Brandon Holland and His Affinity for the Echo123 Girl.

Mobivox may have its VoxGirl to direct your Skype calls around the world for the cost of a "local" call from any phone set but Brandon Holland, an AppleTV afficiando and Mac developer in Kewlowna, B.C., Canada, has been trying to get a date with Skype’s Echo123 girl (she who answers those Skype Test Calls). He’s been calling her a lot lately but she keeps on asking him to leave a message which just gets echoed back to him.

Why this interest? Because Brandon has been demonstrating that Skype’s API’s have allowed him to create an AppleTV plug-in for Skype. To date he has developed it to the point where he can make Skype and SkypeOut calls (while charged against your SkypeOut credits) from an AppleTV with a USB phone added. The USB phone provides the mic (iPod Touch owners, don’t get envious) while you listen to the other party on your TV’s speakers via the AppleTV’s Built-in Line Output. Future plans call for adding most of the other Skype features such as chat, file transfer, SMS messaging, etc.

Brandon has made lots of calls to the Echo123 Girl and has now made available a version 0.1 beta release that you can download here. Because the AppleTV has not exactly been one of Apple’s hit products for which an upgrade was announced recently, I was a little calloused about such a development. But then I watched Brandon’s video demonstration and found that his personal passion for developing mashups or plug-ins comes through very strongly as well as showing the stages he is taking this development through to make it a complete Skype offering. A definite ‘Must Watch"!

Halina Mugame, editor of the Skype Developer Program’s newsletter, interviewed Brandon last week: An excerpt:

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.

Michael Rose at tuaw.com, "The Unofficial Apple Weblog" brings up some caveats:

I can’t really picture how this module is going to work for actual calling (and I don’t have an Apple TV to try it out on), but if it refines into a true Skype client, and the [delayed] Take 2 update doesn’t completely nuke the Apple TV development scene, and Skype gets past its current security worries, this could be a very interesting path towards our videophone-enabled, jet-pack-wearing future.

So while AppleTV is struggling to get market traction, its Mac OS base and the Skype API’s have certainly been combined to demonstrate the potential and ease for developing Skype-enabled applications for the Mac world. And add AppleTV to those devices taking Skype beyond the basic telephone handset.

Tags: Skype, AppleTV, Skype forMac, Skype API’s, Brandon Holland, Halina Mugabe, Michael Rose

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.
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