Posts categorized "Google"

Google Finally Kills Off GoogleTalk and XMPP (Jabber) Integration

GoogleTalk is dead, Jim!

By way of a comment to a post I wrote back in May 2013 about Google seeming to kill off XMPP/Jabber support in Google+ Hangouts (spoiler: They did!), I learned from a friend that the GoogleTalk API was officially deprecated as of February 23, 2015. I confirmed this by finding a Google+ post from Google's Mayur Kamat.

Now, this is not a surprise. Google has been clear that Hangouts was the replacement and also that Hangouts does not support XMPP:

Googletalk end

Still, I'm sad to see the XMPP integration die off. It is just a continuation of the descent of messaging services into walled gardens ... a topic I've been writing about for many years.

UPDATE: Please see the post "No, it’s not the end of XMPP for Google Talk" on the XMPP Standards Foundation site. The XSF notes that XMPP is still used inside of Google and that XMPP federation can still occur with a third-part XMPP client. However, because Google does not support the secure use of XMPP via TLS, many public XMPP servers will not connect to its server. I join the XSF in wishing that Google would embrace secure messaging and better federation. However, given that their product direction is for Hangouts, which does NOT support XMPP, I'm skeptical that we'll ever see any better federation at this point.

On that note, it was really no surprise to see the media reports about Microsoft killing off Google and Facebook chat support in its Outlook.com service. Microsoft made this Google integration available back in May 2013, but today Microsoft really has no choice:

  • Google has killed off XMPP integration with Hangouts.
  • Facebook has killed off XMPP integration with their new v2.0 API.

And so Microsoft can only offer Outlook.com its own proprietary walled garden... Skype!

Goodbye GoogleTalk and... sadly... goodbye XMPP integration!


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Lesson Learned The Hard Way - Google+ Hangouts On Air ...

I learned a hard lesson today that Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) are limited to 4 hours in length.... and to read the rest of the story, visit Disruptive Conversations...

(Good lesson that I shouldn't be posting articles at 1:00am! But leaving this post up here for a bit because there are now social media links out there pointing to this URL...)


Further Thoughts on the Google Voice / Google+ Hangouts Integration

Google hangoutsMy post this week about Google Voice ringing into Google+ Hangouts generated a good bit of commentary, not only on the original post but also out on Hacker News, Reddit, Google+ and other areas. Given the range of responses, I thought I'd reply to a couple of points and also expand on some further related topics. So here goes...

"DUH! This is nothing new/disruptive. You could do it forever with GTalk/Gmail!"

A common response was to point out to me that Google Voice had been integrated with GoogleTalk / GMail for quite some time and so this integration was really nothing new.

Okay, fair enough. Point taken.

I'll admit that I never keep GMail open in a web window and so while I do recall that this integration was there in the past, I never personally used it.

Similarly, in Google+, I've taken to logging out of the GoogleTalk/chat sidebar because I found it was sucking up CPU cycles on my Mac. For whatever reason, the new Hangouts sidebar doesn't seem to consume as much CPU cycles and so I've left it running there.

So yes, the integration may have been there in the past and now it is there in Hangouts - and people like me are actually now noticing it. :-)

Ringing G+ Hangouts BEFORE Ringing Other Devices

There were a couple of comments that it seemed like calls to a Google Voice number rang the Google+ Hangouts first and then rang the other devices connected to the GV number. In my own testing there does seem to be about a 3-second delay between when the call starts ringing in Google+ Hangouts and when it starts ringing on my cell phone and Skype. Now, this may be a fact of Google giving priority to their own application - or it may just be an architectural fact that when they fork the call out to the different numbers it is faster to connect to their own service while the calls to my cell and my Skype numbers have to go through various PSTN gateways. Either way, there does seem to be a degree of delay before all devices ring.

Delay In Answering

A couple of people noted that there was a delay from the time you hit "Answer" to when the call was actually established. I've noticed this, too, although not consistently. I think part of it may be with starting up the Hangouts component inside of your browser - particularly with getting the video going, since that seems to be required for the Hangouts component. It may also be just the paths through whatever systems Google is using. It's certainly something to monitor.

