Posts categorized "Google"

Did Amazon Just Fork The Android Operating System?

Did Amazon just fork the Android operating system with their Kindle Fire? That's the question asked at Mashable today in a post "Amazon Kindle Fire Just Hijacked Android where it was noted that all the promotion around the Kindle Fire did not mention Android. The key piece to me is this:

Amazon is not the first company to use Android for its devices, only to customize the UI and add its own App Store...

Still, Amazon’s customization of Android goes above and beyond re-theming the interface. Amazon has created its own apps for email, video playback (using Amazon Instant Video), music and books...

Amazon is using Android 2.3 as its base, not the tablet-specific Honeycomb, and we expect that the company has taken the opportunity to optimize 2.3 specifically for the Kindle Fire’s hardware.

Likewise, instead of applying tweaks to the basic Android web browser, Amazon chose to build its own: Amazon Silk...

The tragedy here is that the Amazon Kindle Fire will undoubtedly be a very popular device. At $199, I can see many people picking these devices up.

And it could be a great opportunity to bolster the Android ecosystem.

To encourage and nurture a further competitive marketplace for apps.

But the challenge is stated well in the Mashable piece:

We expect Amazon to start courting Android developers to make customized Kindle Fire-specific versions of their apps.

It's not an Android device... it's an Amazon device. And though it may use Android as a base, it has a highly customized layer on top.

Do we now have effectively yet another application ecosystem?

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Google Chrome Rolls Out Web Audio API Support: Audio Processing in JavaScript

GooglechromeblogFascinating news out of the Google Chrome team yesterday: the latest developer build of Google Chrome now supports audio signal processing directly in JavaScript!

To say that more simply… right now to do good audio communication on the web, you have to use plugins built in Flash, QuickTime or Java. This Web Audio API aims to let you do much of that audio control via JavaScript and HTML5. From the specification intro:

Audio on the web has been fairly primitive up to this point and until very recently has had to be delivered through plugins such as Flash and QuickTime. The introduction of the audio element in HTML5 is very important, allowing for basic streaming audio playback. But, it is not powerful enough to handle more complex audio applications. For sophisticated web-based games or interactive applications, another solution is required. It is a goal of this specification to include the capabilities found in modern game audio engines as well as some of the mixing, processing, and filtering tasks that are found in modern desktop audio production applications.

The Web Audio API specification, which is a proposal for a standard being discussed in the W3C's Audio Working Group includes a set of example applications, including multi-player games like Quake, musical examples and more.

If you want to live on the edge with the "Beta Channel" of Google Chrome builds (I do), you can even go over to Google's page of Web Audio examples to try it out yourself.

It's great to see this support in Google Chrome as it can help us continue the move away from proprietary browser plugins to more standards-based solutions - and through that to a more open Internet. Kudos to the Google team for rolling out the support - I'm looking forward to seeing what people build with it!

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Google's "Calling From Gmail" Aims to Disrupt International Calling - 38 countries, 4 currencies

Fascinating move by Google... they've now expanded "Calling from Gmail" to 38 countries, opened up payment into 4 currencies (US Dollars, Canadian Dollars, Euros or British Pounds), and lowered their calling rates to over 150 "destinations" around the world. If you aren't familiar with "Calling from GMail", it's the green phone icon you may have inside your Gmail inbox:


I'm showing the phone "popped out" of the browser window, but normally it just appears inside your browser window and lets you search your contacts or dial new numbers.

Personally, I find that most of my international calling (and actually most of my calling, period) is done via Skype... but for those who want to reach people internationally on regular mobile phones (or (GASP!) landlines) this could offer another cheap option.

Similarly, if you live in Google products (something more people are exploring now that Google+ is here), this provides a great way to stay within Google-land and make your phone calls. While I am a Gmail user, I read all my email offline so I never use the web interface... so I don't see me using this, but many will, I'm sure.

Sadly, there seems to be no way to call SIP addresses, so for those of us who want to break the shackles of all the legacy PSTN limitations and, for instance, have calls in rich wideband/HD audio, "calling from Gmail" still won't cut it.

Google provides a simple rate chart (click "show all rates" to see the full list) and says in their blog post:

For example, it’s now only $0.10 (or €0.08) per minute to call mobile phones in the U.K., France or Germany (landlines are $0.02/min), $0.15/minute to call mobile phones in Mexico and $0.02/min to call any phone number in China and India.

They also note:

Calls to the U.S. or Canada placed within those countries will continue to be free at least for the rest of 2011. Calls to the U.S. or Canada placed from outside these countries will be charged $0.01 per minute (or €0.01, £0.01, C$0.01 per minute).

Google being Google they also provide a nice happy video:

All in all it looks like an interesting offering for people who live in the Google web interface. And it all continues to add pressure to that international dialing market...

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Google TechTalk: A Brief Prehistory of Voice over IP

Want to understand the history of Voice over IP (VoIP)? To learn about the various protocols and standards efforts that got us to where we are today?

Shawn Merdinger recently posted to the VOIPSEC mailing list the link to this Google Tech Talk back in August 2010 about the history of VoIP. The video runs close to 2 hours but provides a really good background in terms of the protocols and efforts starting with ARPA work back in the 1970's and moving up to today... well worth a viewing if you want to gain some historical context for where we are today.

