Blog - Gruveo

An Apology to Our French Users

French flag heartTomorrow, on October 14, the Gruveo app for iOS goes live. We couldn’t have been happier if not for one thing: The app will not be available in the French App Store at launch.

As we mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, France has very strict laws for importing encryption products. Gruveo is no doubt such a product because it encrypts all of your calls. Unfortunately, getting the permission from the French government to release the app in France is a lengthy and time consuming process, with no time frame guarantees.

Ironically, France is Gruveo’s 5th biggest market, with almost 7% of the past month’s calls having been made by our French users. We are thus very motivated to make the iOS app available in France as soon as possible. It’s just that it won’t happen tomorrow, and we are very sorry for that.

The Gruveo iOS App: What’s Inside

The Gruveo app for iOS goes live in just 5 days, and, as promised in the previous post, here are some highlights of the app’s features and capabilities.

Seamless operation with the web app. Easily call anyone, no matter if they use the iOS app or access Gruveo in their browser.

Mute camera/microphone. Don’t want the other person to see or hear you? Use the app’s mute buttons to mute your camera or mic.

Background mode. Easily switch to a different app while on a Gruveo call. You will still be heard and hear the other person, too.

Text chat. Send and receive text messages during a call, no matter what Gruveo client the other person uses.

Switch to/from loudspeaker. Make Gruveo use your phone speaker or headset, or force the audio output to the loudspeaker – it’s your call.

Works on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The single Gruveo app works on multiple types of Apple’s mobile devices.

iOS 6 friendly. No need to upgrade if you are still on iOS 6! Gruveo works on iOS 6 – all the way up to iOS 8.

We hope that this gives you a good overview of what you can expect next Tuesday. And if you have any other questions regarding the upcoming Gruveo iOS app, just ask in the comments below!

It’s Official: Gruveo for iOS Landing Next Week!

Update October 9: Click here to learn about the key features of the upcoming iOS app.

It has been a long, long wait but now it’s finally over. This past Friday, we have received that coveted email from Apple saying that the Gruveo app’s status has been changed to “Ready for Sale.” In plain English, this means that we can finally release Gruveo for iOS!

We need about a week to ensure that all our systems are 100% ready for the launch (including the inevitable spike in traffic), so we decided to set the release date to Tuesday, October 14. That’s just 8 days from today.

After spending a total of 5.5 weeks in the App Store’s review limbo, we are super-excited to be releasing the app… and we hope you are just as excited to finally be able to use Gruveo on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

In a few days’ time, we’ll be previewing some of the app’s features and capabilities, so hold tight!

The App Store Blues

The Gruveo app awaiting review in the App StoreWe have submitted the Gruveo iOS app to App Store almost a month ago, and, frankly, we expected it to be live for a while by now.

Well, things haven’t quite worked out that way. To start with, the approval process for that first version took full 21 days, which is extraordinary even by the App Store standards.

And then, our app got rejected because of a tiny crash that we had overlooked.

Fortunately, our beta testers made us aware of the crash ahead of Apple so we lost minimal time fixing the bug and resubmitting the app. We resubmitted last week and are now anxiously awaiting that “Ready for Sale” status! (Don’t worry, the app will be free, it’s just how Apple puts it.)

On the Bright Side…

On the bright side of things, the App Store approval delay gave us enough time to make sure that Gruveo works perfectly on the new iOS 8 and looks just as great on iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

We have also spent some time improving our web app. In particular, there was a pesky bug with camera muting under certain conditions in a call between Chrome and Firefox. It’s fixed now.

Finally, Gruveo got its first mention on Forbes last week, which makes us super-excited!

We hope to be able to share more good news very soon 😉 Thank you for using Gruveo and stay tuned!

iOS App Screenshots

As promised, here are some screenshots of the upcoming Gruveo app for iOS. The app is still undergoing review but we hope to be able to announce the release date very soon. Enjoy!

iOS App Update: Encryption Matters

Good news! We have submitted the Gruveo iOS app to the App Store this weekend, and it is currently awaiting review. Fingers crossed for a speedy approval!

If there is one thing we learned during the submission process, it is that governments take encryption pretty seriously. Due to Gruveo encrypting all of your calls, we actually had to apply for a permission from the US government to make the app available worldwide. (This is because the app will reside on Apple’s US servers, and whenever someone downloads it from abroad, “export of encryption technology” will take place.) Thankfully, we managed to get the permission very quickly.

Things turned out to be different with the French government. France has very stringent laws for importing encryption products. Making an encryption-related app available in France involves mailing quite a bit of paperwork around (in French), and then waiting one to four months for authorization.

Unfortunately, this means that the Gruveo iOS app will not be available in the French App Store at launch. We will do everything possible to release it in France as soon as possible though.

Be on a lookout for the first screenshots of our shiny new iOS app!

Gruveo Security Explained

We at Gruveo take our users’ privacy and security very seriously. In this blog post, we’d like to share some details on the technology behind Gruveo and the security and privacy measures we have in place.

The Gruveo Technology

Gruveo uses WebRTC for all video and voice calls made using its platform. WebRTC is a free, open technology that enables web browsers with Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities.

