Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lifehacker: Google+ Hangouts Is the Best Free Group Video Chat We've Seen

From Lifehacker: Google+ Hangouts Is the Best Free Group Video Chat We've Seen
Team Lifehacker has been playing around with Google+ all morning, and so far the coolest innovation we've seen—particularly from a productivity standpoint—is the Hangouts feature, which creates rooms for you to hang out with your friends, coworkers, or any of your social circles. It's great.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Announcing Google+ Hangouts

What we've been working on recently :-) From the Google Blog:
+Hangouts: stop by and say hello, face-to-face-to-face
Whether it's inside a pub or on a front porch, human beings have always enjoyed hanging out. And why not? It's how we unwind, recharge, and spend unscheduled time with old and new friends alike. Hanging out is deceptively simple though, and the nuance gets lost online.
Just think: when you walk into the pub or step onto your front porch, you're in fact signaling to everyone around, “Hey, I've got some time, so feel free to stop by." Further, it’s this unspoken understanding that puts people at ease, and encourages conversation. But today’s online communication tools (like instant messaging and video-calling) don’t understand this subtlety:
  • They’re annoying, for starters. You can ping everyone that’s “available,” but you’re bound to interrupt someone’s plans.
  • They’re also really awkward. When someone doesn't respond, you don't know if they’re just not there, or just not interested.
With Google+ we wanted to make on-screen gatherings fun, fluid and serendipitous, so we created Hangouts. By combining the casual meetup with live multi-person video, Hangouts lets you stop by when you're free, and spend time with your Circles. Face-to-face-to-face:
To support Hangouts, we built an all-new standards-based cloud video conferencing platform. This platform combines high quality, low latency, and strong security with the ease of use of a web application. Through the efficiency of this new platform, we're able to deliver a leading video conferencing experience at Google scale.

A few noteworthy technical points:
  • Fully browser-based/cloud-based
  • Client-server: leverages the power of Google's infrastructure
  • Designed for low latency (< 100 ms) and high performance (multicore + hardware acceleration)
  • Standards-based: XMPP, Jingle, RTP, ICE, STUN, SRTP
  • Fully encrypted (HTTPS + SRTP)

Google voice and video v2.1.7

Today, we released the 2.1.7 (and 2.1.8 for Windows) update for the Google voice and video chat software. All current installations will automatically update within the next few days. If you do not want to wait, you can visit and re-run the installer.

You can use your Gmail account to find out what version is currently installed. Simply go to the Gmail Settings page and look under the "Chat" tab. You will see the plugin version under the "Learn more" link, in small type.

Here's what's new in the latest version:
  • Several installer improvements; installation no longer requires a browser restart
  • Improved smoothness of video rendering
  • Added support to monitor and reduce CPU utilization when system is under extremely high load
  • Fixed issue where playout volume was too low on various machines
  • Fixed issue with incorrect audio ducking behavior on Vista/Win7
  • Fixed issue with delayed audio if connectivity was briefly interrupted
  • Fixed issue with delayed video on Mac when under high CPU load
  • Fixed issue where encryption/decryption could fail on sequence number rollover
  • Fixed random flash effect when entering fullscreen in some browsers
  • Fixed many crashes
If you're on 2.1.7 and still having a problem, please take a look at the Google Chat Help Center, or report the issue on the Google Voice and Video Help Forum. You can also email me using the "Email Justin" link above.

Google Talk now supports XMPP Jingle

As reported by the Register last week, we've just finished updating Google Talk and its related services to speak XMPP's Jingle call signaling protocol. A lot of stuff had to change here - many different code bases, clients, servers, and reporting systems - but the migration is now complete.

From our announcement to the Jingle mailing list:

We are pleased to announce that we have launched support for Jingle
XEP-166 and XEP-167 for Google Talk calls to and from Gmail, iGoogle,
and Orkut. We have also added the same level of support to libjingle
(, which is used by many native
clients. From this point on, it will be our primary signalling
protocol, and the old protocol will only remain for backwards
If you're interested in interoperating with the Google Talk service, you can now refer to the public XEP-0166 and XEP-0167 documentation for implementing call signaling.

If you're interested in the differences between the old and new protocols, you can also see the old "Gingle" protocol documentation on our developer site.