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Jun 6, 2015 3:17 PM ET

Archived: Talky — The First Truly Simple Video Chat: Simple video chat and screensharing for groups. Oh, and we’re open sourcing all the components

iCrowdNewswire - Jun 6, 2015


Talky — The First Truly Simple Video Chat

Imagine being able to send a link and immediately be in a face to face conversation with a group of friends or colleagues.

Talky makes that a reality. 

It’s a free, secure, open source, completely independent video chat service, that can handle screensharing and even scale to groups of up to 15 people.

Skip the hassle of signing up for service, no plug-ins to install or download, it’s as simple as sharing a link. You can try it out right now at talky.io.

The problem 

Video chat has long been cumbersome. You usually have to download a special application. Participants have to log in to the right account. It can be tedious to remember your username, or update to the latest version. When things go wrong, you have to switch to a different service – and start all over. All of this inconvenience can eat up your time and money.

The solution 

For the past two years, our team has been working, researching, and testing ways to make video chat easier to use and more robust. That’s why we created our free service Talky and lots of open source code to both share what we’ve learned and encourage contributors to help us discover more about WebRTC, as well as help developers build similar applications for the open web.

We’ve increased the capabilities of Talky to include the things we use every day as a team: the ability to screenshare and scale up for larger groups, along with an iOS app for when we’re on the go.

But we want Talky to do more. And that’s why we’re asking you to help us make Talky even better.

Why do we need your support? 

We’ve put two years into making Talky great and building open source tools for web-based collaboration. But getting Talky to our ultimate goal of improved quality and accessibility will take more than we can give at the present.

Our team of 30+ yetis balance the challenging dynamics of being a product company, as well as consulting/training experts, with maintaining a vibrant presence in the JavaScript, WebRTC, and open source communities.

We’re asking you for the opportunity to focus on making what you already love even better.

Who is Talky for?

Talky is for everyone. Period. If you can use a browser or a smartphone then Talky was made specifically for you.

Lawyers, doctors, tech workers, grandparents, remote workers, kids and families, government workers, American Sign Language community members, teachers, school children...Talky was built for everyone!
Lawyers, doctors, tech workers, grandparents, remote workers, kids and families, government workers, American Sign Language community members, teachers, school children…Talky was built for everyone!

How are people using Talky?




 Family get togethers


What’s changing about Talky? 

We want to make Talky into an open and people-friendly alternative for realtime communication.

We’ve already added the following features to the beta version of Talky, but they need polishing and feedback from you!

  • 15 people or more
  • Text chat 
  • Improved user experience 
  • High-definition video

Now, there are some features we need your support on that are under development but need additional polishing before they’re ready to release:

  • File sharing 
  • Reserved rooms 
  • Better handoffs between Wi-Fi and mobile networks 
  • Updated iOS app to support all of the above

And finally there are some larger projects that we want to take on:

  • An all-new Android app 
  • Broadcast 
  • Opt-in recording

Why Kickstarter? 

Talky has been independently bootstrapped since Day One (no venture capitalists, no telco sponsors, no outside investors). This is the only form of fundraising that fits in with our core philosophies as a team. We’re only willing to accept funding from the people we feel we owe it to, and to provide an amazing service in the first place. And we want to keep Talky simple and so it only feels right for us to reach out to the people who use Talky, love Talky and want to see it improved.

A rising tide floats all boats. By making Talky a stronger service and a viable competitor with corporate video chat services, we’re empowering you with more options for how you choose to communicate. Bringing more attention and interest to the technology behind Talky, WebRTC, gets more folks involved with and experimenting on their own WebRTC projects. Which in turn, further develops the SimpleWebRTC and global WebRTC open source communities.

Tools for the web we want. No black boxes here. Talky is built on a large base of open standards and open source code — both code we’ve written ourselves (SimpleWebRTC, stanza.io, OtalkAmpersand.js, etc.) and code from projects we know and trust (Jitsi, Prosody, restund, etc.). Our commitment to open technologies is a big reason why people around the world have trusted Talky with their communications over the last few years, and that commitment will continue as long as we run the service for you.

&yet’s WebRTC experience (This is like our street cred).

We built and maintain SimpleWebRTC which is one of the most popular open source WebRTC libraries available.

We helped AT&T create WebRTC tools that make it possible to make and receive real phone calls with your phone number in your browser using WebRTC.

We built Jingle.js and Stanza.io which in combination allow you to build Jingle compliant/interoperable web clients without needing to touch XML.

We’re working on Otalk.im an open source Skype alternative using XMPP, Jingle, and WebRTC to provide interoperability and federation with other servers.

We set up IsWebRTCReadyYet? to track WebRTC implementation progress for various browsers.

Our commitment to open source and open standards 

Our &yet team is passionate about both open source and open standards because we believe in the commons—the things we all share together and are all able to use. We’re used to things like air, water, parks, and transportation being part of the commons.

