Xync: New Mobile Client for Micosoft UC

    We welcome the respected Habrausers. We are starting a blog of Digital Design, in which we will try to write about how we work, what we encounter in our activities, our ideas. We hope you find something interesting and useful for yourself.

    And in the first post we will share our impressions of Xync.

    While Microsoft promises to release a mobile client for Lync Server throughout 2011 (according to the latest rumors, the presentation should be held at Tech-ed on November 9-10), independent developers are on the alert.

    In August of this year, a mobile client appeared.from Microsoft's UCC partner Damaka. At the same time, a version for iOS and Android was released. Xync - the name received the new product - is actually the first mobile client for Microsoft UC that supports audio and video. The solutions that existed before this, including the “native” client for the Windows Mobile platform, allowed you to only display a contact list with presence information and exchange instant messages.

    Of course, we could not pass by such an interesting phenomenon and not try a new product at work. To do this, however, I had to go broke by $ 25, because the manufacturer does not want to give out a trial version. For some reason, this circumstance did not alert us. :)

    The object of testing was the edition of Xync-Conf-HD for iOS, which, in addition to transmitting audio and video in point-to-point mode, allows you to connect to audio conferences. Actually, there are only two editions so far: the base Xync-HD and the already mentioned Xync-Conf-HD, for $ 20 and 25, respectively. The third, called XyncCollab-HD, is currently undergoing a review in the AppStore. It will feature desktop and application sharing support.

    Now, actually, about the results of test operation. This is not to say that they pleased.
    All basic operations with contacts (searching, adding, moving, creating / deleting groups, moving contacts) work, but a little more “advanced”, for example, changing a contact’s privacy group or marking a contact to notify you of a status change is no longer available. The stability of the client also leaves much to be desired.

    Support for Unicode, and therefore Cyrillic, is not fully implemented in the product. For example, Cyrillic contact names are supported, but any data in the contact card (which, by the way, is displayed almost empty) or the text of an instant message in Russian is unreadable. On the product forum, there are developer promises to fix this situation in November.

    Some features of the interface seem illogical. For example, you can escalate a text conversation to an audio call, but for some reason you can’t add a video to an audio call. Concurrent conversations with several participants are possible, but switching between them is rather inconvenient.

    To top it all off, the quality of the video image transmitted by the device was simply disastrous. This is explained by the fact that encoding video on the fly requires a lot of processor resources, and there is no RTVideo hardware support in iPad2. As a result, the picture that the interlocutor sees looks more like a mosaic panel than a realistic image. The difference between the received and transmitted image can be estimated from the screenshots given.

    And yet, despite these problems, Xync has no alternatives yet. It does not require the addition of any components on the server side, it works with OCS 2007, OCS 2007 R2, Lync 2010, Office 365 transparently for users. The prospects for the implementation of video calls are still rather vague, since we do not know anything about Apple’s plans to implement RTVideo support. But in the product and in addition to the video, there is something to modify. Let's hope that the developers will heed the numerous comments, and future versions of Xync will not cause such conflicting feelings among users.

    Konstantin Shishkin
    Systems Engineer
    Digital Design

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