Thursday, December 15, 2011

Serval Developer Release 0.07, and our Roadmap for 2012

It has been some time since our last developer release, and so it is with great pleasure that I am able to announce that Serval BatPhone Developer Release 0.07 is now available for download from the Android Market.

This version offers compatibility with many more models of Android handsets, fixes to a large number of bugs, and some general usability improvements.  Full functionality still requires root permissions on your phone, but it does its' best to work on phones without root access.

Personally, what I am most happy about is that we have substantially improved our software development and release process, which has already resulted in a much better quality in the current release, and I am confident will result in increasing quality in future releases.

In the longer-term this is the first of several planned releases that will hopefully bring us to a 1.00 public release around September 2012.  The planned intervening releases and their headline improvements, subject to resourcing, slippages and all the other usual hazards of software development are:

0.08 - Serval Rhizome/MeshMS store-and-forward file distribution core technology.  Automatic update of Serval software over the mesh.

0.09 -  Revamped and consolidated MeshMS API and functionality.  Integrated UI for sending and receiving MeshMS messages, including using the Rhizome store-and-forward facility.The underlying technology has already been demonstrated by sending an SMS between Africa and Australia without reliance on infrastructure.

0.10 - Revamped UI for entire Serval Mesh application.  Voicemail and Push-to-talk group communications.

0.11 - Serval Mapping Integrated (using Rhizome to get map tiles without internet access).  Voice calls moving from SIP+RTP via SipDroid and Asterisk to Serval MSIP and MDP, which will improve performance on lossy wireless networks, allowing clear calls over multi-hop links each with 50% packet loss, and greatly reducing the APK size by removing the full Asterisk deployment it currently contains.

0.12 - Consolidate existing work, and address outstanding issues for first public release.  0.12 will become 1.00RC1 when accepted.

Together, these releases will culminate in a software package that will let you do most mobile-phone type things (voice calls, SMS/MMS, voice mail, push-to-talk) when there is no infrastructure, or for free when infrastructure is available, such as transferring and sharing data among friends and community without having to pay up to $2/MB for SMS traffic or $2/MB for cellular data services.

This is good news for people with very low purchasing power, such as large portions of the population in developing countries as well as for those living in more developed countries such as Australia, where infrastructure is not universally present, especially for those living in rural and remote areas.

But for now, it is back to working on Serval Mesh release 0.08 ...

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