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Posts from April 13, 2014 - April 19, 2014

Google Voice API Shutdown Saddens Me

Here's the untold story that dates back to 2006 or so when I was working on the social media aspects of GrandCentral, now Google Voice. Back then, I was traveling a lot to the UK and France and wanted to have access in both directions to my incoming calls and voice mail messages, as well as have the ability to return calls using GrandCentral from Europe when I was using an unlocked phone, a local SIM, without international roaming or long distance calls, and also keeping it easy for my clients, colleagues and friends to reach me easily.

So, after suggesting the interop to both Craig Walker at Grand Central and Michael Robertson of Gizmo back then, Vincent Paquet of Grand Central and Jason Droege who was running Gizmo at the time had a call and simply executed a SIP interop where Gizmo's end points could be GrandCentral reachable, much like Hangouts is today. Making this suggestion was easy because I knew that GrandCentral already was built on SIP.

But it was more than just an interop that was interesting to me. Gizmo also provided local access numbers in the UK and France as well as other countries, much like Skype does. So using some SIP based simplicity I quickly realized that when I was in those countries if I dialed a local Gizmo number on a second Gizmo account that I had already pointed to GrandCentral, entered my password, I was now in my Grand Central account FROM Europe. To be reached on my mobile phones, I pointed the Gizmo number that was receiving the calls from GrandCentral to my "local" numbers and voila, I had made GrandCentral global and that meant I wasn't taking and placeing calls on my Mac only, I was receiving them on my Nokia phone and calling back to the USA for almost nothing.

This was all before the API and the apps like GrooveIP and TalkaTone which have taken advantage of the GoogleTalk API, and what's more, with a SIP client like CounterPath's Bria I was doing even more tricks with GrandCentral and Gizmo, Truphone and OnSip, all of whom I had or still have SIP credentials from.

Knowing we're in the sunset period of the Google Voice API saddens me as so much of the new GoogleVoice/Hangouts has its roots in what was started back in the mid 2000's is really making so much possible. Guys like Robertson, Droege, Jeff Bonforte along with Walker and Paquet had ideas that were ahead of their time, and now with Hangouts about to become the way Google has people Talking, its great to see how communications keeps moving forward.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

WebRTC is Here, Now and You're Already Using It

Are you a user of Calliflower, UberConference, Voxeet or now a free version of GoToMeeting? Well if you are, they WebRTC is a part of your daily workflow.

With WebRTC in the guts of the services we’re now seeing just what WebRTC can deliver, and when one hears how much brighter the audio is, and sees how crisp video is it’s not hard to believe that only ten years ago services like SightSpeed were pioneering laptop/desktop video and Skype was just entering the game. Yet I would contend that we’re only beginning to see and hear how real time communications will change, not because of WebRTC, as that’s only a part of the changing landscape. What we’re seeing is a complete change in user behavior, interface design and the experience we have in over not only laptops but now tablets and smartphones.

I’m a bit surprised that Apple hasn’t done more with FaceTime, which already uses SIP at its core, especially when one considers how far Google is going with Hangouts. Then again, Apple has been in lock step with Microsoft in holding back on being in on the WebRTC standard. FaceTime is native now on all platforms, yet, its still only point to point, one to one communications, and the APIs for it remain off limits to the developers of other real time communications apps. And therein lies the reason why WebRTC in the apps and services is so crucial. With WebRTC there’s a way around the private APIs, and for users who want to move forward, its a path, while for developers it’s all a part of the journey.