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

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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RE: Comment by shmerl
by UltraZelda64 on Wed 28th Aug 2013 19:05 UTC in reply to "Comment by shmerl"
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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.

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