Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 28th Aug 2013 15:43 UTC
Google

Noticed any differences when using Google's Hangouts video chat lately? If you did, then you may be one of the lucky users who has already received an upgrade to 720p HD video. The company quietly started to roll out HD for Hangouts to a subset of its users in the last few weeks and hopes to complete the rollout soon. But the change isn't just a quality upgrade - it's part of a bigger move towards open standards that will eventually bring us video chat in the browser without the need for any plugins.

To enable HD, and prepare for this plugin-free future, Google quietly started to transition Hangouts from the H.264 video codec to VP8, an open and royalty-free video codec the company released back in 2010. Google's Vice President of Engineering Chee Chew told me during a recent interview that the switchover from H.264 to VP8 should be more or less invisible to consumers, with some possibly noticing a little less choppiness. "It will be cleaner, better video," Chew said.

Good move.

On a related note, whatever happened to Apple's promise to make FaceTime an open standard?

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Comment by shmerl
by shmerl on Wed 28th Aug 2013 16:03 UTC
shmerl
Member since:
2010-06-08

Still no word from Google on opening Hangout protocol to enable federation? From the time they cut it off from XMPP all their direction went downhill openness wise. Switching codec is good and expected, but it still keeps it a closed garden without federation.

Reply Score: 8

RE: Comment by shmerl
by lucas_maximus on Wed 28th Aug 2013 16:07 UTC in reply to "Comment by shmerl"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

It essentially doesn't matter with WebRTC and Cross Browser Communication.

Anyone can make a web application (or any other kind of application I suppose), that allows you to sign in with Google or any other service (Twitter, Facebook essentially anything that implementes OAuth 2) and you be able to video chat/voice chat/IM.

Edited 2013-08-28 16:09 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Comment by shmerl
by andrewclunn on Wed 28th Aug 2013 16:20 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by shmerl"
andrewclunn Member since:
2012-11-05

So, no open code, but open codec and open API? I admit I'm a bit confused by the whole transition that is happening with Google Hangouts. If there's an informational article I could read somewhere, I'd appreciate a link.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by shmerl
by lucas_maximus on Wed 28th Aug 2013 17:06 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by shmerl"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

Tbh I wasn't overly commenting about Google Hangouts.

The tech being used here, one can find quite a few examples of how to do the same thing with WebRTC.

https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/WebRTC/Peer-to-peer_communi...

Edited 2013-08-28 17:08 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Comment by shmerl
by Alfman on Thu 29th Aug 2013 00:30 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by shmerl"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

When I found out how easy it was (at least conceptually) to use WebRTC to do video conferencing across platforms, I was immediately thrilled at the prospect of being able to dump skype in favor of it by telling friends to visit my webpage instead. It actually worked strait away for me on both window and linux with firefox... however I tried it on android and I couldn't get it to work under chrome or firefox.


Can anyone else get this video chat app working on android? Or iphone for that matter?

https://apprtc.appspot.com

Reply Score: 4

RE[5]: Comment by shmerl
by Lennie on Thu 29th Aug 2013 08:11 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by shmerl"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Some of the code is still a bit new, it will take a few more releases to be great. And mobile browsers don't always have the same support as the desktop browsers yet.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by shmerl
by 0brad0 on Thu 29th Aug 2013 10:27 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by shmerl"
0brad0 Member since:
2007-05-05

Make sure you're using Chrome 29 on Android.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by shmerl
by shmerl on Wed 28th Aug 2013 17:44 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by shmerl"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

Anyone can make anything. It's not the point. The point is that those things should be able to communicate with each other. WebRTC is a pipe, it doesn't dictate any signalling protocol used through it. So anyone can make something that will never work with anything that someone else will make. That's why there are actual protocols like XMPP, Jingle, SIP and etc. which enable interoperability.

