Skype on AppleTV – under development
I got information from Antoine, who organised our first booth at MacWorld, that the Mac development activity around Skype is not a “would be nice to have” but a true reality at the moment (more to come).
From what I heard there is somewhere over Canada one 20 years old guy who is developing Skype plug-in for AppleTV. Let’s take a little look at his video and have a little chat with him
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]]>Was it easy or difficult to develop the Skype plug-in for AppleTV? What was the most difficult part?
Most of it was pretty straightforward, thanks to Skype’s easy to use and well documented API, but it did have it’s difficult moments. I made many calls to echo123 while testing the plug-in! I think that the hardest part was writing my SkypeBride framework which parses the results from the API and sends notifications to the plug-in. Once I had that implemented, the rest of the plug-in was easily written.
Where did you get this idea and why did you start to develop this?
Well, one day I was sitting down on my couch watching Futurama on my Apple TV when I heard a Skype call come in on my computer. So I had to pause it, get up from couch and run all the way to my room to answer the call. The next day I made a post on my website about the idea and started working on it.
When are you hoping to release it?
The plan is to make a beta release on February 1 2008. It will probably be missing a few features, such as chat, SMS, and call history, but I’m hoping to finish implementing these very soon. I just wanted to get it stable at making and receiving calls, and at this point, it is. After the main features have been implemented, I would like to add video call support.
What is the end user journey?
Well since the plug-in is uses Skype, the user will have to have Skype for Mac installed on the Apple TV for this to work. I am working on adding an easy method for doing this, like an auto downloader and installer. After Skype has been installed, the plug-in will work and is very easy to use. I tried to make the interface resemble the actual Skype program as much as I could.
Apple TV is not that well-known – what is your opinion of Apple TV? Is there something missing?
I think that Apple did an amazing job on Apple TV and it has become one of my favorite toys. However, there are a few things that I think are keeping most people from getting one:
- You need an HDTV. Not everyone has one or can afford one. I agree that HDTV is the way of the future, but most people who want Apple TV aren’t prepared to buy a brand new TV just to be able to use it.
- Apple TV only allows you to play and sync Quicktime, mp4 and ect file formats.,Why not allow the user to sync any movie format they choose? They may have to install a codec to play it, but they should at least have the option. I think most people are choosing other media streaming devices that are friendly with popular video formats such as DivX, Xvid, ect.
Is it cool having Skype in Apple TV?
It sure is!! I giggled uncontrollably the night I was able to make my first call from it. I’ve tried to make the UI feel like Skype, but with the smooth and clean look of the Apple TV. I’m hoping to make the plug-in able to utilize every feature that Skype offers.
Given that there is no official way to extend Apple TV like this, aren’t you afraid only true geeks will try out your application?
Although there are a lot of people using custom plug-ins on Apple TV, I think that the fact that you have to “hack” it to be able to install and use these custom plug-ins scares the average user away. If Apple was to release an official SDK (Software Development Kit) for developers such as myself, most users would be able to easily expand the capabilities of their Apple TV,, making it more attractive.
How Skype can help you ?
Skype has already been a lot of help, advertising the plug-in and offering me any support that I needed. I will be releasing the plug-in for free so that anyone can use it, but I am unemployed at the moment with a student loan hanging over my head. Any donations that could be offered would be very much appreciated!
Is there another Skype plug-in coming from you in the near future? Any ideas? What about Skype on your 1990 Eagle Talon?
I have had a very positive experience programming for the Skype API. I hope to be able to write more software that can utilize it. Maybe I will try my hand at Skype for the iPhone, who knows. The plan is to implement the plug-in for my Talon (The Zapper) for an in-car telephone, once it’s finished!
I would like to thank the AwkwardTV community and Alan Quatermain who created the unofficial SDK for Apple TV. They are a dedicated group and this would have never happened without their work. I would also like to thank God for blessing me with the talents I have.
Isn’t this cool? We will keep you posted with the news how Brandon is doing and when the release is available.
Halina Mugame with Brandon Holland, student and a developer from Canada.