Google Voice Call Does Not Ring The Hangouts App on iOS

In my own testing, I found a curious omission. When I call in on my Google Voice number, it does not ring on my Hangouts app running on my iPad. It rings Hangouts on my web browser... but nothing happens in the mobile app. Now, my iPhone rings - but that is because it is also connected to the Google Voice account. I didn't try removing that number from Google Voice and then seeing if the Hangouts app on the iPhone would ring. At least for the iPad, nothing happens. It would be great if this did work so that I could receive the calls on that mobile device.

XMPP...

Multiple people pointed out that my final remark about maybe some day getting SIP support was probably unrealistic given Google "dropping" XMPP support. I was admittedly away on vacation and at a conference last week and so I missed this point in all the announcement about Hangouts coming out of Google I/O. I wrote about this yesterday, though: Did Google REALLY Kill Off All XMPP/Jabber Support In Google+ Hangouts? It Still Seems To Partially Work

Although, as pointed out in a comment on Google+, this "partial" XMPP support may just be a factor of the continued GoogleTalk support - and may fade away when Google finally pulls the plug on that.

This is definitely an area where it would be helpful if Google could provide a few clarifications.

That's all I have right now for a quite update and response to points. Thanks for all the great comments and I do look forward to seeing where Google is going with all of this.


You can also listen to an audio version of this post:



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Did Google REALLY Kill Off All XMPP/Jabber Support In Google+ Hangouts? It Still Seems To Partially Work

Google hangoutsDid Google really kill off all of their support for XMPP (Jabber) in Google+ Hangouts? Or is it still there in a reduced form? Will they be bringing back more support? What is really going on here?

In my excitement yesterday about Google Voice now being integrated with Google+ Hangouts, I missed a huge negative side of the new Hangouts change that is being widely reported: the removal of support for the XMPP (Jabber) protocol and interoperability with third-party clients.

But yet a few moments ago I did have a chat from an external XMPP client (Apple's "Messages" app) with Randy Resnick who received the message in a Google+ Hangout. I opened up a Google+ window in my browser and I could see the exchange happening there as well. Here's a side-by-side shot of the exchange in both clients:

Googleplusxmppinterop 450

So what is going on here?

Reports Of Google Removing XMPP

This issue has been widely reported in many of the tech blogs and sites. Matt Landis covered this issue very well in his post: Hangouts Won’t Hangout With Other Messaging Vendors: Google’s New Unified Messaging Drops Open XMPP/Jabber Interop which then generated long threads on Reddit and Slashdot.

The Verge in their lengthy story about Google+ Hangoutscontains this statement from Google's Nikhyl Singhal:

Talk, for example, was built to help enterprise users communicate better, Singhal says. "The notion of creating something that’s social and that’s always available wasn’t the same charter as we set out with when we created Talk." With Hangouts, Singhal says Google had to make the difficult decision to drop the very "open" XMPP standard that it helped pioneer.

The "Google Talk for Developers" pagealso very clearly states this:

Note: We announced a new communications product, Hangouts, in May 2013. Hangouts will replace Google Talk and does not support XMPP.

A Google+ post by Nikhyl Singhal has generated a large amount of comments (not solely about XMPP) and a post from Google's Ben Eidelson about how Google Messenger will be changed by Hangouts has also received many comments.

There was also a Hacker News thread about the news out of Google AppEngine that apps hosted there would not be able to communicate users of the new Hangouts app via XMPP - and providing a couple of workarounds.

A couple of Google+ threads from Matt Mastracci and Jan Wildeboer are also worth reading as is this note from Daniel Pentecost about how he has lost interop with his clients / customers.

But Is XMPP Support Still There?

I was a bit puzzled, though, by a couple of comments from Google's Ben Eidelson down in one of the G+ threads:


Ben Eidelson
+Thomas Heinen Thanks for your report of the issue. Hangouts supports basic interop with XMPP, so you can-for the time being-continue to use 3rd party clients. It does not work the same way as Talk, and so I believe the issue you're having with the XMPP bridge will not resolve in Hangouts.
Jason Summerfield
+Ben Eidelson So there is still some basic XMPP functionality under the hood? Does this mean that Hangouts will still be able to communicate with federated Jabber servers/clients, at least for now?

Ben Eidelson
+Jason Summerfield Not federated support, but supports interop with XMPP clients. Meaning you can continue to use XMPP clients to log in to Google Talk and those messages will interop with folks on Hangouts.


