Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Google open sourcing voice and video engine for the web (sites.google.com)
228 points by gaika on June 1, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 43 comments

Is this Google's response to MS purchasing skype? Seems like the classic strategy of commoditizing your competitor's business (and they get a 2-for-1 deal since Apple is also wielding FaceTime).

Hm, I don't think so. This post is dated May 3rd, which predates the Skype deal's announcement by 7 days. Also, the WhatWG group for RTC's mailing list was first posted to April 12, 2011. So that potentially indicates this was in the works beforehand. Since Google purportedly put in a bid for Skype they no-doubt knew Skype was on the market, though.

I would guess this is more likely a response to FaceTime. Apple's core business is around getting people to buy iPhones, and FaceTime is exclusive to the iPhone and other Apple products.

There is an IETF realtime-web working group :


and this is part of Google's involvement with that.

However the original question is still valid, as this release might have been accelerated quite a bit because MS bought Skype.

We can also see the project's creation time on http://code.google.com/p/webrtc/updates/list, Jan 27 2011

great point. I think a major reason MS bought skype was integrate it with kinect, which somewhat mitigates this.

Apple, where is the Facetime open spec that you promised? Google may just beat them to the punch.

Apparently, the FaceTime team wasn't aware that it was to be made an open standard until Steve said it on stage: http://daringfireball.net/linked/2011/05/11/facetime-standar...

Just found the slide listing the "standards" FaceTime uses [1]: H.264, AAC, SIP, STUN, TURN, ICE, RTP and SRTP. From the list, the only thing left for someone else to integrate with FT would be friend management and presence (online status). Something like Jabber could probably handle this bit pretty well.

[1] http://ugc.kontain.com/photo/20100607/prod_519da669-212a-414...

I'm not sure if they intend to or not, but who knows - wwdc is coming up, and this may be perfect timing for them to strike back.

does Apple really intend to do this?

I remember the facetime announcement including that they were going to publish it as an open standard, and I'm not the only one:

  "The company said it plans to make FaceTime an open industry standard, potentially allowing 
  communication with other devices." 
  -- http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/10/06/07/apple_announces_open_standard_facetime_video_chat_for_iphone_4.html
and it's not just AppleInsider - that's just the first non-wikipedia hit for the search "facetime open standard". That said, they never (to my knowledge) delivered, which is a shame. At least now there's something, though it's a pity that FT users will likely be left out.


Actually, it was very clear. Jobs promised, in no uncertain words, that Apple will make Facetime an open standard. I remember that well, I was quite excited about that.

He lied and I'm quite surprised that virtually no one gave Apple the hard time they deserve for lying during a keynote speech.

To quote http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FaceTime: "Upon the launch of the iPhone 4, Jobs promised that Apple would work in due course with standards bodies to make the FaceTime protocol an "open standard." As of May 2011, it is not yet known to have been ratified by any standards body, and the extent of work by Apple with regards to this promise is unclear as Apple has not released technical specifications for the service. FaceTime is not currently supported on any non-Apple devices."

If I recall correctly, this was also back when Apple was tooting the "standards are the wave of the future" horn pretty loudly during their short war with Adobe.

Now that that is more or less over, Apple is back to not really caring about it because frankly, most people have forgotten already.

Likely not a lie, rather a broken promise.

I wouldn't be surprised if it was a patent problem...

Open standard and open source are different things.

Having both an open standard and a full stack implementation (BSD-licensed) is ages ahead of just publishing some details about the protocol.

This is misdirection.

Everyone else is on the same page in this conversation. Open standards are the focus here, and that's exactly what hasn't shown up wrt FaceTime.

I was just highlighting that Google went above and beyond here. They are actively participating in the IETF realtime web group and have actually released some code. They could have just released some API docs, and some header files and wait for others to build an implementation while they still use their proprietary code.

Something like this happened to AMF format and Adobe. They release some specs, and then people started to implement Flash servers, except the specs sucked and a lot of stuff had to be reverse engineered.

[Warning: PDF document]


Apologies. Given the comment you were replying to, I took it to be an attempt to parry the charge that no specs have been released by attempting to frame it as a call for an open source implementation (and therefore Apple would have not broken that promise, since that's not the promise they made).

Jobs promised, in no uncertain words

Which were what?

"Now FaceTime is based on a lot of open standards: H.264 video, AAC audio, and a bunch of alphabet soup acronyms. And we’re going to take it all away. We’re going to the standards bodies, starting tomorrow, and we’re going to make FaceTime an open industry standard." - Steve Jobs

Seriously, asking a question gets down voted? No. Asking a simple question seeking confirmation of something, is merely that, a question. It's spurs conversation. Downvotes are not for things you disagree with. They are for comments that detract from the quality of HN. The answers in response answered the question.

Seriously. There should be a way to flag down vote abuse.

Steve said they would be making it an open standard the day or the day after the announcement. We're here months later with nothing to show for it.

Does anyone have any ideas what the timeline for browser support is likely to be?

The website currently says they've been working closely with Mozilla and we expect to see WebRTC support in Firefox and Chrome soon!.

I wonder when Safari will get WebRTC support?

Isn't that about survival of the fittest? Why use a browser that don't support shit when there is a few that does. Might work for now, but not in the future.

vp8 support? once steve is gone.

Finally we know what's going with iLBC codec. For more than a year it's been in a limbo.

Yep, sorry about that. You can still use the old code under the old license, but you can also use it under the new (and more permissive and favorable) license.

Very nice, thank you Google.

Glancing over the API docs, I'm not clear what will be used for signaling. It appears to be based on XMPP/Jingle, am I right?

What about SIP?

From the FAQ: Builds on the strength of the web browser: WebRTC abstracts signaling by offering a signaling state machine that maps directly to PeerConnection. Web developers can therefore choose the protocol of choice for their usage scenario (for example, but not limited to: SIP, XMPP/Jingle, etc...).

How do iLBC and iSAC compare to the (also open source) Celt, Silk and Opus (Silk+Celt) codecs?

What does this mean to existing SIP/Jingle based systems? Are they now deprecated, or is there some kind of interoperability planned?

One way to decimate adversaries is to open-source your entire competitive advantage. Unfortunately that only works when you’re the market leader.

So nobody cares about open-sourcing WebRTC. Something that would be actually noticeable in this field right now would be Microsoft that open-sources Skype and gives everything away under the BSD license.

     So nobody cares about open-sourcing WebRTC
Except the people that would want to use it? Think of Chatroulette.

     Something that would be actually noticeable in this 
     field right now would be Microsoft that open-sources
Noticeable yes, but useful, not really.

What would be useful is for Skype to become a standard that allows interoperability with other services and protocols, such that you could build a client, like a website, that would allow users with a GTalk account to video-call Skype users. Now that would be something.

If Pidgin (the cross platform IM framework that Adium/others use) doesn't get this, I'll be sad/grumpy.

Not long until I'll be able to video chat on my Android via Google Talk, woo!

This is already possible on Gingerbread phones.

Actually the GTalk update that was released with 2.3.4 uses Neon-specific code rather than the actual video API that Google wrote themselves. It makes no sense and it's the reason that GTalk doesn't have video chat on other Gingerbread phones.

I didn't know Android doesn't have video chat with Google Talk yet. That seems strange, considering some Nokia phones have it built in: http://thehandheldblog.com/2010/02/02/gtalk-video-chat-is-po...

So is this another segment of HTML5 block or a completely novel idea?

It looks like a <device> element with streaming but they don't mention it at all.

Good work, Microsoft!

Embrace and extend.

Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact