The Android ad-hoc client is probably the most fully-equipped mobile client of the pack.
It currently provides support for the following features:
- Presentation Sharing
- File Sharing
- Whiteboard (passive only)
- Polling (passive only)
- VoIP audio (active) and video (passive)
As such, it provides a valid alternative to the other available clients.
It is worth noting that you're not forced to make use of the integrated VoIP functionality to access the media stream. Considering the multitask nature of the Android platform, you can easily rely on complementary functionality to achieve the same result, like making use of a third-party softphone (e.g. SipDroid) or placing a native phone call (should you prefer so), while still taking advantage of the other features provided by the Meetecho client itself.
Installing the client
The client is not available in the official Android Market yet.
Until then, in order to install the client on your device you have to download the .apk installer from the Meetecho website, and then install it on your phone directly. On your device, be sure you have enabled "Settings > Applications > Unknown sources", otherwise the operation will fail.
The easiest way to install the application is download the file using your phone mobile browser, tap on the downloaded file and then follow the procedure to install the application. If you already installed Meetecho for Android before, than you have to first uninstall the one you already have, and then install the updated one.
Please beware that the client only supports versions equal to or higher than 1.6: older versions of the Android platform are not supported. The application can be moved to SD, if allowed by your device.
Launching the client
To launch the client, just look for "Meetecho" in your applications list and tap on it. You might want to add it to your Home shortcuts as well (who knows, you might end up liking it *that* much!).
Configuring the application
The first time you launch the client, you will be suggested to have a look at the settings. The available preferences are quite straightforward to understand, and range from simple network settings to login and codec preferences.
You can access these settings anytime you want by pressing the menu key while on the Login screen.
This will activate the login procedure. If successful, you will be brought to a new activity, the conferences list.
The list of conferences
Pressing the menu button allows you to have access to some additional features, as your roster.
Joining a conference
To join a conference (be it currently active or not), just scroll to the conference you're interested to and tap on it. A popup alert will give you the details about the conference itself (e.g., the subject, if it's private or not, who's already participating and so on). Confirming your intention to join the conference will trigger a new activity, the collaboration view.
As soon as you join a specific conference session, the view changes, and a tabbed activity is presented, including:
- A chatroom tab
- A presentation sharing tab
- A whiteboard tab
- A multimedia (VoIP) tab
Each tab makes available one or more features, as it will be explained in the following subsections.
This is the default tab that is opened as soon as you join a new conference. This view includes the public chatroom associated with the conference: in order to participate to the chat, just write something in the text area below, and press enter or tap on Send.
This chatroom also publishes information related to a few other features: every time a file is shared within the conference, for instance, an active notification is published to the chatroom, as it will be explained in the next subsection as well.
The Android client supports both active and passive file sharing: this means you can send the other participants files you have on your device, and receiving files sent by other participants as well.
For what concerns receiving files, every file shared within a conference is published on the chatroom, together with the related information (i.e., file name and size): if you're interested in receiving and saving the file on your device, just tap on it and it will be saved in background. A progress bar notification will allow you to keep track of the download progress. As soon as the file has been downloaded, the notification will change color, and tapping on it again will allow you to open the file directly, if you have a proper viewer installed (e.g., if an image has been shared, the application will try to open it using the default image application you have installed).
If you're interested in sharing a file yourself, press the Menu button while on the chatroom tab and choose "Share file": you will be asked which kind of file you want to share. You may even choose "Camera" to take a picture and immediately share it with other participants. According to your choice (e.g. Documents), the SD will be explored to provide you with a list of compliant files (e.g. PPT, PDF, etc.). Choose the file you want to share, and the application will send it to the server, which in turn will trigger a notification to all the other participants (including you) about the new share.
The second tab hosts the Presentation Sharing functionality.
Whenever a new presentation by one of the other participants is available, the tab shows the currently presented slide: the slide will automatically change as soon as a trigger is sent by the presenter.
If you want to present one yourself, press the Menu button while on this tab, and tap on "Upload Slides". The SD will be explored in order to find any compliant file (PPT, PDF, ODP, DOC, etc.), in order to provide you with a list to pick from. Choose the document you want to present, and then wait for the upload and conversion to complete. As soon as the presentation is ready, the view will change and a thumbnails gallery associated with the presentation will be enabled on the upper side of the activity: just tap on the slide you want to present (e.g. the third thumbnail if you want to present the slide 3) and a trigger will be sent to all the other participants as well. To stop your presentation, press the Menu button again and choose the related option.
The Android client supports the Whiteboard functionality of the Meetecho system: nevertheless, despite some placeholder buttons already included in the layout, this feature is read-only in the client at the moment. We're currently working to add active whiteboarding to the client as well.
To participate passively to the whiteboarding session, navigate to the Whiteboard tab and press the Menu button: from there, choose to join the whiteboard. At this point, whenever new drawings/canvases will be added to the whiteboard, you will be able to see them. You will also be able to save each whiteboard as an image file, by accessing the Menu as before.
To leave the Whiteboard, press the Menu button again and choose the related option.
The Android client also allows you to participate to any poll that may be initiated in a conference session. It is not currently possible to create a new poll from the Android client, but we're working on that.
This feature is not associated with any tab at he moment: as soon as a new poll is created, a new popup alert appears, prompting you to send your vote. To participate, just check the options you want and confirm your choice.
The results will then be presented in the chatroom.
As anticipated at the beginning of this section, the Android client also includes an integrated VoIP client to access the media functionality. Specifically, a lightweight SIP client (based on MjSIP/SipDroid) is integrated as a tab to the client itself, allowing you to participate to the audio (and partly video) part of the conference.
The SIP call is not enabled by default when you join a new conference using the Android client, in order to avoid consuming bandwidth shouldn't you want to: if you want to access the audio stream, navigate to the last tab, and click on the green phone icon. This will have the client attempt to place a SIP call at the SIP URI associated with the conference, and negotiate both audio (RTP) and moderation (BFCP).
As soon as the negtiation has been completed, you should be able to listen to the other active participants talking, if any. Since in Meetecho the access to the audio stream is BFCP-moderated, you'll have to make a floor request if you want to talk as well: to place a request, just press your D-PAD button, or use the Menu button and choose the Unmute option. If the request is accepted, a voice prompt will notify you, and you will be able to interact with the other participants.
You can choose to activate the speakerphone by pressing the right option in the Menu: just beware that, if you're currently allowed to talk, no echo cancellation functionality is envisaged, and so the audio will probably degrade. As such, you're suggested to only use the speakerphone if you're just listening.
To conclude, the Android client also allows you to watch a live video of the other participants in the conference: due to some limitations in the current API, this feature is limited to passive video decoded via software. As such, it may not work great on your device, but it's a cool feature nevertheless! To enable video in your VoIP session, just tap on the Meetecho logo in the VoIP tab and follow the instructions. Once enabled, the only way to disable video is to hangup the call.
To hangup the call while still using the other features, tap on the red phone icon or use the Hangup option in the Menu. You'll still be able to access the conference call again, should you want so.
Leaving a conference
To leave a conference you're participating to, you have two choices:
- either press the Back button of your mobile twice (in order to make sure you didn't hit it by mistake, it happens all the time!);
- or press the menu button, whichever tab your on, and choose the Exit option.
Leaving a conference will bring you back to the conferences list activity.
To log out and leave the system, do exactly the same as explained in the previous subsection, while in the conferences list activity.
Logging out will bring you back to the Login activity.
The Android client only supports versions equal to or higher than 1.6: older versions of the Android platform are not supported, and as such you should not attempt to install and use the application if you have a lower version installed on your device.
The following FAQ si an attempt to cover the most common troubles that may occur: if you find anything not listed here, or think the answer is not enough or doesn't properly address your problem, don't hesitate to contact us.
I can't login!
Are username/password/server correct? Is a network enabled on your device? Is the application allowed to make use of the enabled network? If you're using WiFi, make sure no firewall/proxy is in place to filter XMPP traffic. If you're using your data connection, make sure it is actually on and not stalling for any reason.
The VoIP call is stuck and won't complete!
Has the network state changed while using the application? Is there any firewall/proxy blocking SIP traffic in place? The SIP session used for the VoIP call relies on a re-INVITE to negotiate BFCP moderation, a flow that may be interrupted by restrictive firewalls/proxies/ALGs. Unfortunately, at the moment the only solution is to forcely interrupt the application, e.g. by means of a task killer (either native or third party), but we're working on it.
The video is very slow and/or buggy and/or not in sync!
Due to limitations in the current API, we're currently limited to software decoding of the incoming H.263 video stream: this may cause lower spec devices not to be able to decode properly. We're currently working on both hardware decoding and active video participation.
The application crashed!
Well that sucks! What were you trying to do? Which was the current activity? What was the error message? The application has Debug mode enabled, which means that in case you know how to do it, you can try USB debugging to get an actual stacktrace.
Other questions to follow...... and we will answer them!