It was this that prompted me to call up Messages on my Mac, where I am logged in via XMPP to my GMail account, and to initiate a chat with Randy as shown above. We found we could chat perfectly fine. We couldn't initiate a callinto a Google+ Hangout from an external XMPP client - although I'll be honest and say I don't know how well that worked in the past. My own usage of external clients has entirely been for chat.

So What Is The Story?

I don't know. The statement quoted in The Verge's story seems pretty definitive that XMPP has been dropped, as does the message sent to AppEngine developers. It does seem so far that:

  • "Server-to-server" XMPP, used for federation with other servers / services, has been dropped.
  • "Presence" and status messages have been dropped (because the idea seems to be with Hangouts that you just send a message and people will get it either right then or whenever they are next online).
  • Within the Hangouts app, you can only connect to people with Google+ accounts, i.e. contacts on external XMPP servers no longer appear.
  • Google hasn't made any clear statements on what exactly is going on.

But is this partial XMPP support only temporary? Will it go away at some point whenever Hangouts fully "replaces" GoogleTalk? Or is this a communication mixup? (As happened recently with Google's announcement of DNSSEC support for their Public DNS Service?)

For me the disappointment in all of this is mostly that Google has been one of the largest advocates for the open XMPP protocol and I enjoyed the fact that I could use multiple different chat clients to interact with my GoogleTalk account. I was also very intrigued by the federation that we were starting to see between GTalk and other systems out there via XMPP.

Whereas before Google+ seemed to be an interesting social/messaging backbone to which I could connect many different apps and systems, now Google+ is looking like simply yet another proprietary walled garden - and we don't need more of those!

Hopefully we'll hear something more out of Google soon.

P.S. Here's another interesting viewpoint: Google Hangouts and XMPP – is cloud harming the Internet?


UPDATE: In a comment over on Google+, Daniel Pentecost states that Randy and I were not actually using Hangouts:

Dan, you weren't actually chatting through Hangouts. You were chatting through Google Talk which itself has a bridge into Hangouts. It only works b/c Randy is a Gmail user and still has access to Google Talk in Gmail.

Perhaps that is the case, which again then begs the question of whether this is only a temporary capability until GoogleTalk is shut down.


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You Can Now Call Into Google+ From Regular Phones - Google Connects Google Voice To Hangouts

Want to hear the sound of Google further disrupting the world of telecom? If you have a Google Voice number and also use Google+ (as I do) with the Hangouts feature enabled, you'll soon be hearing this new sound if you haven't already.

UPDATE: I have written a follow-up post responding to several comments and expanding on several points.

An Unexpected Ringing

Yesterday a random PR person called the phone number in the sidebar of this blog to pitch me on why I should write about her client. This phone number is through Google Voice and I knew by the fact that my cell phone and Skype both started ringing simultaneously that someone was calling that number.

But as I was deciding whether or not to actually answer the call, I realized that there was another "ringing" sound coming from my computer that I had not heard before. Flipping quickly through my browser windows I found my Google+ window where this box appeared at the top of the "Hangouts" sidebar on the right:

Googleplus incoming call

Now, of course, I HAD to answer the call, even though I knew from experience that most calls to that number are PR pitches. I clicked the "Answer" button and in a moment a regular "Hangout" window appeared, complete with my own video, and with an audio connection to the phone call.

Hangouts phonecall

The PR person and I then had a pleasant conversation where I rather predictably determined quickly that she'd probably never actually readthis blog or she would have known that I've never written about her client's type of software. Be that as it may, the audio quality of the call was great and the call went on without any issues.

A subsequent test showed me that I also had access to the dialpad had I needed to send any button presses (for instance, in interacting with an IVR or robocall):

Hangout keypad

The only real "issue" with the phone call was that when I pressed the "Hang up" button I wound up still being in the Hangouts window with this message displayed:

Google+ Hangouts

The irony of course is that that phone number was never in the "video call"... at least via video. Regardless, I was now alone in the video call with my camera still running. I needed to press the "Exit" button in the upper right corner of the Hangouts window. Outside of that, the user experience for the phone call was fine.

The Future Of Google Voice?

Like many people interested in what Google is doing with Google+, I had read the announcement from Google of the new streams and Hangouts features last week and had gone ahead and installed the iOS Hangouts app onto my iPhone to try it out (marking Google's entrance into the OTT VoIP space). But nowhere in there had I seen that this connection was going to happen between Google Voice and Hangouts. I'd seen speculation in various media sites, but nothing direct.

