Skype's got a new audio codec that it thinks you should be pumped about, and it's called "Opus." It's been kicked around at Skype since March 2009, though work didn't begin in earnest until June of the same year, and it was just certified by the IETF as a standard of online audio. Senior Skype architect Koen Vos lead a team of audio engineers to create the hybrid audio codec, combining Skype's own "SILK" codec with Xiph.Org's "CELT" codec, intending to create a low-bandwidth codec "designed for the internet." But what does that mean for us? It means "CD quality" audio (fullband stereo sound) over Skype, regardless of internet connection. And what about those pesky packet loss issues that cause Skype calls to often sound choppy? "It has multiple mechanics to deal with and recover from packet loss plaguing the network," promises audio/video product engineering director Karlheinz Wurm. So ... uh, less of a chance of sounding like an Autobot then? Great!
Wurm says the new codec "will make a quiet but crystal clear entry into the world" without naming exactly when. And yes, Opus is expected to become standard across all Skype platforms. What's that, you want to watch a 45 minute speech about Opus? We've got you covered, just below the break.Permalink | | Email this | Comments
Mozilla has been keeping to a tight schedule of having a completed Firefox release every five to six weeks, and it's very much on track. The browser team's Ehsan Akhgari has confirmed that a properly polished version of Firefox 15 should reach the download servers on August 29th. When it does arrive, the new release will primarily expand the silent updates that Windows users first saw in Firefox 12: future iterations on all platforms will install themselves in the background and should be truly ready to go the next time the browser starts. Beyond this deliberately subtle change, the finished version 15 upgrade should still support Opus audio as well as clamp down on out-of-control memory use from add-ons. We're looking forward to not noticing the differences very shortly.
Update: Although it's not on the front page yet, both Mozilla, reader Josh and this writer can confirm that Firefox 15 is rolling out sooner than expected -- there's no reason to wait.
Update 2: It's now easier to get a stand-alone copy if you're not updating, since Mozilla just updated the Firefox front page to reflect the new version. Android users are also getting an update through Google Play that brings earlier speed updates to tablets, a personalized start page and a whole host of extra fixes, some of which come directly from the desktop Firefox 15.Permalink | | Email this | Comments
Can't bear to part with your favorite browser extensions, but can't stand to see them devour your system memory? Maybe you should check out Firefox 15. According to Mozilla's Hacks blog, the browser's latest beta should patch up the majority of memory leaks gushing from Firefox add-ons. Also new, is the beta's support for Opus, a free audio format partially supported by Mozilla. The firm hopes competing browsers will pick up the format as well, calling it "as good or better than basically all existing lossy codecs." The blog makes quite a case for the format, citing tests and bitrate information, going as far as giving instructions on embedding Opus players in web pages. Check out the codec of tomorrow for yourself at the source links below.Permalink | | Email this | Comments