TimeBridge full review

Sending a meeting request to multiple parties is often a shot in the dark. You might schedule a meeting with a PC user running Microsoft Outlook or, if you use Apple’s iCal, you might try to set up a meeting with someone who uses a Web-based scheduler, such as Google Calendar.

TimeBridge, which bills itself as a "personal scheduling assistant," makes it easy to schedule meetings, regardless of which scheduling tool people are using. Ingenious and well designed, TimeBridge has the potential to be a smart and useful product, but it lacks a few important features. I also uncovered several bugs during my test period, some of which were successfully resolved.

Make my day

The real strength of this free Web application - and the free TimeBridge Connector for Mac add-on - is that you can schedule a meeting without the boring, repetitious, time-consuming back and forth of exchanging prospective dates with numerous parties.

With TimeBridge, you click one large button to create a new meeting request, type in the e-mail addresses of the attendees, suggest a few dates and time slots, and click Send. The Web application does the rest: each participant selects the meeting slot they prefer, and TimeBridge aggregates the responses and chooses the day and time that works best. (In essence, when you organise the meeting, you are agreeing to any of the times you suggest.)

A meeting request arrives in a participant’s inbox as a Web form with a large button that says Click Here to Reply. When an invitee replies, that person’s meeting preferences are recorded and matched with other invitees. For meeting participants, there’s no registration process, and no client to install. In fact, to accept a meeting, attendees do not even need to use any calendar software.

Of course, there’s more to the tool than just meeting requests. The TimeBridge Connector, for example, syncs with Apple iCal automatically; so, if you create a new meeting in iCal, your meeting will appear in TimeBridge. This is an important feature, because TimeBridge also allows you to share a public calendar that shows only your busy times (to maintain privacy).

You can even download widgets for social networking sites. For example, a Facebook widget lets anyone click to see your schedule. TimeBridge even offers a personal Web site to host your schedule.

TimeBridge is missing a few important features, however. For one thing, it lets you sync with only one schedule at a time. It would be great if the program allowed you to aggregate a work schedule from iCal and a home schedule from Google Calendar. Secondly, the social networking applets show only your busy status; I’d prefer that they show a thumbnail of my calendar.

And third, the program doesn’t support Microsoft Entourage (not because TimeBridge doesn’t want to, but because Microsoft does not allow third-party access to the schedule format). Entourage users can always download a confirmed calendar item to their own calendar. TimeBridge also does not work with popular standards such as vCal, and offers only limited support for Hotmail and Yahoo! services, such as a contact list import option.

NEXT: Web conferencing and a few bugs

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