OpenTok on WebRTC: Offering the technology of tomorrow, today

I am very excited today to announce our first major product release since being acquired by Telefónica Digital (@tefdigital) only two weeks ago.  While we’re not in the habit of tooting our own horn, we’re pretty darn pleased with this release and what it means for the future.

Today we are releasing OpenTok on WebRTC, the first solution for developers that brings high quality face-to-face video straight out of the box to Google’s Chrome 23 and, perhaps even more of a breakthrough, the first to support WebRTC on iOS.

This newest release of OpenTok leverages WebRTC and native websockets,  and marries high-quality audio/video with our own high-performance and highly scalable Rumor messaging framework, It does this at the same time as reducing client weight and driving faster connection startup times. You can experience it firsthand here.

What does all this mean? As a developer you can use OpenTok to take advantage of WebRTC on laptop and desktop machines as well as in native iPad and iPhone applications.  And your applications can freely interoperate across device and browser boundaries. It will run faster and deliver higher quality video.

If you’re an existing OpenTok developer, and your codebase uses our basic features, it’s extremely likely your application can be WebRTC-powered simply by changing the client library to which your code points.  No muss, no fuss, no bother at all.

Being the first to bring you reliable and scalable WebRTC solutions has long been our goal. In fact, two years ago, when we were building the first version of OpenTok, we knew that Flash was just a stepping-stone.  We had a vision of a native HTML5 implementation of OpenTok that wouldn’t depend on downloads or the use of Flash containers.  We believed that new A/V and message transports would become available, and that our job was to keep bringing you those improvements as transparently as possible.

Today, our developer community gets immediate benefit from that strategy.

But there’s more to gain from OpenTok than just WebRTC support.  Over the last two years, we’ve learned a lot about what developers need when connecting two or more browsers together with face-to-face video.  And we know that while WebRTC delivers fantastic quality improvements over Flash, it just doesn’t provide the end-to-end functionality and service needed to deliver production applications by itself.

Just as we started planning two years ago for today, we are already planning for the future. We expect industry adoption of WebRTC to expand; we’ll be adding support for OpenTok on WebRTC as fast as we can.  We also expect the number of devices and endpoints to continue to grow, and as that happens you can expect to see us there as well.

So while we’re proud of today’s launch, it’s just the first step on our march into a post-Flash world, and I want to take a moment to reflect and also thank you.

We’ve been on quite a journey.  There have been plenty of breakthroughs and successes – such as today’s announcement – and there have been some tough times, for which we apologize.

Through it all we never forget that we started life as a direct-to-consumer service so we know the challenges and pressures you face.  Our job now is to make face to face video easy for developers, no matter what the use case, device or last mile connection. Solving this problem has required the building of a platform and operating a service, not simply delivering a server or publishing a standard.

And there is plenty more to come. I’m more sure than ever that if you need face-to-face video in your application, OpenTok is the way to do it.  Because as the industry grows, and adoption grows, we remember our roots and we are mindful of the challenge. We are committed to staying one step ahead so you have no surprises or unnecessary disruption worries. We’re getting better every day and the next six months are going to be full of awesome (or as we like to call it around here, some genuine awesometicity).

Back to today. With OpenTok on WebRTC, we are taking our platform and service to the next level.  We are increasing audio/video quality.  Increasing standards compliance.  And with iOS, we are continuing to push the envelope of what is possible.  I really encourage each of you – whether you’re just experimenting with OpenTok, or are already in production with us – to give it a try.  Get started here.

  • Jamie Finn

    Awesome job guys. Can’t wait to use it in some of the TU stuff.

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  • Corey Gwin

    Congrats! This is awesome news. WebRTC is definitely going to change the web. Happy to learn alongside your guidance.

    • Ankur Oberoi

      Thanks Corey! We’ll be sure to post some interesting tutorials and demos using WebRTC in the coming weeks so feel free to drop by the blog to learn more.

  • Johnny

    WebRTC is great but it will take few years for other browsers to accept this tech. What the point in making web apps on WebRTC if only Chrome is support it 🙁 So talk to you in few years!

    • Ian Small

      Our assessment of the market is that effective browser penetration will move significantly faster than you expect. That, along with our mobile support, will create a broad swatch of support. Time will tell, of course.

      In the meantime, you’re more than welcome to use our original OpenTok stack, which doesn’t rely on WebRTC in browser or mobile implementations!

      • Fernando Martinelli

        Hi Ian, can you give us a link or more info about your “original OpenTok stack”? That would interest me. Thanks

        • Janine

          Hey Fernando – that refers to the Flash stack which I believe you’re already familiar with. Let us know if you have more questions!

  • Chirag

    Fantastic. Have been waiting for it and am happy to march forward with it. Keep up the good work!

    • Janine

      Thanks for your support Chirag!!

  • Steve

    Does this new JS library fallback to the flash method for browsers that don’t support webRTC? or will you need to browser test and serve the correct library… Also, if that is the case, will webRTC users be able to be in the same session as non webRTC (flash) members?

    • Ankur Oberoi

      Hey Steve,

      There is no automatic fallback right now. An earlier version of our Labs releases did support fallback from WebRTC -> Flash, but we decided doing without that helped to get the technology out there sooner and see how our developers actually used it. That fallback would detect if any single client that was connected didn’t support WebRTC, then all connected clients would fallback to Flash, and therefore they were all in the same session. Sessions were not mixed. Right now the way to achieve this is exactly what you said: feature detect and load the appropriate library. Stay tuned, new features like this may land pretty soon as we learn more about users.

      • Steve

        Ok, thats sounds cool. But if we have a room/meeting, can you have the flash users (servered the normal v 1.1 JS library) and the webRTC users (served the new webrtc/v2.0 JS library) all talking on the same session id? or will there be webRTC only session id’s and older flash session id’s ?

        • Ankur Oberoi

          Session IDs work across both libraries, but you cannot communicate with users that are not using the same JS library as you.

  • Guest

    Are you still charging the same rates for WebRTC usage, since the bandwidth from the video chat is no longer touching your servers?

    • Ankur Oberoi

      Great question. The pricing is the same as before, but thats not to say we are ripping anyone off because our bandwidth cost disappeared. The strategy for doing multiparty calls still involves streaming to a server. If it didn’t each connected client would need N times the upload bandwidth available to stream p2p to N other users, this is clearly unacceptable. Without revealing too much, we’ve got this case in mind as we build more features into our WebRTC stack.

  • Paul

    Exciting news! We just posted a nice blog post about OpenTok and WebRTC assessment. Hope you enjoy it.

    • Ankur Oberoi

      Thanks Paul, that writeup is wonderfully done. We just tweeted it 🙂

    • Song Zheng

      Loved the breakdown of the different companies and the features that each of them provides.

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  • Roby S Miller

    Does this go for Android too?

    • Ankur Oberoi

      Hey Roby,

      Not quite yet. We are working on an alpha version of the Andorid OpenTok SDK that you can try out over on github: It doesn’t support WebRTC yet, but we’re really excited about getting there too.

  • Pingback: The WebRTC Revolution – Part 2 | Kokonaut Labs

  • hire ipad developer

    The first remedy for designers that delivers top high quality face-to-face movie directly out of the box to Google’s Firefox 23 and, perhaps even more of a cutting-edge, the first to back up WebRTC on iOS.