So it was a bit of a surprise when it happened... particularly because I'd done nothing to enable it. Google had simply connected my Google Voice number to my Google+ account.

I admit that it is a pleasant surprise... although I do wish for the sake of my laptop's CPU that I could somehow configure it to NOT launch myvideo when I get an audio-only call. Yes, I can just go stop my video, but that's an annoying extra step.

It seems, though, that another feature removed from Hangouts, at least temporarily, was the ability to make outbound phone calls. Given that all signs of Google Voice were removed from Google's interface and replaced by "Hangouts", this has predictably upset people who used the service, particularly those who paid for credits to make outgoing calls. There does seem to be a way to restore the old Chat interfacefor those who want to make outgoing calls so that is at least a temporary workaround.

Google's Nikhyl Singhal posted to Google+ about the new Hangouts featuresstating these two points:

1) Today's version of Hangouts doesn't yet support outbound calls on the web and in the Chrome extension, but we do support inbound calls to your Google Voice number. We're working hard on supporting both, and outbound/inbound calls will soon be available. In the meantime, you can continue using Google Talk in Gmail.

2) Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice, and making/receiving phone calls is just the beginning. Future versions of Hangouts will integrate Google Voice more seamlessly.

I'm sure that won't satisfy those who are troubled by the change, but it will be interesting to see where they go with Hangouts and voice communication.

(Note: the comment thread on Nikhyl Singhal's Google+ post makes for very interesting reading as people are sounding off there about what they'd like to see in a Hangouts / Google Voice merger.)

Will Hangouts Do SIP?

Of course, my big question will be... will Hangouts let us truly move beyond the traditional telephony of the PSTN and into the world of IP-based communications where can connect directly over the Internet? Google Voice once briefly let us receive VoIP calls using the SIP protocol - can Hangouts finally deliver on this capability? (And let us make outbound SIP calls as well?)

What do you think? Do you like this new linkage of Google Voice PSTN numbers to your Google+ account?


UPDATE #1 - I have written a follow-up post about XMPP support in Hangouts and confusion over what level of XMPP/Jabber support is still in Google+ Hangouts.


Audio commentary related to this post can be found in TDYR episode #009 on SoundCloud:


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Join the Google+ "IP Communications & VoIP" Community

Googleplus ipcomms voipWant to connect with others interested in the bleeding edge of IP communications and VoIP? Want to exchange links or engage in discussions with people interested in these topics? If you are a Google+ user (as I am), there is now the new "Communities" feature and Randy Resnick of VUC fame has set up a new Google+ community on "IP Communications & VoIP" at:
https://plus.google.com/communities/114149566116254233716

Given that Randy is very active on Google+, this community is also very active, both through Randy's posts as well as the comments and posts of others. I've already learned a good bit from a couple of the discussions that have occurred there.

There are other Google+ communities that you might find interesting, too, such as those related to DNSSEC and IPv6, but Randy's is a great one for VoIP / IP communications / UC topics. Check it out and join in the conversations....

Plus, if you haven't checked out the VUC calls that occur each Friday at noon US Eastern, they, too, are definitely worth listening to and participating in.


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The Fascinating Interest in Using Google Voice With SIP Addresses

Why are so many people interested in using Google Voice with SIP? Is this a sign that people really want to use SIP-based services for VoIP? Is this all hobbyists or people looking to play around with Google Voice? Or is it people trying to solve real interconnection issues? What are people trying to do with Google Voice and SIP?

All these questions came to my mind today when I dipped into Google Analytics and noticed that for the month to date in November 2012, my old (March 2011) post about Google Voice and SIP addresses continues to receive a large amount of traffic:

Ga googlevoiceandsip

Slightly over 3,000 pageviews in the first 13 days of November - and if I go back a bit I see over 71,000 pageviews since January 1, 2012. In fact, it's had about 232K pageviews since I wrote it over 1.5 years ago, and has accounted for almost 25% of all traffic to this site in that time.

And this particular article was just one in a series of articles I wound up writing about Google Voice and SIP as we all collectively tried to figure out what was going on.

Digging into the traffic sources to the page, almost all of it this month comes (somewhat predictably) from search. The search terms, at least the ones we can see (since Google now shows "Not Provided" for all searches done over SSL), show a range of interest in SIP:

Ga googlevoiceandsip search

And all of this for a service from Google Voice which seemed to be a temporary service and subsequently stopped working... kinda, sorta... and then did work... and then didn't work. (And I just checked... and it doesn't work for me right now.)

