zoom and Slack. But did you know that Amazon has its own communications platform? Meet Chime, one of the newer additions to the massive, ever-growing AWS suite.
AWS Chime gives organizations the opportunity to boost connectivity and collaboration by providing a one-size-fits-all solution to business communication needs. Plus, it’s a contract-free service. You pay as you go rather than making an upfront commitment.
We took a close look at AWS Chime and found that it’s a user-friendly app, good for both 1:1 communications and larger meetings. It provides seamless integration across all your devices, it comes with best-in-class security features, and the pay-as-you-go model is appealing to those of us who hate getting locked into contracts.
Sound like you might want to try using Chime for your communication needs? Read on to find out more about how this service works!
Must-Know Facts About AWS Chime
- AWS Chime is a communications service that allows dispersed teams to keep in touch across multiple channels and devices.
- As with other communication tools, Chime lets users schedule and host meetings with hundreds of participants.
- With Chime, users can place calls to colleagues and clients outside their organization.
- AWS Chime syncs across multiple devices, allowing you to do nifty things like starting a call on your phone and continuing it on your desktop without interruptions.
- Chime has all the nice bells and whistles that people have come to expect out of a communications app. However, is awarded bonus points for its reliable connectivity, video and audio quality, and robust security.
What is AWS Chime: Explained
Created by Amazon as part of Amazon Web Services, Chime is a user-friendly communications service that enables multi-channel communication and collaboration among teams. You can schedule and host meetings, chat with colleagues through voice and text, and place calls both inside and outside your organization. It allows you to manage users within your organization and set up user policies.
Chime streams meetings in HD video and audio and allows users to share their screens without having to ask permission. Like other popular communications services, Chime also features in-meeting chat and the ability to dial into meetings. It is also compatible with most in-room video conferencing tools.
The user interface is strikingly similar to Slack or Teams. Like these apps, you can either chat with people one on one or have conversations with groups of people. Additionally, you can search within conversations to find the people or topics you’re looking for, or give coworkers an @mention to call their attention to something.
With Chime, you can also place calls to people. Even if they’re outside your organization and aren’t on Chime, the app will let you phone someone as if you’re using a mobile device. Speaking of mobile devices, AWS Chime syncs with your phone, so that if someone’s calling you on your phone, Chime will also notify you through the desktop and mobile app.
Security and administration are other notable aspects of using AWS Chime. Having secure lines of communication is understandably a critical need for businesses of any size. To that end, Chime users are fortunate to be able to benefit from all the robust security features that AWS offers for its other tools and services. Let’s go over some of Chime’s main components below.
You can easily schedule and host meetings with Chime. Setting up and starting meetings is a familiar experience for anyone who has used Google Meets or Zoom. Users can join meetings with a simple tap. No passcode is needed. You can also join by following a personalized meeting URL, or even by asking Alexa to put you in the meeting. Additionally, you can add “[email protected]” to the meeting invite on your calendar so that you’ll get a call before the meeting starts.
In-meeting features are what you’d expect out of any good communications technology. There’s a Visual Roster that shows who’s in attendance and who’s running late. There is also an option to record meetings for posterity. Additionally, there are Video Tiles that highlight the current speaker and allow you to interact virtually with other attendees. Plus, there are break-out rooms and a text box for in-meeting chats. Chime also makes it easy to find noisy, disruptive people so you can mute them.
Chime is recognized for optimal performance running meetings. There’s seldom any lag, and video and audio quality rarely experience hiccups. A lot of this probably has to do with Chime’s ability to select the best server host for the meeting based on where attendees are located. That, plus Chime meetings are supported by AWS network telemetry. This means the automated measurement and transmission of data from remote sources.
With so many now permanently working remotely, how do companies ensure effective collaboration across dispersed teams? This is a problem that AWS Chime’s collaborative tools help solve.
As noted earlier, Chime contains an easy-to-use chat interface for engaging with colleagues—either in groups or one on one. Teams can also share files with one another and break out into quick informal meetings to hash out ideas together. Further, users can share screens to go over a complicated technical issue with a seasoned coworker.
Let’s also say you need to urgently ping your manager or another coworker, but you’re not sure if they’re available. You don’t want to bug them right away with a pesky “Hey, got a sec?” message. Well, Chime has a feature called Smart Presence that will automatically try to detect someone’s status based on their calendar or computer activities. A green light means they’re available, while a red light signals they ought to be left alone.
With Chime, your communications aren’t necessarily restricted solely to those who have the same app. Need to make calls to current or prospective clients outside of your organization? You can do that with Chime, too.
AWS Chime’s business calling features are nearly identical to mobile phone service. You can send and receive calls from around the world, send and receive texts, and check voicemail and call history.
With Chime, though, your calls and messages sync across devices. You could even, say, transfer a current call from your mobile phone to your desktop without interrupting the flow of the conversation. You can also turn the call into a Chime meeting — even if the person you’re on the phone with doesn’t have Chime.
Security and Administration
It’s unlikely that you’ll make Chime your official comms channel without assurance that communications in the app will be secure. Fortunately, security is no issue, especially given Amazon’s reliable infrastructure and protocols.
For starters, Chime is built on AWS Cloud. This means that Chime comes with the data, network, and security benefits that come along with Cloud. Chime is also integrated with AWS CloudTrail to allow for the logging and continuous monitoring of account activity. In other words, if there’s any suspicious activity in your organization’s comms, your administrator will know right away.
