Saraj Mudigonda, Business Development Manager for Imagination’s HelloSoft Video and Voice over IP solutions has recently been looking at how the rise of smartphones, the impact of high-resolution tablets and the rapid development of mobile operating systems like iOS or Android have determined more app designers to enter the mobile world. With 4G World coming up this week, we’ve asked him to give you a brief overview at what developers should consider when designing the next wave of video and voice applications.
Today we know them as a feature phones but ten years ago a vast majority of mobile phones were used just for voice calling and messaging. The gradual roll-out of Internet services, the development of more powerful hardware and the evolution of software platforms coupled with increased network coverage and improved communication standards started a new mobile revolution. This has now grown to include content sharing, social networking or video calling, concepts that were not thought possible for handheld devices a decade ago.
The evolution of mobile computing platforms
Smartphones and tablets now have the hardware resources and required specifications (scalable, fast processors, video encoder/decoders and advanced camera sensors, large screens, flexible APIs) to make them suitable for V.VoIP (Video and Voice over IP) applications. But are these video and voice clients just like any other application that you find in most mobile stores? To address this question we need to understand the initial purpose of mobile phones: enabling real-time communication for people on the go therefore both the device itself and the network operator are vital in maintaining the call link.
The evolution of mobile phones*
Consumers have the same high expectations with video calling, but as most operating systems enable multitasking, can they browse the Internet, run a HD game in the background and still expect real-time quality for voice and video calls? Thanks to HelloSoft’s V.VoIP and VoLTE innovative solutions, the answer is yes.
Before iOS and Android became the leading mobile operating systems, developers had few resources and tools for designing compelling applications. Most V.VoIP features were embedded into the proprietary firmware with third-party software relying on Java ME or BREW. Because the hardware system was designed to deliver a limited set of functionality, any optimization was done at the target platform level and the number of devices that supported voice and video calling over the Internet Protocol was very limited.
Soon enough, as Imagination had been anticipating, smartphones became computing powerhouses with multi-core processors and extra RAM and operating systems were able to run multiple applications at the same time, including real-time software for V.VoIP.
Development options for mobile apps
When looking at mobile stores across various platforms, applications can be split into two major families: native (this includes any embedded, pre-loaded and downloadable software) and Web-based. There are a number of advantages of relying on native apps, as more and more companies realize that HTML5 may not be suitable for their needs.
Embedded applications can be more deeply integrated in the overall experience which provides users with a familiar set of characteristics (for example a unified phone dialer for voice and video). Pre-loaded applications are bundled software packages used by most manufacturers as a way to differentiate and get consumers a quick head start into the whole OS experience when they turn on their device for the first time. Downloadable apps offer a much wider choice as price points, popularity and user feedback determine different options and features.
Native vs. HTML5 apps**
Real-time V.VoIP applications have specific requirements such as low audio and video latency and a guaranteed QoS (Quality of Service) metric that set them apart from the rest of the crop. Network delays and packet losses were a common thing in the wireless environment but with HelloSoft’s smart concealment algorithm, these issues can now be successfully mitigated.
Thanks to Imagination’s experience in low power design, applications using our HelloSoft V.VoIP solutions can be optimized for specific platforms and benefit from the various processing resources available which will save precious battery life. Our wide API and OS support enables HelloSoft solutions to run across multiple platforms and devices such as smartphones, tablets, and ultrabooks while offering the same consistent experience across all of them.
The main requirements for video and voice applications
Working with organizations like ITU, the Wi-Fi Alliance or the WiMAX Forum meant tighter network integration and a comprehensive list of supported standards that enabled the development of reliable switchover mechanisms when moving from cellular to wireline or changing between devices. An integrated native application does not drain battery quickly and provides low latency HD voice and video experience even in a lossy wireless environment. This can only be achieved by tightly integrating with the handset platform and operators network as is the case with embedded applications.
An overview of Imagination’s HelloSoft solutions
The developer community has now started to work more closely with operators and handset manufacturers to deliver performance optimized apps while operators have started deploying GSMA standards like 4G LTE which enable voice/video over LTE and rich communication services, including social presence, group chat, messaging, video/image and file sharing.
These standards also provide a low-latency dedicated pipe for real-time voice and video applications to meet the QoS requirements. This means the handset manufacturers are opening up platform APIs for tighter integration, enabling a single integrated experience which would hopefully lead to the development of a V.VoIP super-app.
In today’s competitive landscape, consumers value cost-effective communication. Imagination’s HelloSoft VoIP and VoLTE solutions bring complete carrier-grade voice and video calling to consumer and business users addressing the growing need for a feature-rich platform across all mobile, embedded and desktop markets. Included in all HelloSoft SDKs and WLCs are example applications and detailed API documentation to help our partners quickly integrate onto their target platform, including iOS, Android, Windows or any other major operating system.
* Image courtesy of Section Design blog, all rights reserved
** Image courtesy of developerforce, all rights reserved