TimeBridge is way cool scheduling

TimeBridge allows you to optionally add a free conference call number.

I've written about scheduling services several times in this newsletter and in my Network World Gearhead column and, guess what - In this issue I have another entrant into the scheduling market: TimeBridge. What impressed me is that TimeBridge definitely takes the crown of "most polished" in its category.

In common with other scheduling services TimeBridge allows you to define potential meeting slots but uniquely allows you to optionally add a free conference call number or even find a restaurant through the booking service, OpenTable.

You can create overlapping slots so that if you want to schedule a 1-hour meeting you can offer it from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. or from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.. Given that there is a maximum of only five slots (which appears to be a user interface design issue) I’d really like to see the ability to set a window such as 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and allow participants to select, for example, any 1-hour slot within the window.

Once you’ve selected your slots you can then invite as many people as you like to select which slots will work for them.

To invite participants you can either add their e-mail addresses directly or import your address book from Gmail or Outlook. Invitees, who don’t have to have a TimeBridge account, can follow the link in their invite message and label the suggested slots as “Best”, “Yes”, or “No”. Timebrdige attempts to figure out the best common time for all participants.

TimeBridge is aesthetically pleasing -- always a big plus as far as I’m concerned although I have to say that I don’t like the cartoon characters that litter the site – they remind me of those smug and obnoxious cartoon characters used in the eSurance ads on television.

The service is also well-organized in terms of usability but where TimeBridge scores really big is in its two-way integration with Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, and iCal-based systems. This integration is enormously powerful allowing you to see your own availability while scheduling in the TimeBridge calendar as well as updating your own calendar with the TimeBridge entries.

TimeBridge also creates a Web page showing your availability although I’d like to see the ability to “black out” times such before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. on weekdays and all weekend to more accurately reflect when you are really available.

Another cool feature is TimeBridge’s The Daily Brief. This is a daily e-mail that shows your events for the following day (even if they weren’t created in TimeBridge) along with profiles on meeting participants (pulled from LinkedIn and ZoonInfo), weather forecasts, and maps and directions!

Did I mention that TimeBridge is free? To pay the bills the company plans to add on premium services in the future and it appears to have ambitious plans for additional features.

This is definitely the best scheduling service I’ve seen so far and raises the bar very high for competitors. I’ll give TimeBridge a “Way Cool” out of 10.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.