The Fluffshack

Unraveling the world one sock at a time

Android XMPP/Jabber xep-0045 support, and the Talkonaut team on why Android sucks

Talkonaut is a pretty cool XMPP/Jabber application for mobile platforms. Its based around a paid Googletalk-to-Voip gateway service developed by Evgeny Korolenko and Ruslan Zalata called Gtalk-to-Voip

I have been using Talkonaut for some time for its Multi-IM support, it will connect not only to Gtalk and other generic Jabber services, but also MSN. This was of course very useful.

Now recently, I have been using a new and in-development chat system called Bindpoint, and have been hanging out in the chat channel dedicated to the Wowcast podcast, on that system. (this is the chat windows you see in my sidebar on the blog, though I correct to it via the Pidgin client).

Recently, the start-up behind Bindpoint, AOEware, created a Jabber bridge. I immediately starting looking for Jabber clients that supported the xep-0045 extensions to Jabber, which is what the Jabber chat-room function is built around, if people so choose to implement it.

Talkonaut is one of the few, if not only mobile client that I am currently aware of, that supports these extensions, and thus supports multi-user Jabber chat rooms.

For a short time, I very happily used Talkonaut in this way, to chat with my friends in the Wowcast Bindpoint channel, on my old HTC Universal Windows mobile 5-based phone.

However, as you know, I recently got myself a G1, which has the Android OS on it.

Now there are a few Jabber clients out there for Android, most notably the built-in IM application that is there mainly to support Gtalk, but also the Meebo multi-IM client is popular. However, Meebo does not support multi-user Jabber chat rooms.

In fact, I have not been able to find a single decent Android multi-IM or Jabber client, that supports the xep-oo45 extentions, at all!

So I decided to mail the Talkonaut team, to see if they had an Android version of their client in development (hoping perhaps, to get into a private beta or some such). I exchanged a few very interesting emails with Ruslan Zalata, and they are reposted below with permission:

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Hello Robert,
Thanks for using Talkonaut. Unfortunetly Androind is very crappy platform based on Java which prohibits low-lever audio access (no full-duplex), and has no audio codecs. This means, we are unable to implement our main feature – VoIP calling, hence we cannot make any profit from this platform. So, until Google “fixes” these issues, we won’t start porting Talkonaut to Android. Hope you understand our position.

Me and some other guys already addressed these voip related questions on Android devepolment forum, there followed no response from Google. I believe they do afraid of mobile carriers who treat voip as a death pill to their business, and that is really true :-). So, in near fure we don’t expect voip possibilities on Android.
What’s more amazing is that Google removed XMPP/Jabber from basic setup of Android by request form T-Mobile. Seems carriers develop same attitude towards IM messegers as they are “stealing” SMS profit from them.

As for iPhone, i think it’s bit better platform, because of:
1. It is based on real BSD Unix (Darwin), but not Java machine running under Linux like in Android.
2. It was cracked (jail-broken) and you can install any application which can have access to any device feature, including hardware codecs, low-level duplex audio, low-level networking, etc.
We are currently working on version of Talkonaut for jail-broken iPhones both 1.0 and 2.0.
Standard (not jail-broken) iPhone is same sort of crap as Android – they are both fascist systems made to tie up users to some certain set of services/companies. One more platform in this row is BREW from Qualcomm.
In this regards, Symbian S60 and Windows Mobile are two independent platforms which will be first choise for developers in near future. Besides, they are well spread, well documented and have a large scale of third-party libraries developed for them aready.
Regards,
Ruslan.

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I was impressed by Ruslan’s honesty and I can completely understand their reasons for not pursuing Android at this time.

What I find discouraging is how Google seems to have, in this example, again bowed to the Mobile carriers. The Android OS is suppose to be an open one, and I thought that would mean there would be more or less no restrictions on what could be developed for it.

I also saw that the same limitation is to blame for the lack of any home-brewed video recorders for the G1 (explained here), a seriously lacking feature, as unforgivable to my mind as the Iphone’s lack of copy-paste or background applications.

So despite the openness of the platform, we are still depending on Google and whatever concessions they made with their mobile partners.

In the meantime, I am still looking for an Android client with xep-0045 Jabber support, so I can chat with my Bindpoint friends on the go.

March 2nd, 2009 Posted by | Gadgets, Geek, Tech | 7 comments