Gruveo uses the browser’s implementation of the WebRTC engine and operates it via the high-level JavaScript APIs exposed by the browser. As such, Gruveo has no way of compromising the internal workings of WebRTC, including its security stack.

Is WebRTC Secure?

WebRTC is often described by the industry professionals as the most secure VoIP solution out there.

WebRTC specification requires that all transferred data – audio, video and custom application payloads – must be encrypted end to end while in transit. This is achieved by employing the following protocols:

  • Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) is used to negotiate the secret keys for encrypting media data and for secure transport of application data via SCTP.
  • Secure Real-Time Transport (SRTP) is used to transport audio and video streams.
  • Secure Real-time Control Transport Protocol (SRTCP) is used for delivery of sender and receiver statistics and control information for an SRTP flow.
  • Stream Control Transport Protocol (SCTP) is used to transport application data on top of the established DTLS tunnel.

DTLS is a privacy protocol that is very similar to TLS (SSL), but with a minimal number of modifications to make it compatible with the UDP transport used by WebRTC. DTLS enables a secure data channel between peers that cannot be tampered with. No eavesdropping or message forgery can occur on a DTLS encrypted connection.

SRTP is a secure variant of the standardized format for delivery of real-time data, such as audio and video over IP networks. SRTP media cannot be decrypted by a third party thus ensuring that IP communications across the Internet remain private. In other words, SRTP ensures that WebRTC voice and video traffic will not be heard or seen by unauthorized parties.

Finally, WebRTC is a peer-to-peer technology where calls are established directly between the peers’ devices for lower latency and added security. In some situations, a peer-to-peer call cannot be established and the call data has to travel through the Gruveo’s servers. However, DTLS and SRTP ensure that the call contents cannot be decrypted on the server even in such a scenario.

Text Messaging Security

All text messages on Gruveo are relayed via Gruveo’s secure servers. The messages are relayed to and from client endpoints in encrypted form using TLS (SSL) as part of the WebSocket Secure (WSS) protocol.

Other Important Considerations

The Gruveo website is only accessible via the secure HTTPS protocol.

Endpoint security is out of Gruveo’s control. For example, we cannot detect or prevent a virus running on a client machine from recording the user’s communications, on Gruveo or otherwise.

All Gruveo users are encouraged to choose longer, non-trivial codes for connecting to ensure against a random third party joining under the same code before the intended counterpart does.

Once a call between two parties has been established on Gruveo, no one else can connect to it, even if they enter the same code. Anyone connecting under the same code while you are talking will get a “busy code” message.

We hope that this has been helpful in understanding how Gruveo protects your privacy and security. If you have more questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us right away.

Gruveo Codes Get Human Touch with Letters Now Allowed

Gruveo codes have been numeric ever since we launched the service last year. The main reason was that we felt there was a smaller chance for error when you had to tell someone a Gruveo code verbally.

However, we quickly discovered that there were issues with numeric codes. First, they are hard to remember. Second, they carry no emotional charge, which further contributes to problem #1. And third, lots of new Gruveo users confuse them with telephone numbers that they can somehow “dial”.

Today, we are addressing these issues by allowing Gruveo codes to contain letters as well as numbers. This means that instead of using a faceless “10910” for a call with your friend Joe, you can go for “joe79”, “joesmith” or even “justchillin” as your code.

The new Gruveo codes may contain letters but they don’t have to. So if all-numeric codes is what you are used to, there is no need to change anything.

Gruveo us on #funkybanana, anyone? 🙂

Thank You!

Wow! The past couple of days have been really crazy over here at Gruveo. Shortly after the Gruveo 2.0 launch, the story was picked by a number of major media outlets across the world and we’re currently going through a massive traffic spike. This is what we call a “Lifehacker test” for our servers – thankfully, they are coping just fine.

Over just the past three days, people from 72 countries used Gruveo to make their “world’s easiest” video call. The story about Gruveo landing on Android has been retweeted over 800 times.

But what’s really important to us is this…

Feedback like this is the best possible payoff for the months of hard work we spent developing Gruveo 2.0. This is what keeps us pushing forward to bring the world’s easiest video calls to everyone. And make no mistake, there is even more exciting stuff coming this summer 🙂

Thank you very much for making it all happen!

Hello Android: The New Gruveo Is Live

The big day has finally come and Gruveo 2.0 is live! Starting today, you can make the world’s easiest video calls on desktop and Android. Try it right now:

Click here for the new Gruveo

Just agree with the other person on a code, enter it on Gruveo and you’re talking. As before, all Gruveo calls are secure, anonymous and require no installs or registration. And check out that call quality – we think you will be pleasantly surprised 🙂

But Wait… There’s One More Thing!

Before you dive in and take Gruveo 2.0 for a ride, there is just one thing we’d like to ask you.

We worked hard to make Gruveo 2.0 happen, and now we need your help. Please spread the word about the new Gruveo! Tweet about it, post about it on Facebook or simply make Gruveo an excuse to call an old friend.

Enjoy – and thank you for being a part of this!