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Summary: Links to Posts on Calling Google Voice using SIP

GooglevoiceGiven that I'll be the guest on today's VUC call in about an hour discussing this topic, here's a list of some of the posts involved in the recent saga around Google Voice and SIP.

On Saturday, March 5, 2011, Todd Vierling pointed out that you could call Google Voice Numbers via a SIP URI:

Unaware of Todd's post, but seeing mention of this SIP calling in tweets from Aswath Rao and Alok Saboo, I started what became a series of posts on Monday, March 7:

wherein the service was working... then it wasn't... then it was... etc.

At this precise moment in time, the service IS working for me, although when I just tried it took quite some time for my SIP softphone to actually start getting a ring. But the connection did work.

Also of interest, Todd Vierling put up a great post earlier on March 4 about what we really want/need for two-way Google Voice-to-SIP interconnect and what we are losing with the end of Gizmo:

I love how Todd links to the many open tickets in Google support asking for SIP support.

Additionally, Alok Saboo put up two posts with tutorials about how to configure both a Blink client and a Yate client to call into Google Voice via SIP.

The saga will of course continue... there's obviously interest... and Google's been silent on the whole matter so at the end of the day we really don't know what their plans may or may not be.

UPDATE - Nov 13, 2012: The interest in Google Voice and SIP addresses seems to continue, as I noted in a post about the large number of visits still coming to the site for this series of articles.

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Join Today's VUC Call at Noon US Eastern To Talk About Google Voice and SIP

VucWant to join a discussion about the whole issue with Google Voice and SIP? And what we might want to really have in terms of SIP interconnect with Google Voice? And, while we're there, want to talk about the latest changes in the mobile carrier space?

If so, join the VUC conf call happening in 90 minutes at 12 noon US Eastern. Randy, the host of VUC, asked me if I would come on as the guest and I did agree. Of course, that was before I was hit with a brutal cold this week... but I'm getting better to the point where I should be able to talk fine (if a bit funny-sounding) on the call.

You can join the live call via SIP, Skype or the regular old PSTN. There is also an IRC backchannel that gets heavy usage during the call. It will be recorded so you can always listen later.

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Google Voice Via SIP - Not Dead Yet... (The Saga Continues)

GooglevoiceSo maybe calling into Google Voice via SIP isn't as dead as I thought it was... multiple people have now left comments to my original posts indicating that they could call into their Google Voice number via SIP. And sure enough... I can do so now, too.

Yet to be seen, of course, is how long this actually continues to work this time. Will it be an actual ongoing service? Or is this just another burst of connectivity that will fade again?

We'll see, eh?

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Google Voice Via SIP - It's Dead, Jim

GooglevoiceSo there it is... connecting to a Google Voice number via a SIP address no longer works for me, too. After I wrote on Monday about how you could connect to Google Voice numbers via a SIP URI, many folks said that the service wasn't working for them... or did work and then stopped. So many folks were reporting issues on Twitter or blogs that I asked yesterday if Google was hanging up on SIP connections to GV numbers.

Through it all, though, my ability to call Google Voice numbers via SIP kept working perfectly fine, while it stopped working (or never worked) for pretty much everyone else who had tried it. (except for one other person who saved my sanity!) Several people on Twitter thought I must have some kind of "magic"... but all I knew was that it kept on working.

Until this morning.

It's dead now.

Using SJphone to call the exact same number that has worked fine for the past two days now only gets me a constant ringing.

So whatever "magic" I may have had is gone... gone, gone, gone...

Let's hope that Google will in fact bring back this capability... and maybe even go on to provide the other side of SIP interoperability that Todd Vierling wrote about (and others have agitated around for some time). The key point being to let us point our Google Voice numbers to SIP endpoints in addition to regular PSTN phone numbers.

It was great, Google, to get a taste of SIP interconnection to Google Voice... if only for a few days. Can you please bring it back? And even make it better?

We're out here waiting...

P.S. For those not understanding the "It's Dead, Jim" reference in the title, it goes back to the original Star Trek.

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Did Google Hang Up On Calling Google Voice Via SIP?

GooglevoiceHas Google killed the ability to call a Google Voice number via SIP that we just learned about in the past few days? My post yesterday seems to have resonated with many folks who rushed to try it... only to find that it didn't work!

Or perhaps did work for a bit and then stopped working. Even Todd Vierling, the person who first wrote about this back on Saturday, now updated his post with this text:

[Update March 8: It seems this service is no longer working, starting yesterday evening. sigh. I was hoping to see the security bugs patched up, not for the service to be pulled down again like it was in early 2009. Please, Google Voice people, throw us a bone here and let us know what's really going on for once!]

The folks over at OnSIP published a blog post saying that was now silent and also engaged with a whole number of us on Twitter on the topic. Ward Mundy over at NerdVittles initially came out with a post detailing how to make this work with FreePBX and then updated that post to indicate that it is no longer working.

Comments to my original post indicated some folks were having problems... and I've seen more similar comments in Twitter.

