Displaying items by tag: video calling

Saudi Arabia to lift block on internet video calling

Written on Sunday, 24 September 2017 12:15

Internet video calling services like WhatsApp, Skype and Viber, will be available to use in Saudi Arabia next week, after coordination between the Communications and Information Technology Commission and telecommunications service providers to allow applications that provide voice communications over the internet.

Communications and Information Technology Minister, H.E. Eng. Abdullah Alswaha, said the commitment had been confirmed by the cooperating parties to enable internet users in the kingdom to use applications to make high quality voice and video calls, under the condition that all applications are reviewed every so often.

“This fruitful cooperation between the kingdom’s telecoms partners comes under the umbrella of ‘Customer First’,” the Minister said, “a policy in which everyone works in order to give all telecom subscribers in the kingdom the best services that meet their expectations and satisfy their needs.”

Saudi Arabia has previously taken steps to improve customer service and create more transparency in the telecom sector, including the introduction of the quarterly index of complaints filed by subscribers to telecommunications providers.

More initiatives by the Commission are set to unfold in partnership with telecom providers, according to Arab News, to improve the sector and customer experience, in line with Saudi Vision 2030, a plan to reduce the kingdom’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and become a more digital, customer-centric society.   

Published in Government

Google recently launched a new simple video-calling service available for Android and iOS called Google Duo. It’s the second app announced by Google this year - along with the upcoming messaging app Allo - at its I/O conference, and reportedly one of four that the company plans to introduce. It didn’t take long for comparisons to emerge calling Duo Google’s answer to Apple’s FaceTime.

What notably stands out about Google Duo is the way it makes one-to-one video calling between Android phones and from Android to iPhone, very simple. Apple’s FaceTime still holds an advantage over the new app since FaceTime doesn’t have to be downloaded as an app since it comes embedded in compatible iPhones. But Duo’s simplicity is what is winning Android users over.

Google is known for often mirroring Apple and offering its services to Apple customers such as Google Maps, Google Photos and Google Docs, which were compelling alternatives to Apple’s proprietary apps such as Apple Maps, Photos and Notes. Google made things simpler for users by making its services available for a wider variety of devices, including Macs, Window PCSs, Android and iPhones.

In a blog post by Google, the company made a subtle reference to Apple’s tendency to make its services exclusive, saying: “You shouldn’t have to worry about whether your call will connect, or if your friend is using the same type of device as you are.” It feeds into Google’s strategy to attract iPhone users over to Android. “It’s no wonder that nearly half of us never make video calls on mobile,” the blog reads. “Today, we’re releasing Google Duo – a simple 1-to-1 video calling app for Android and iOS. Duo takes the complexity out of video calling, so that you can be together in the moment wherever you are.”

The app has been praised for its simplicity, which sounds great, but what does that really mean? According to the blog post, “Duo is simple from start to finish.” The app uses your phone number and connects you to the contacts listed in your phone’s contact list. What’s great about the app is that you don’t need a separate contact list, like you do for an app like Snapchat. Once Duo has your contact list, you can begin video calling your contacts as long as they have also downloaded the app.

Google claims that its new app is “fast and reliable” playing to the notion that we “all know how it feels when a call fails to connect or when video gets choppy”. Duo is designed to operate fast and reliably, even when it’s being used on a slower network. If you’re calling a friend on a weak network, the call quality will adjust to changing network conditions to make sure the call doesn’t disconnect when bandwidth is limited. In doing so, the resolution of the call will reduce, but the call will keep going. The app can also switch seamlessly between Wi-Fi and cellular data, making it easy to talk to someone on the go.

Arguably Duo’s most innovative feature is called Knock Knock. It addresses an issue we can all relate to, when someone is calling you, and you ignore the call because you don’t know what the person calling wants. “To make calls feel more like an invitation rather than an interruption, we created a feature in Duo called Knock Knock which lets you see live video of your caller before you answer, giving you a sense of what they’re up to and why they want to chat,” the blog post explains.

Adding a bit of controversy into the mix, Google also built Duo with an “emphasis on privacy and security” by promising that all calls made over the app are end-to-end encrypted. In recent news, France is trying to crackdown on instant encrypted messaging services like WhatsApp and Telegram because they are popularly used by terrorists to plan attacks. But from a user’s perspective, with Duo’s end-to-end encryption, as well as its simple template and reliability, the app is sure to be a hit.

Published in Apps