We invest in open source because we feel that, as developers, we have stood on the shoulders of giants who have generously shared their best work with the commons—we owe the same.

We work so proactively in this area, that people say things like:

“I rarely build a project without happening upon work &yet put into the world, and I’m grateful for it.” — Alex Sexton, Stripe, jQuery

Open standards are a little less familiar of a concept to most people. These are things like:

  • HTTP / HTTPS (web and APIs) 
  • IMAP and SMTP (email standards) 
  • XMPP and IRC (chat) 
  • WebSocket (server-client socket connections) 
  • Oauth (standardized distributed authentication) 
  • WebRTC (peer-to-peer voice, video, and data)

These standards are Internet protocols that create the valuable commons of the Internet and make it a level playing field when it comes to core technologies.

The &yet team have been actively involved in open standards, especially around communication technologies. For almost 15 years, our CTO, Peter Saint-Andre, served as one of the most active participants in the IETF, the Internet standards body. Several other members of our team have participated in leading standards work as well.

At &yet, we feel that the commons of the Internet is under assault by aggressive privatization. We fear that many of these standards will simply become outdated and abandoned unless (1) the software community creates useful tools based on standard that empower developers, and (2) teams build standards-based software with a strong focus on UX.

Those are exactly the things we are doing with Talky.

We’re not only creating a UX-driven product built on open standards, we’re also open sourcing all of the tools we’re creating. In addition to the numerous projects our individual team members have created, we’ve already open source nearly 50 different projects at github.com/andyet/otalk and we plan to share even more.

How Talky works

To make Talky go, we use a whole alphabet’s soup of advanced technologies for realtime communication. The basic idea is this:

  • When you visit the Talky website or launch the Talky iOS app, your computer runs the software code that we provide and talks to our server to set up the video chat. 
  • When your friend visits the link you send, your friend’s computer also runs our software code. 
  • Once both computers are connected to our server, your computer exchanges various kinds of information with your friend’s computer either directly (“peer to peer”), through our server, through a special “media relay” that we run to help audio and video data travel through firewalls, or (for large sessions) through a video bridge that takes some of the load off your computer so you can chat with more than a few people at a time. 
  • You and your friend have a pleasant conversation, click the “Leave” button, and your computers tear down the various connections they set up to each other, our server, and the media relay.

Talky and your privacy

The short story is that your audio and video data are encrypted between your computer and your friend’s computer, so that your conversations can’t be unscrambled by eavesdroppers. We also encrypt all the set up, call control, and tear down information that your computer sends to our servers (which can reveal private information such as the “IP address” of your computer).

When you use Talky for a one-to-one conversation, your audio and video data is always end-to-end encrypted.

Unfortunately, things are more complex when it comes to securing group conversations because we need to use a media bridge to preserve your bandwidth and CPU. We encrypt that data, too, but theoretically we could decrypt it in the middle if we were so inclined. However, we’re not inclined to do that, and in fact our default privacy policy is never to gather or store or sell information about you, to log your conversations, or to engage in any other behavior that would compromise your privacy and security in any way.

If you want ultimate control you’ll need to run your own web server, signaling server, media relay, and so on. This really isn’t all that hard for serious techies, and we contribute to open source code to make that possible. However, if you’re a normal Internet user it’s beyond your reach, which of course is why we offer Talky in the first place.

What people are saying about Talky


Rewards details 

For reward levels $50 pledge and $99 pledge, we’re offering a t-shirt, but not just any any t-shirt. We want to give those sponsors the opportunity to vote for the t-shirt design they want most!

For the $1500 pledge, or one year of hosted version of Talky with your logo and branding, the retail value of one year of hosted Talky is 3K so your pledge gets you a 50% discount.

For the $5000 pledge, or to install Talky behind your own company firewall, this pledge gets you $2500 off the retail value for six months of this service.  

For the $8000 pledge, aka premiere sponsorship, the retail value is 10 ma-zillion dollars because this is the only time we’ll offer this. Ever.

For $10000 pledge, one week of WebRTC consulting with members of the Talky team, this consulting service typically runs between 15-50K, so it’s an incredible opportunity to collaborate with our WebRTC pros.

The company behind Talky 

&yet is a 7 year-old, independent, bootstrapped company. We are a very people-focused team who enjoys building products with end-to-end expertise and creating ambitious experiences.

Here’s what a few folks have to say about us:

“&yet cares about nothing more than being good people, doing good work, and helping everyone around them succeed.” —Forrest Norvell, npm, inc.

“&yet is consistently the expert on every emerging web technology.” — Mikeal Rogers

“If Conway’s Law is true (it is) and software reflects the organization that wrote it, then anything that &yet puts out there is bound to be fantastic.” — Alex Sexton, Stripe, jQuery

“&yet represents a new business mindset that puts community values and corporate responsibility in the forefront.” —Joe Schiessl, City of Richland

You can read more about &yet here.


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