Hey Ip-Tel! Showmee how this app got on my phone.

3 04 2011

Over the past few days there have been a number of updates to the sipdroid application. Normally this wouldn’t be something to report about, unless the updates included major new features that is…which they did. New features don’t always mean happy users though . As someone who has recommended Sipdroid for years, I must say I had some serious doubts about the future of our beloved original sip app.

While scrolling through the apps on my HD2 the other day, I noticed one that I had never heard of, and sure as hell don’t remember downloading.
So where did this “SHOWMEE” app come from?
What does it do?
I’m not one to just open strange programs, so I looked it up…
WTF? There is no market link or description….
The name just sounds shady to begin with. I damn sure ain’t about to open it so the developer can showmee how they exploit my system…drag, drop, uninstall.
Huh? No don’t uninstall sipdroid…wait sipdroid icon was nowhere near showmee’s..so that means Showmee is Sipdroid (or rather part of sipdroid). Guess that means its safe to open.

What I found when I opened it was a non functional force close generating application with an ip-tel logo. It adds what they call “VideoSMS” functionality to sipdroid. What it actually does (or is supposed to do) is attach a video to an email. Not a bad idea I guess. Email apps can already do that, but hey, it saves a couple steps. Might even be useful for those with front facing camera once the kinks are worked our. For instance the error authenticating message displayed when requesting pin lead to 26 emails with different pins.

So what’s the big deal? What has all those people posting negative reviews and dropping the app down to 1 star? Other than showmee being total crap at this point that is. The main issue appears to be the fact that they snuck this app in under the sipdroid package name thereby keeping their years of good ratings on the market. Rather than make a new package that is a plugin/addon ( which devs have been doing since day 1. Inter-app functionality is a major + in android ) they repackaged the original or “PURE” Sipdroid as a new app. On top of that, the account backup/restore feature that has been in the app for a long time, wasn’t working. So people had to re-enter their info in the “new” (old) app. Alot of those users had to go look up that info because of the auto-register feature sipdroid had for pbxes org

After many complaints the developers decided to “make showmee optional” by not displaying the icon or executing the showmee code unless a register videosms button is pressed. This seems to be a reasonable solution, though it limits the company from getting showmee specific reviews, ratings, or complaints. So now the sipdroid issue tracker will be flooded with new showmee related things. Meanwhile, sipdroid could still be much improved. Features like additional codecs, codec priority, and things of that nature.

There are a number of alternatives to sipdroid out there now. Over the next couple of distros native sip should be pretty reliable and robust. The folks over at ip-tel should stay focused on remaining top dog in the android sip game, and making pbxes the best provider for mobile sip.

Instead they are focused on video. At&t was trying to push video calling almost 20 years ago. They even got it working pretty well over pstn which is not known for great bandwidth. Problem was, nobody gave a damn. The demand just wasn’t there. What demand there is now is fulfilled by video chat clients such as yahoo and Skype. So how about just making us users happy by finding better ways to have clear calls over our shitty cellular data networks 🙂