I find all this interest fascinating. I hope it's a good sign that people out there do want to see more usage of SIP addresses.

And I do hope that at some point Google will open up the connection again and let us connect in to Google Voice numbers using SIP URIs. It would be a great move.

Meanwhile, I'll continue to be fascinating by all the traffic still coming to those old articles...


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3 Great Posts to Read About Why Windows Phone 7 Hasn't Taken Off...

Windows Phone 7

Jumping online this morning I noticed this trio of great posts yesterday about Windows Phone 7 and why it hasn't taken off. The discussion was started off by Charlie Kindel, a former Microsoft general manager:

MG Siegler weighed in on his blog with:

And Robert Scoble posted a comment on Charlie's post that led then to his own post:

The comments on both Charlie Kindel's and Robert Scoble's posts are also worth reading. There were other articles on this theme, but these were the three I found most useful.

As to my own opinion, I'm definitely in Scoble's camp (to which Siegler also agrees):

It's ALL about the apps!

The device formerly known as a "mobile phone" is now a device to access all sorts of services, information, games, Internet sites and to send messages to people... and, oh yeah, it can make phone calls sometimes if you really want it to.

It's all about the apps... and until Microsoft is able to truly foster a strong application developer ecosystem it will remain, like RIM, a minor player in the mobile market.

Image credit: microsoftsweden on Flickr


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Google+ Turns Hangouts Into a Free Conference Calling Service With Free Voice Calls in US and Canada

Fascinating move by Google today... Google+ now allows you to add voice-only phone calls into a "Hangout", allowing you to create conference calls of both video and voice participants. Announced by Googler Jarkko Oikarinen, it is available inside of "Hangout with extras" and allows voice calls out to US and Canadian numbers for free.

When I launched a Hangout (with extras) and then chose the link to invite others, I was presented with an extremely simple screen to add a voice call:

Googleplusinviteothers

Once the participant had joined, they showed up in the hangout screen above the video participants (only me in this trial case):

Google Plus Hangout With Voice

No word that I've seen yet on a maximum number of people that can be conferenced into a Google+ Hangout, but I'm sure someone will try that out shortly and we'll have an answer.

UPDATE: Jarkko Oikarinen has clarified in a comment to his post that "each hangout participant can have at most two simultaneous PSTN calls ongoing." From that wording I'm guessing that I could call out to 2 people on the PSTN, and another participant could call out to two more, and so on...

Calls are limited to the US and Canada, although TechCrunch is reporting that Google recommends Google Voice for low rates on international calls.

Now, mixing voice and video calls together is not something dramatically new. Skype has done this for quite some time now within their Group Video Calling service. Still, it's a cool step forward for Google+ and may provide an way to get more people using the Hangouts service.

At the very least, it may provide a way for some of the folks using Hangouts as a way of hosting regular video podcasts to include guests or callers who are not able to establish a video connection or use Hangouts directly. I'm thinking particularly of people who may be mobile or in places with low bandwidth. Or just simply a guest who doesn't want to use video or isn't a user of Google+.

Free conference calls?

I suspect some folks may certainly use this as a way to create free conference calls. As I proved in my own testing, only the originator of the Hangout needs to use the Hangouts feature of Google+. He or she can then simply call everyone else and bring them into the conference call.

However, given that

  1. you can't yet choose from a list of contacts and have to instead enter each phone number individually; and

  2. people can't call in to the hangout; and

  3. per the update above, each participant can only conference in 2 PSTN callers.

I don't expect people to instantly stop using the zillion conference calling services out there. However, it certainly shows a sign of Google's direction and given the rate of change within Google+ I wouldn't be surprised to see enhancements to, for instance, at least store phone numbers coming at some point soon.

It would be very cool if there was a way to start a Hangout with a Circle... and have Google+ automagically connect out everyone in the circle via either video or phone... but who knows, that may come, too!

P.S. And if you are on Google+, why not add me to a circle if you haven't already done so?


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Oops... Posted to the Wrong Site... See the Correct Link here

Oops... this post about Google Wave is really over at Disruptive Conversations: http://www.disruptiveconversations.com/2011/11/and-so-google-finally-announces-the-formal-death-of-google-wave-in-2012.html (Keeping this post up because it already went out in social networks...)