Here's the thing...


Using the bare bones SJphone softphone on my iMac, I can still call into my own GV number over SIP without any problem. I can also call other people's GV numbers over SIP, too. I spoke for about 15 minutes with a friend of mine calling from my SJphone over to his GV number and reaching him on his mobile.

So it continues to work for me... but not for others. If you are on Twitter, could you perhaps let me know if you are able to call into a GV number via SIP? (Or leave a comment here to this blog post.) Perhaps if we can identify a few more folks who can call into GV via SIP we might be able to understand what's going on.

Of course, what would be best would be if Google would give us a clue about this service! Is this something experimental that people weren't/aren't supposed to know about? Is it something to be released that got out a bit too early? It's pretty obviously not production-ready...

Anyway, if you can call into GV via SIP, please do let those of us digging into it know. Would love to know the softphone you are using and perhaps the ISP you are connected to. Thanks!

P.S. My internet connection comes from Time Warner cable.

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Google Voice Now Offers SIP Addresses For Calling Directly Over IP

Wouldn't it be great if you could call a Google Voice number directly via SIP? So that you could bypass the PSTN when calling a GV number and go directly over IP? With potentially all the advanced capabilities that could give? (wideband audio, video, etc.) It turns out that you now can!
UPDATE - Nov 13, 2012: Over a series of subsequent posts about Google Voice and SIP, it first seemed like this service was working... then it stopped... then it started... and then it stopped for some people and still worked for others. As of November 2012 the service is not working for me.

By way of a tweet from Aswath Rao (crediting @truvoip) today I learned that you could simply take your Google Voice number and append "" to get a perfectly working SIP URI that you could use with any SIP phone. I naturally tried it out with my own GV number using the SJphone SIP phone:


The call worked great. I answered it on one of my other phones and the conversation was fine - both audio streams intact, etc.


What's interesting to me here is that SJphone reports that the remote client is YATE, a.k.a. Yet Another Telephony Engine. Yate has been around for a while (the voip-info wiki has some history) but hasn't been as widely known as, say, Asterisk or FreeSwitch. I subsequently made several calls using the Blink softphone on my Mac and again could see in the SIP traces that YATE was receiving the call on the Google end.

Looking over at the Yate News page, I see this note with regard to the January 31, 2011, release 3.1 of Yate:

Yate client calls can use Google Voice service.

The Yate client is a soft client for both voice and IM and in looking at their tutorial on using the client with Google Voice it would appear that this is about using XMPP (Jabber) to connect from the client over to Google Voice (I'm guessing it is using Jingle, which has been supported for some time by Google Talk (which is different from Google Voice)).

So the Yate client support is really something different... but the key point here is that Google appears to have chosen Yate to use on the receiving end of SIP calls into a Google Voice number.


For some of us who have had Google Voice numbers for quite some time (mine dates back to the pre-Google-acquisition GrandCentral days), it's always been a bit frustrating that the only way to call a GV number was through the good old PSTN. Particularly because the PSTN is so... well... limiting. When I've been building apps in Tropo or Voxeo's Evolution platform, I've wanted to route them to my GV number... and I have to do this via the PSTN side. No big deal on one level, but it's just inefficient. If the call is already all on the IP side, why not just keep it all IP!

As we're off building the future of communications over IP, I've wanted to include Google Voice into that mix.

Now we can!

At least... unofficially. Perhaps at some point Google will come out and formally promote this capability.

Once a GV account has a SIP address, we then have to wonder what else we will be able to do with it. Could I, for instance, use wideband audio to my GV number?

For that to work, of course, I'd need to be able to register a SIP device with my GV number, which I can't do... and is the other side of the frustration with Google Voice. (Or at least be able to give GV a SIP URI as one of the addresses to call when a call comes in.) But conceivably once that happens I would be able to receive wideband audio calls. Ditto making video calls...

The first step is getting a SIP address that is workable... we now seem to have that.

Kudos to Google to making this inbound SIP connectivity available... and I look forward to seeing what else they will do with regard to SIP.

UPDATE #1: No sooner had I published this post when I learned of Todd Vierling's post over the weekend, "So, Google Voice: SIP is actually coming? ( some form)", which may in fact be where Aswath and Alok learned of this news.

Todd also points out a serious security issue (the guessability of 4-digit PINs) and points out another post of his raising excellent SIP interoperability questions.

Thanks, Todd, for finding that this functionality works and for writing about it!

UPDATE #2: Alok Saboo (@truvoip) also posted about Google Voice SIP addresses yesterday, providing a tutorial for how to call those SIP addresses for free using the Blink softphone.

UPDATE #3 - 3/8/2011: I've now seen multiple reports (like this one and several in the comments to this post) that these SIP addresses may not be working for all addresses. As of this morning at 8:30am US Eastern time, I am having no problem calling my own Google Voice number via SIP using SJphone as shown in this article. However, others seem to be having problems.

UPDATE #4 - 3/8/2011: Given that reports continue that people are unable to access Google Voice via SIP, I wrote a follow-on post linking to some of the reports: Did Google Hang Up On Calling Google Voice Via SIP?

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