Google Summer of Code & OpenIntents

This year was the first year OpenIntents participated in the Google Summer of Code. We are an open source organization which creates software for Android mobile phones and tablets, with special emphasis on interoperability with other software components.

As an organization we’ve found involvement in the Google Summer of Code extremely rewarding. The students have been able to improve their skills and gain practical experience in the stages of a software project, our organization has benefited from the interest generated from the students’ work, and the wider community will continue to benefit from the code the students have delivered.

We particularly enjoyed the international aspect of the program. All students, mentors, and co-mentors lived in different countries which did not prevent us from having a great time discussing the projects through Skype and live chat sessions. We received a great number of excellent proposals, from which two very different projects were chosen for the program.

Elena Burceanu’s project aimed to enhance the Sensor Simulator. During the first weeks, the GUI was polished, both in appearance and through clever code restructuring. After enhancing the GUI the number of supported sensors was increased and now includes Android sensors for gyroscope and general rotation vector. Finally, a scenario simulator was added, which creates sensor output from a set of initial states and the ability to change the time intervals between them. The sensor’s values are smoothly interpolated between the key frames. The final product was released as version 2.0. The source code and documentation for Elena’s project are now available to view.

Andras Berke’s project consists of a new application called Historify which displays the user’s activities with others over a variety of communication methods (Voice, SMS, Facebook, etc.), and provides a method for third party applications to supply other activity events showing the interoperability of Android applications. During the summer Andras went through the whole application design process from the UI wireframes to a first beta release including documentation along the way. In addition, he provided demo applications to show how third party developers can interact with Historify. You can now view the source code and documentation from Andras’ summer project.

The iOS Video Chat Applications: FaceTime vs. Skype

Obviously, these tests aren’t scientific, but now that FaceTime has some real competition from the biggest name in video chat, we thought we’d do a quick comparison of the two. We know there are other apps out there, but since these are by far the most well-known, we’re just covering these for now. For frame of reference, the tests were performed with either an iPhone 4 and an iPod touch 4G or an iPhone 4 and a Hackintosh running OS X with a Logitech Pro 9000 webcam.


Unlike Skype on the desktop, which has a lot of configuration settings that allow you to optimize video for different connections, Skype on iOS is a chat-out-of-the-box affair. It handles video chatting pretty well, though, since it limits the video quality of the outgoing video to keep it from sucking up your bandwidth. The audio quality we experienced was very clear, and while your outgoing video on the iPhone might not be the best, the incoming video is of higher quality if your chat partner is on a desktop computer. Quality will be a bit lower on both sides if it’s iOS-to-iOS. We did notice a bit of lag in between the video and the audio as well, though it was nothing unbearable—we still found it to be a pleasurable video chat experience.

Feature-wise, it’s important to note that Skype has a big leg up on FaceTime at the time of this writing (January 2011). Not only does it have the ability to video chat over Wi-Fi and 3G, it’s also cross-platform on the desktop, which means you can chat with any of your friends, whether they have Windows, OS X, or Linux.

While FaceTime doesn’t give you as many options as Skype, seeing as it’s iOS and Mac only (and is limited to Wi-Fi at the moment), it does still provide a good video chat experience. The audio quality was still pretty great, and there was no lag between the video and the audio like there was on Skype. The video quality was a bit better when you stood still, though if you started moving around the framerate would drop (until you stood still again).

Overall, I wouldn’t particularly pick one over the other, as they’re both great apps. If you put a gun to my head, I’d probably pick FaceTime, if only for the lack of lag—but the video quality in Skype, while lower, was a bit less distracting (to me, at least). They’re both great apps, and I wouldn’t push any of my friends to use one or the other while chatting with me. Like I mentioned before, Skype has the distinct advantage of being cross-platform and not being limited to Wi-Fi, so that’s always a big plus.