OpenTok iOS SDK : Behind the Scenes

We’ve been working on this project for a few months and are pretty excited to showcase how it’s made and what it can be made to do. I’d like to share some stories that happened along the way.

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Live. In your app. Face-to-face on iOS

Today, we are changing the face of iOS applications.

With the introduction of the OpenTok iOS SDK, we are bringing the power, emotion and engagement of face-to-face video to legions of Objective-C developers and to the apps they build.

15 months ago, we started a journey towards making face-to-face video a first-class citizen on the web. Between our developer-facing APIs and our end-user-targeted plug-and-play applications, OpenTok has brought life to more than 40,000 websites.

From day 1, we never thought that OpenTok was limited to the web — the web was just a good place to start. Face-to-face is all about making digital experiences more human. And what’s more human these days than the fluid, physical interfaces to smartphone and tablet apps? They are the perfect complement to the increased engagement, emotion and connectedness that face to face video brings to the party.

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Startup Riot MAKE in Atlanta

This past weekend I got to travel down south for a pretty sweet event, Startup Riot MAKE. Startup Riot has been hosting a week-long expo/conference in Atlanta for the last 2 years as well as one in Seattle. This year they decided to add a hackathon into the mix to warm people of for the upcoming week of festivities. The hackathon is called MAKE, and thats exactly what these hackers intended to do. No BS, its time to make something awesome.

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How I built Minute Grams: 3 Minute Tutorial

Update: March 13, 2014 – Please note that this blog post references the archiving functionality in our OpenTok 1.0 platform. This feature is no longer being supported. Learn more about archiving using our OpenTok 2.0 platform.

Minutegrams is a webapp to send video messages via email.
In this tutorial, let’s build a video recorder with the Tokbox API.


Step 1: Include tokbox javascript file

  • Let’s start with our html document, and add jquery and tokbox javascript library.
  • We need ‘rElement’ div to put our recorder in, and ‘pElement’ div to put player in.
<!DOCTYPE HTML>
<html lang="en">
<head>
    <meta charset="UTF-8">
    <title></title>
    <script type="text/javascript" src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery-1.7.1.min.js"></script>
    <script src="http://staging.tokbox.com/v0.91/js/TB.min.js"></script>
</head>
<body>
    <div id="rElement"></div>
    <div id="pElement"></div>
</body>
</html>

Step 2: Create a Tokbox recorder Manager object

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Trojan Hack Hackathon

Congratulations to all the USC Trojan and UCLA Bruin Hackers who participated in the Trojan Hack!

Over the 24 hours from Friday (2/3/12) to Saturday, UCLA and USC students got into groups and hacked away on their ideas. No limits, best idea and implementation wins…

Presentation slides were frowned upon, so everyone had a working demo at the end. The demos were AMAZING!

The first place ($1000) went to HackHackWith.me

In 24 hours, they built a collaborative code editing web app. Now you might think it’s like collabedit, but it’s NOT! You can actually upload project files and libraries, code together, and then run your code!

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Motilo Steps Up the Etailer Game

Folks love shopping online as evidenced most recently by the fact that almost $32 billion has been spent online this holiday season (and we still have two shopping days left). LuluLemon, Nordstroms and Sur La Table, I accept thank you notes

With so many eCommerce sites available today, etailers have to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd and offer truly memorable experiences; experiences that will not only motivate the customer to make the move from “add to cart” to “purchase”, but also keep them coming back for more.

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TokShow: You can do it, put your back-end into it

Our goal for the back end of the TokShow application was to make it as simple as possible while supporting a couple thousand people.

The biggest concern for performance was moving a new fan on stage. When that happens, everyone in the TokShow needs to hit the server to get the connection ID of the next fan. We thought the ‘aha’ moment of a fan meeting the artist for the first time would be a major part of the experience, so making the transition smooth and simultaneous for all of the viewers was critical.

To keep things simple, we used PHP and MySQL on the server. There is very little state saved for the application. We basically need to know:

  1. Who is on stage
  2. Who is in the line
  3. Whether the show has started yet
  4. What time the show is scheduled to start.

We had one PHP file to wrap our reads and writes to the server, and that’s about it. For our TokShows we needed only one PHP server, which also hosted the database.

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Building the HTML client for thev v OpenTok TokShow app

Building the TokShow app gave us another great opportunity to test our API in a real-world app. And, sure enough, we discovered some additions for the OpenTok API.

Not all clients using the app and participating in the session have the same audio-video capabilities. Some clients use older versions of Flash Player or hardware that does not support acoustic echo cancellation. The acoustic echo cancellation feature was added in OpenTok v0.91.18 (in June), and it works great. It pretty much eliminates acoustic audio feedback. We wanted to build an app that allowed the administrator to see if a potential participant (fan) had acoustic echo cancellation supported on their machine. However, the OpenTok API did not provide that information … so we added it. And the new API includes other information on the quality of each stream in the session. In addition to acoustic echo cancellation support, the API provides other information about the publisher of a stream, including the upstream bandwidth, whether the microphone and camera are enabled, and whether H.264 video is supported. These enhancements were added in the November 10 release of the OpenTok API (v0.91.35).

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TokShow: Building a large scale video comms platform

There are a number of huge challenges being a platform company, as the product we build has to work under many conditions. One of those major challenges is the issue of scaling a realtime communications platform to support both one-to-one conversations and also 5000+ participant talk shows. Now some people might say “Doesn’t YouTube already let thousands of people view a video?” Yes, but the difference is that YouTube is about consuming and OpenTok is about face-to-face.

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IncuBox: Take your App from Beta to Blast-off!

TokBox Launches IncuBox, a Developer Competition for University Students. Team with the best app using the OpenTok API receives premium mentorship, ownership of IP, plus the opportunity to present to VCs

San Francisco, CA – December 5, 2011 – TokBox, the company behind the OpenTok video platform, today announced IncuBox, a competition giving student app developers the opportunity to receive dedicated tutorial and assistance bringing their app to market.

The team that submits the best app using OpenTok’s online face-to-face technology will be invited to work out of TokBox’s San Francisco headquarters for eight weeks. They will work closely with TokBox’s elite development team, product managers, marketing team and other key players responsible for creating the OpenTok API from the ground up.

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