Citrix has added native video and audio chat to its Podio enterprise social suite to complement the other communication and collaboration features in the product.
Podio's video and audio chat feature is launched from the suite's browser-based interface, so users can initiate these types of communication sessions without moving to a separate product, the company said Tuesday.
Currently, the audio and video chat sessions can only be established between two users, but groups will be supported at a later date.
The goal is to accommodate ad-hoc audio and video chats that don't require formal planning and scheduling and that can be launched quickly within the context of the other Podio tasks.
The first time a user launches Podio video and audio chat, he is prompted to install a plug-in, which is available for Windows and Mac OS computers, and for the Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer browsers. Podio video and audio chat for the suite's iOS application is due later this year.
Podio audio and video chat also lets users share files from services including ShareFile, Google Drive, SugarSync, Dropbox, Box, Microsoft's SkyDrive, Ubuntu One and YouSendIt.
The Vert digital marketing agency got a chance to test the new Podio functionality for a few months prior to its launch and has found it to be a good addition to the suite.
"It's a middle ground between plain text IM chats and in-person communications," said Kevin Planovsky, Vert's co-founder.
Vert has been using Podio for about two years, and the suite has become the company's primary collaboration, communication and project management tool. The agency has been using Google Hangouts for its occasional video chats, but foresees making increased use of audio and video communications through Podio, he said.
Tuesday's announcement builds upon the addition of instant messaging (IM) to Podio in May, which gave users the ability to engage in one-to-one and group text chats from within the suite's interface.
Podio customers who need to hold a planned meeting with a group of users have the option of resorting to Citrix's GoToMeeting service. In addition to supporting video conferencing for groups, GoToMeeting also has a web meeting component where users can share their screens.
Podio and GoToMeeting are integrated in a way that allows Podio users to arrange, schedule and create GoToMeeting sessions. Deeper integration between the two products is in the works. The Podio audio and video chat functionality was built on the GoToMeeting enterprise-grade platform.
This gives customers the option to install business applications built for the product by Podio and by third-party developers. Customers can also build their own custom applications using the product's drag-and-drop development tool, which the company says is simple enough for non-programmers to use.
Podio is designed for small and medium size businesses, as well as teams within large organizations.
Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.