Builds on the strength of the web browser: WebRTC abstracts signaling by offering a signaling state machine that maps directly to PeerConnection. Web developers can therefore choose the protocol of choice for their usage scenario (for example, but not limited to: SIP, XMPP/Jingle, etc...).


http://www.webrtc.org/faq#TOC-Why-should-I-use-WebRTC-

Edited 2013-08-28 17:49 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by shmerl
by lucas_maximus on Wed 28th Aug 2013 17:55 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by shmerl"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

I know what WebRTC is. FFS. You are so tiring.

WebRTC and all the other goodness it brings lets any browser which supports it, whatever the OS and anyone that can write a bit of JavaScript and a Server side script make a communications service.

I honestly dunno what can be more open than that?

Edited 2013-08-28 17:59 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Comment by shmerl
by shmerl on Wed 28th Aug 2013 18:13 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by shmerl"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

So what? How does it help the interoperability if there is no agreed messaging and signalling protocol which is supposed to be built on top of WebRTC? It's like saying that TCP/IP and UDP help building communication services. They do, but it's what built on top of them matters. So going back to Hangouts, since their protocol is closed, they aren't interoperable so the fact that they use WebRTC is completely irrelevant to the subject above.

Edited 2013-08-28 18:15 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Comment by shmerl
by lucas_maximus on Wed 28th Aug 2013 18:21 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by shmerl"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

The API is provided by the browser, which is a w3c spec, all you do is a handshake and exchange a token.

Edited 2013-08-28 18:23 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Comment by shmerl
by shmerl on Wed 28th Aug 2013 18:30 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by shmerl"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

Yes, for the basic communication. TCP/IP sockets are also useful for building other stuff, you know. But serious messaging network requires a complex set of instruments. User identification, presence and so on. Those are all higher level protocols like XMPP. Hangouts implement their own, that's the point. WebRTC is a lower level in this context and it doesn't matter that it's open for this issue.

Edited 2013-08-28 18:32 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[7]: Comment by shmerl
by lucas_maximus on Wed 28th Aug 2013 18:32 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by shmerl"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

No, browser to browser communication has all of that.

http://www.html5rocks.com/en/tutorials/webrtc/basics/

It is all there. And I found that in a single google.

All the other stuff you mention you can either use existing services like I already said, or build you own.

And it is a hell of a lot simpler than XMPP.

Reply Score: 4

RE[6]: Comment by shmerl
by Moochman on Wed 28th Aug 2013 18:31 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by shmerl"
Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

Yes, but how do you *find* the other users to chat with? Do you really expect everyone to send each other their current IP addresses and fire up their own hacked-together JavaScript pages at pre-appointed times to chat with each other? The API does not include presence notification, "ringing up" other people, chatting, etc. No one except extreme nerds are going to actually use the API in its "pure" form. This is why something like tying WebRTC together with XMPP would make a lot of sense...

Reply Score: 4

RE[7]: Comment by shmerl
by lucas_maximus on Wed 28th Aug 2013 18:37 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by shmerl"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

All it requires is a webpage and the appropriate server side technology

http://www.html5rocks.com/en/tutorials/webrtc/basics/

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Comment by shmerl
by Nelson on Wed 28th Aug 2013 18:44 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by shmerl"
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

If you support SSO via Twitter/FB you can use the tokens to enumerate the users friends. Probably will take some persisted state to cross reference between friends on those networks and friends on the service to see which are participants.

Reply Score: 4

RE[6]: Comment by shmerl
by terra on Wed 28th Aug 2013 22:58 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by shmerl"
terra Member since:
2012-11-01

You don't seem to understand the point. Have you ever developed video chat app with WebRTC? I have. That handshake (offer/answer) and exchanging ICE candidates things should go through some kind medium such as ajax, web socket or else, and WebRTC is neutral to that medium. It does not define what to use nor it does have such medium built into WebRTC specifications. As such each video chat app using WebRTC could implement differently from each others. If the implementation of that part is closed, Hangouts cannot be inter-operatable with others unless it is reverse-engineered. (and Google can change the implementation as their will and it then will be broken.)

