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Apple job listings hint at future iOS telephony features

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
A number of job listings on Apple's website reveal that the iPhone maker is looking to implement various wireless telephony technologies in the next generation of iOS, and some descriptions call for a candidate with familiarity of IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture which is the basis of LTE voice services.

The Apple Wireless Technology team , found by Light Reading, ask for software engineers who have experience with a handful of essential voice signal technologies, which could mean the company is readying a voice over LTE (VoLTE) or branded voice over IP (VoIP) solution, reports GigaOM.

Although no current iPhone iteration supports LTE, telecoms that carry the device have already started rolling out the faster next-generation network in the U.S. Verizon, for example, had LTE-capable phones when the iPhone 4S was launched.

There has been speculation as to what architecture Apple will use when it begins to offer voice services on expected upcoming 4G LTE handsets, but the new job ads give a glimpse as to what the company could be planning.

One asks for an engineer experienced in session initiation protocol (SIP), real-time transport protocol (RTP), and VoIP-related protocols along with a familiarity of standard wireless technologies like GSM/UMTS, CDMA and IMS. Of particular interest is the IMS requirement as this is the architecture that the major U.S. wireless carriers are implementing or plan to implement in their respective 4G LTE networks.

It is unknown whether Apple will fully rely on IMS for communications in future products as it would place more power in the hands of the telecoms, though it seems that the company is at least experimenting with the idea. A possible solution that is compatible with IMS without fully supporting the architecture might be a more palpable option, especially for a company like Apple that puts emphasis on a consistent user experience over multiple devices.

"Whatever Apple does, it will want [voice] to work on its cellular and non-cellular devices," said Dean Bubley, founder of consulting firm Disruptive Analysis Ltd. "Any voice platform will need a non-SIM mode [like] an over-the-top extension of IMS. Apple won't want a completely different voice experience on the iPhone and a Wi-Fi only iPad."

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 19
Upon being employed by Apple you have to sign a waiver. It stipulates that you will allow Apple to implant Telephony devices to experiment with. Any such brain damage will be deemed a industrial accident.

If the implant is works then you are then property of Apple and will be in subjection to major upgrades.

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post #3 of 19
I was just thinking the other day, that'd be wonderful if Apple created a high-quality phone call protocol. Less compression when you're on 4G/Wi-Fi or something like that. Regular cell phone audio fidelity is so unbelievably terrible - it's the equivalent of dial-up quality in an age of 20 Mbps cellular speeds and 1080p video.

If they could get it up to par with landline telephones or even better. Most phone calls are only 5-12 kbps. I think those nice Cisco IP phones are like 64 kbps. Is there any technical reason why they couldn't make really nice audio over 4G/Wi-Fi?
post #4 of 19
Using a VoIP app like Viber makes me realize how terrible regular cell phone calls actually are.
Calls on that sound incredible.
post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerk36 View Post

Upon being employed by Apple you have to sign a waiver. It stipulates that you will allow Apple to implant Telephony devices to experiment with. Any such brain damage will be deemed a industrial accident.

If the implant is works then you are then property of Apple and will be in subjection to major upgrades.

That raises all kinds of speculation. Would you be covered by workers' comp for implants gone wrong? If you got lost in a bar and ended up in the possession of a Gizmodo editor, would it be theft or kidnapping?

Makes me think of Retina Display. When I first heard the term, I wondered if Apple was getting ready to pixelize the inside of people's eyelids.

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post #6 of 19
SIP. It's about time. Just one sign that Apple is doing something with the treasure trove of Nortel patents.
post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by acslater017 View Post

it's the equivalent of dial-up quality in an age of 20 Mbps cellular speeds and 1080p video.

If they could get it up to par with landline telephones or even better. Most phone calls are only 5-12 kbps. I think those nice Cisco IP phones are like 64 kbps. Is there any technical reason why they couldn't make really nice audio over 4G/Wi-Fi?

Digital encoding allows you to use compression and sample rates that vary widely. This is done to reduce the packet size considerably. Some are clearly better than others for instance, CDMA is better than what GSM typically uses *but they all have their purpose.

You can't just look at max bandwidth for your device and suggest that we need higher bit rate for voice because bandwidth is not the most important aspect when it comes to voice, it's throughput. You need QoS that will put that voice packet ahead of all others. The more bandwidth it takes the more stress you put on the network to get that packet to you in a timely manner. This problem grows exponentially.

Now I think G.722 and G7222.1 could be used on LTE and work just fine but that's just a guess and certainly shouldn't be deemed as fact until the numbers are run and the system tested.

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post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

You need QoS that will put that voice packet ahead of all others. The more bandwidth it takes the more stress you put on the network to get that packet to you in a timely manner.

Absolutely. Voice used to be much better quality in the old analog days. Sacrificing voice quality for speed is better than visa versa. Occasionally when calling internationally there can be a significant delay as the packets get routed over satellites, which makes having a conversation quite difficult. If the cell carriers didn't prioritize voice over regular data, we would likely experience the same sorts of delays locally.