Amazon also allows you to encrypt your data on the Chime platform, giving you even more peace of mind. All messages, audio, and video content that passes through Chime are encrypted with AES 256-bit encryption.
Additionally, AWS Chime makes it easy to administer your users so that you can suspend users as needed and set policies to manage their access in other ways. You can also integrate Chime with AWS Directory Services or Okta SSO to authenticate and manage users within your organization.
How to Use AWS Chime
By now, you’re probably excited to jump in and start using AWS Chime to take your company’s internal comms to the next level. Getting started with Chime is pretty simple if you have ever interacted with the AWS ecosystem before, and if not. It’s easy—we promise!
You can’t go anywhere with this service unless you download the Amazon Chime web app, so that’s the first step. Then, you’ll need to create an AWS account if you don’t already have one. Once you’re signed in, you’ll be able to authenticate and grant access to Chime.
Once you have an account and you’re set up on one device, it’s a simple process getting your other devices configured with Chime. It’s just a matter of downloading the app and logging into your account. Chime is compatible with Windows and Mac and is available in the Apple, Microsoft, and Android stores.
Fortunately, since Chime is pay-as-you-go, you never need to worry about signing contracts or making any commitments. If you’re using Chime in a business setting, though, expect to have to pay to use the service. Info on pricing can be found here.
Now, you just need to add some contacts and start chatting with people and setting up meetings!
This is the basic process for getting up and going with Chime. In the next section, we’ll get into methods for further learning so that you can get the most out of using this service.
How to Learn AWS Chime
Now, unless you have little exposure to chat and meeting apps, you’re probably not going to have much difficulty figuring out how to use Chime. In fact, the app is lauded for its ease of use. That said, if you’re planning to use Chime in a business context, you’ll need to be strategic about how the service is used. This will require some exploration into the app’s full suite of features.
Like all of their services, Amazon has made it easy to locate and learn Chime and get up and running quickly. The AWS Chime documentation is a super helpful resource discussing all facets of configuring and deploying the app. Start with the docs and follow YouTube tutorials via the AWS channel to wrap your head around using it.
There’s one aspect of Chime that’s a tad more complex. It’s a feature we haven’t really talked about here because it pertains more to developers. It’s a configuration known as “webhooks,” and it basically allows developers to add messaging, audio, and video communication functionality to their own websites or apps.
For a full explanation of AWS Chime SDK, along with some helpful examples, we recommend exploring the documentation on GitHub.
AWS Chime: When Is it Not the Best Choice?
AWS Chime is a user-friendly service that is virtually guaranteed to add a boost to your business communication and collaboration needs. Even so, it’s not ideal in every situation. Let’s discuss when you would want to use Chime, and when you would be better off with an alternative communication app.
Reviewers like that AWS Chime is secure, easy to use, and offers greater flexibility in terms of pricing compared to similar services. However, a major disadvantage to using Chime appears to be its lack of advanced features. In fact, one critic points out that part of why the interface is user-friendly is precisely because there are not many features to get lost in!
Another grievance that consumers have with Chime includes, oddly enough, the tech. It appears that some users have had difficulty with the UI. Some reviewers have also noted that the price rises quickly if you’re a large organization. Competitors who use fixed pricing might end up being a more economical option.
AWS chime is also not the most flexible choice. Essentially, a commitment to using AWS Chime is also a guarantee that you’re probably going to end up resorting to Amazon’s other line of products as well. If all you use are AWS products, it sure makes things simpler. However, if you want to use a variety of products from different vendors, it might complicate things.
You may want to explore some alternatives if you’re disappointed with the lack of features or nervous about getting locked into the AWS ecosystem. The good news is that there are plenty of other communications tools out there–here are just a few of them.
This slick chat app is a superb, widely used service. Employees are so pleased with its chat features that you won’t have a hard time finding memes of people complaining that their new job uses Microsoft Teams instead of Slack.
With Slack, pricing is fixed per user. So, unlike with Chime, there won’t be any unpleasant surprises when you get your bill.
On the other hand, Slack is strong on its chat features but doesn’t offer much in the way of videoconferencing. Companies that use Slack usually need to rely on another service for hosting virtual meetings.
Zoom is the likely first choice for companies that already have a chat service but need a tool that can host meetings big and small. Zoom’s popularity experienced an atomic explosion when companies went remote following the COVID-19 outbreak. It has basically been riding that wave ever since.
However, did you know that Zoom can be used for more than just videoconferencing? That’s right! Zoom now has a service called Zoom One, which is an all-in-one meet, chat, and collaboration service a la Microsoft Teams or AWS Chime. Forbes’ response to this service is highly favorable, though they admit that Zoom’s “spotty history” with security is a major drawback.
AWS Chime: Release History
AWS Chime is a relative newcomer in the larger AWS lineup. Amazon released the service in February 2017, aiming to compete with communication tools that already existed on the market — such as Google Meets, Slack, Zoom, Teams, and Skype.
Since its initial release, Amazon has added more collaboration tools and messaging features to Chime. AWS has also kept up with security updates in order to avoid trolling fiascos and other privacy issues that have plagued other communications services.
Frankly, though, AWS Chime has not turned out to be quite as big of a disruptor in this particular industry as was hoped. It remains to be seen if Amazon will be able to add enough advanced features to the app to put it in league with the likes of Slack and Zoom.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Sharaf Maksumov/Shutterstock.com.