No Google Voice desktop app? No worries, it'll be coming to your browser soon enough
Just when the public was starting to get excited about this amazing new desktop VOIP app, it now appears as though it may never see the light of day. As it turns out, the software likely won't ever be released to the public -- due in no small part to Google's feeling that "legacy desktop apps" have run their course and the Web is the platform of the future.
No problem! Google should be able to deliver a pretty sweet browser-based Voice app, right? Not so fast, says Arrington. According to TechCrunch sources, HTML5 isn't ready for that kind of heavy lifting. One big factor working against it is shoddy microphone support in the still-evolving spec. If you're expecting an in-browser VOIP app, you're not going to see it any time soon... Or are you?
Even if HTML5 isn't ready to shoulder the load, Google has plenty of other tricks up its sleeve which it can leverage right now if they really want to deliver a browser-based Google Voice app which reproduces the awesome desktop app we never saw. The other day word leaked out that Google was beginning to test Google Voice inside Gmail -- which certainly seems to indicate that they want to go the webapp route.
So how could Google make this happen right now? Because --remember -- Mike doesn't want to wait until HTML5 is ready for duty.
For starters, there's Flash. Love it or hate it, Flash is still a useful tool and one thing it's got tucked away in its bag'o'tricks is good microphone and webcam support. On top of that, Flash was recently integrated into Chrome's core as an internal plug-in. And it's still handling video duties over at YouTube until HTML5 is ready to go there, too.
There's also the presence of libjingle in the Chromium source code. Libjingle is a peer to peer interoperability library which is utilized by both Google Talk and Google Voice. According to the FAQ on the project's Google Code page, there's a newpublic version of the lib on the way (they've been continually updating an internal version) . Among the things you could build with libjingle? Google lists:
- A multi-user voice chat application
- A multi-user video conferencing application
- A multi-user live music streaming application
- A peer-to-peer file sharing application
... all of which would be right at home inside a browser-based VOIP communications app.
Last, Chrome also has Native Client. Google developers have been quietly working away at porting a number of Linux libraries to NaCl several of which are related to audio and video. While I don't have confirmation from anyone inside Google, I've got to think that a browser which is now capable of playing Quake (which was ported and demoed on Chrome earlier this year) should also be able to handle VOIP communications.
Armed with these weapons, there's every reason to think that Google has the software artillery it needs to pull off an amazing Gizmo5/Google Voice app for the browser. When will we see this? Sooner than Arrington expects, I believe. Chrome OS is late coming this fall, and this baby would certainly be a killer app to debut with all those shiny new devices...