I'm not sure how Skype does it but most of the time the quality is so good that the other person sound like they are right in the same room with you. It's a great service except for the tendency to lose connections on the iPhone. In my experience the iPhone version will drop the connection almost every minute, sometimes more frequently, making it virtually unusable, however, the Mac version does not have this issue at all.

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post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A possible solution that is compatible with IMS without fully supporting the architecture might be a more palpable option

Palpable? Or Palatable?
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Digital encoding allows you to use compression and sample rates that vary widely. This is done to reduce the packet size considerably. Some are clearly better than others — for instance, CDMA is better than what GSM typically uses —*but they all have their purpose.

You can't just look at max bandwidth for your device and suggest that we need higher bit rate for voice because bandwidth is not the most important aspect when it comes to voice, it's throughput. You need QoS that will put that voice packet ahead of all others. The more bandwidth it takes the more stress you put on the network to get that packet to you in a timely manner. This problem grows exponentially.

Now I think G.722 and G7222.1 could be used on LTE and work just fine but that's just a guess and certainly shouldn't be deemed as fact until the numbers are run and the system tested.

I'll be honest, I don't know a thing about how cellular technology works (BTW, thanks for replying and teaching me a little bit). I would be satisfied if they just took FaceTime audio and let you initiate calls over Wi-Fi/4G. Or even just Wi-Fi (FaceTime without the face).

Does the fact that LTE ping speeds are very fast address that throughput issue, or no?
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I'm not sure how Skype does it but most of the time the quality is so good that the other person sound like they are right in the same room with you. It's a great service except for the tendency to lose connections on the iPhone. In my experience the iPhone version will drop the connection almost every minute, sometimes more frequently, making it virtually unusable, however, the Mac version does not have this issue at all.

I get exactly the same connection dropping on the Mac version. Of course on a recent trip here in NZ, Stephen Fry compared our internet experience to Outer Mongolia, so that would have something to do with it.

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post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostkiwi View Post

I get exactly the same connection dropping on the Mac version. Of course on a recent trip here in NZ, Stephen Fry compared our internet experience to Outer Mongolia, so that would have something to do with it.

It's funny, I've had a lot of trouble with Skype over the years with very fast cable broadband but while in india and a hotel connection of 22 Kbps it works like a charm.

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post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

It's funny, I've had a lot of trouble with Skype over the years with very fast cable broadband but while in india and a hotel connection of 22 Kbps it works like a charm.

That is weird. In that case I have no idea why using Skype on the Mac has become so frustrating then.

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post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostkiwi View Post

That is weird. In that case I have no idea why using Skype on the Mac has become so frustrating then.

One reason could be that cable internet providers also now supply VoIP services to the home. I'm not saying they go out of their way to hinder the quality of the competing VoIP services but they might purposely lump all internet data into the same category to lower costs which could affect the QoS of competing VoIP services.

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post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

One reason could be that cable internet providers also now supply VoIP services to the home. I'm not saying they go out of their way to hinder the quality of the competing VoIP services but they might purposely lump all internet data into the same category to lower costs which could affect the QoS of competing VoIP services.

That's not it here. Internet providers don't have a competing VOIP solution that they could push and they state in their advertising that VOIP takes precedence over all other data. Of course that is just what they say...

Anyways, I am looking forward to doing an international FaceTime call, as I am very interested in comparing it to Skype.

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post #16 of 19
post #17 of 19
Apple already has it -- FaceTime, just background by hitting the home button after going into a FT call, and you will see how CRAPPY cellular audio is -- unbearable!

Start with a cellular call and then switch to FT -- you will not believe your ears!

Quote:
Originally Posted by acslater017 View Post

I was just thinking the other day, that'd be wonderful if Apple created a high-quality phone call protocol. Less compression when you're on 4G/Wi-Fi or something like that. Regular cell phone audio fidelity is so unbelievably terrible - it's the equivalent of dial-up quality in an age of 20 Mbps cellular speeds and 1080p video.

If they could get it up to par with landline telephones or even better. Most phone calls are only 5-12 kbps. I think those nice Cisco IP phones are like 64 kbps. Is there any technical reason why they couldn't make really nice audio over 4G/Wi-Fi?
post #18 of 19
I'd be surprised if iOS doesn't support IMS already. It's a technology that's been around for a long time and pre-dates LTE by years.
post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by acslater017 View Post

I'll be honest, I don't know a thing about how cellular technology works (BTW, thanks for replying and teaching me a little bit). I would be satisfied if they just took FaceTime audio and let you initiate calls over Wi-Fi/4G. Or even just Wi-Fi (FaceTime without the face).

Does the fact that LTE ping speeds are very fast address that throughput issue, or no?

Here is some digestible information on voice calls with LTE.

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