Reply Score: 4

RE[7]: Comment by shmerl
by lucas_maximus on Thu 29th Aug 2013 12:10 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by shmerl"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

My point is that does it matter when you can easily implement "sign-in with x" and build you own site that interoperates with other social media sites?

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Comment by shmerl
by Lennie on Thu 29th Aug 2013 12:25 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by shmerl"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

XMPP is great, but I also think the WebRTC guys and gals might be taking a slightly different approach.

They want to have flexibility in how WebRTC is used, take Cromecast, it used WebRTC screensharing.

How would the model of XMPP apply to Chromecast ? Not so well I think.

A lot of work is not done with WebRTC.

They are actually now busy connecting the "identity assertions" to the encrypted media (audo, video, data):

http://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-ietf-rtcweb-security-arch-07

That is, I know, a different approach to XMPP.

But their goal is to support direct P2P media. It should eventually be possible so that your webbrowser can send the audio directly to a VoIP-phone.

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Comment by shmerl
by shmerl on Thu 29th Aug 2013 15:14 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by shmerl"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

So they are trying to standardize something above WebRTC? That's good, but it's nowhere standard yet.

Reply Score: 3

RE[7]: Comment by shmerl
by Lennie on Thu 29th Aug 2013 15:36 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by shmerl"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Maybe you should think of WebRTC more of a framework of protocols that can be used to build other things.

People are using XMPP and SIP with WebRTC, that works.

VoIP phones probably less good, because most VoIP phones don't support proper encryption and WebRTC only supports encrypted transport (it is probably a good thing to put improvement above compatibility).

But WebRTC itself does not define anything.

It is to bad Google Hangouts does not support XMPP anymore.

The real problem is of course that Google doesn't say why they did it, they probably have a plan.

My guess is some product or service they want to announce. Or use of Google Hangouts we haven't considered yet. Something like Google Helpouts maybe ?

Edited 2013-08-29 15:40 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by shmerl
by UltraZelda64 on Wed 28th Aug 2013 19:05 UTC in reply to "Comment by shmerl"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

Meh, who cares anymore? At this point, all you can really do is tell Google (and the NSA) to go fuck themselves and support real open standards yourself by creating an account on a Jabber server somewhere. Preferably one that is not on U.S. soil if you care even the slightest about Edward Snowden's revelations and the U.S. government's blatant violations of its own citizens' privacy, as well as people in other countries. I would personally avoid servers located in Britain also, since they're piggybacking off the NSA and have their nose firmly up the U.S. government's ass.

And to prevent your communications from being intercepted by the NSA while jumping around servers, it would be a good idea to avoid XMPP's federation completely by having people you know subscribe to the same non-U.S.-based XMPP service. As great as federation is, if you really care about your privacy it seems that privacy concerns brought upon by the NSA are forcing us to pick between independence of one service by using federation, or being tied to one service for privacy. It's pretty sad that it effectively comes down to this.

You could always chat "off-the-record," but have fun explaining to people why they should go through what they will undoubtedly perceive as unnecessary trouble. If they're anything like the typical people I know, have fun even getting them to sign up for a new account elsewhere and setting up an XMPP client.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by shmerl
by shmerl on Wed 28th Aug 2013 19:15 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by shmerl"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

OTR works perfectly fine with federation and it's not hard to set up. It doesn't work with MUC though (multi user chat), and it's a big downside.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by shmerl
by UltraZelda64 on Wed 28th Aug 2013 20:21 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by shmerl"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

I know that OTR works with federation, but the problem is convincing people to go through the extra trouble to use it. Most people won't.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Comment by shmerl
by shmerl on Wed 28th Aug 2013 20:50 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by shmerl"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

People who care about privacy will. Those who don't care aren't using XMPP probably to begin with. They use Skype and other such junk.

However there is a glaring lack of proper encryption support (OTR, ZRTP etc.) even in many XMPP clients. Especially on mobile. I think it's a much bigger barrier than people not willing to configure things.

Edited 2013-08-28 20:52 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by shmerl
by Lennie on Thu 29th Aug 2013 08:16 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by shmerl"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Atleast webrtc uses proper DTLS encryption, that is a lot better than most VoIP solutions and Skype and all the other crap.

Reply Score: 2

openness? lol
by wojtek on Wed 28th Aug 2013 16:38 UTC
wojtek
Member since:
2010-01-24

so... we close our protocol and advertise app with another 'open' standard... double standards at big-g?

Reply Score: 3

RE: openness? lol
by ichi on Wed 28th Aug 2013 17:14 UTC in reply to "openness? lol"
ichi Member since:
2007-03-06

so... we close our protocol and advertise app with another 'open' standard... double standards at big-g?


It seems to me that Google does really not like third parties messing with "non final" products.

I mean, knowing that Hangouts is eventually going WebRTC, ditching Talk's standard XMPP sounds a lot like the recent Chromecast issue: "we are leaving you out for now, but come back later".

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: openness? lol
by robojerk on Wed 28th Aug 2013 17:34 UTC in reply to "RE: openness? lol"
robojerk Member since:
2006-01-10

It seems to me that Google does really not like third parties messing with "non final" products.

Aren't most Google products "Non final" (beta)

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: openness? lol
by shmerl on Wed 28th Aug 2013 17:47 UTC in reply to "RE: openness? lol"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

WebRTC is not a replacement for XMPP. It's a lower level framework.

Edited 2013-08-28 17:47 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: openness? lol
by Lennie on Thu 29th Aug 2013 08:22 UTC in reply to "RE: openness? lol"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Did you know Chromecast is also using WebRTC ?

It's actually a form of WebRTC screensharing.

Reply Score: 3

Does this include Android?
by FunkyELF on Wed 28th Aug 2013 17:51 UTC
FunkyELF
Member since:
2006-07-26

From my experience using a Nexus 7 and a Nexus 4 for doing Google+ Hangouts the video has been terrible compared to Apple's FaceTime.

Don't know if this is due to the cameras in use or the software but the audio / video on FaceTime always looks better.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Does this include Android?
by Lennie on Thu 29th Aug 2013 12:27 UTC in reply to "Does this include Android?"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

This could have many reasons.

First of all Apple controls all parts of the stack, this always makes it easier to get something on the market.

Second, WebRTC is trying to create a standard, which takes time and effort.

WebRTC is still new and your call might have used VP8 without hardware acceleration. Who knows.

I hear recent Nexus devices have hardware encoders and decoders for VP8.

Reply Score: 2

Moochman
Member since:
2005-07-06

Until they fix the presence notification features (i.e., let me actually see a list of everyone who is logged in), I refuse to use Hangouts. How a company like Google, who otherwise gets so much right, could build something supposedly better and in the process completely remove core functionality like this, then proceed not to fix it for a half year despite users' almost universal outcry about it (just take a look at the Play Store page: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.tal...) is beyond me.

Reply Score: 5

Getting rid of plugins
by 0brad0 on Wed 28th Aug 2013 18:43 UTC
0brad0
Member since:
2007-05-05

Thank god for the move towards WebRTC. Getting rid of the use of god awful show stopper plugins so the service is available to a much wider audience is a good move.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Getting rid of plugins
by Vanders on Wed 28th Aug 2013 21:17 UTC in reply to "Getting rid of plugins"
Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

Yup. I could never get the Hangout plugin to work from my office, even in Chrome. Apparently the plugin and the corporate firewall disagreed on the details. Moving towards WebRTC is a good thing, although I'm sure someone will be along soon to tell me how "evil" they are for doing it, or something.

Reply Score: 5

Facetime infringes patents
by puenktchen on Sat 31st Aug 2013 17:47 UTC
puenktchen
Member since:
2007-07-27

On a related note, whatever happened to Apple's promise to make FaceTime an open standard?


I guess the patent problems Apple has may have something to do with them not keeping that promise:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/08/report-after-patent-loss...

Reply Score: 3