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Cisco Spark refreshes itself
Learn everything about its new features right here.
Tags: Frink  Magazine  collaboration  cloud  UC  hybrid IT  CISCO Spark 
It turns out, though, that the usage of Spark has evolved as people have been spending more time with desktop applications. As a result, Cisco has reworked the Desktop and Web versions of its Spark service, so the client is now a native application written in C++ and Swift.

We, at Frink, have had the opportunity to help with the EFT testing of the client and can, thus, offer a quick overview of what is great about it. And make no mistake, the core services are still the same but the usability has gone through major improvements.

The main points we want to raise are as follows:

1. THE GENERAL SPEED. This is very important: with this latest release, Spark has become a lot faster. The client is faster with everything: encrypting content, large uploads, messages, you name it.

2. SEARCH IS BECOMING MORE USEFUL. Search has been improved both with regard to speed and accuracy. What is still missing is searching for actual content (e.g. PDF files), but that is something that is expected to come later in the year.

3. GREATLY IMPROVED CALLING EXPERIENCE. One of the main differentiators of Spark when compared to Slack or HipChat is its voice and video capabilities. What’s more, the new Spark client has improvements for calls, among which:
• better quality and lower CPU usage;
• a separate window for content: users are now able to see both the main video and the shared screen, as well as to freely move around the various windows;
• the ability to dock and undock the main video window, allowing it to move to a different screen;
Now here’s the deal: Cisco Spark is a great service as it is, but the Desktop Clients (Windows/MAC) have always felt like a bit of an afterthought. In other words, with Spark, Cisco really was going for a mobile-first strategy.
4. TEAM FEATURES. This is not strictly a feature of the new client but it happened to be released at the same time. Teams allow users to make Spark Rooms discoverable as well as join them on their own. Users can also create Teams and assign sub rooms, and the members of the Team can then decide which room(s) to join.

To illustrate, we might have a Team called FrinkTech and multiple sub-rooms in it for, say, different technologies. We then add all our technicians to the team, and each of them can then decide which rooms to join. Another way to use Teams would be to have a team for a project and different rooms for smaller tasks.

While this new version is only starting its journey, it is the technical underpinning for future improvements.
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Editorial team: Bernhard Albler, Mina Nacheva
• better sharing controls: users can now decide whether to share their complete screen or only individual apps. As an example, you can now share a Powerpoint presentation, without having to worry that the person on the other end will see your latest posts on Social Media. Also, users can now select which screen to share in multiple monitor setups.