Today we’re announcing new Intelligent Quality Controls in the OpenTok platform. To catch everyone up, Intelligent Quality Controls are the features and enhancements we’re developing to make sure that each participant in a video call has the best possible experience.
Update (Nov 25): Developers, check out our new blog post that provides details on using dynamic frame rate controls.
You may recall that over the summer we launched traffic shaping for the audio-only fallback feature. This feature drops video in low bandwidth situations to prevent a participant with poor QOS from dragging down the video quality for everyone else. Essentially, we built the automatic (video) mute button for “that guy on his cell phone in a convertible!”
Connectivity, we at TokBox believe, is one of the cornerstones of real-time communication applications. So we are happy to announce that we now support TURN over TCP.
There are several technologies which are used to help establish connectivity in WebRTC. The first mechanism is using a protocol called STUN. STUN uses a ping-pong mechanism to find the public IP of a client end-point so that a peer-to-peer session can be established and one can traverse a firewall. While this is useful in a number of scenarios, there are cases where one could be behind symmetric NATs, where STUN does not suffice. TURN helps in these cases. TURN is a mechanism by which real-time media can be relayed through a TURN server to punch through firewalls. OpenTok seamlessly supports STUN and TURN so a developer doesn’t have to worry about how to setup up these servers, scale them, establish connectivity etc.
In the last year we’ve witnessed VP8 proponents and H.264 proponents debate which codec should become “official” for WebRTC. The main points of contention? Licensing fees associated with H.264 make it unaffordable for a non-profits like Mozilla to support. In addition, VP8 isn’t compatible with existing and legacy video conferencing platforms which are typically built to support H.264.
We saw Google draw a line in the sand early on by announcing the “perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, no-charge, royalty-free, irrevocable” licensing of VP8. In addition, they recently moved their flagship video conferencing product, Google Hangouts, on to VP8.
Yesterday, Cisco unexpectedly announced that they will release an open-source version of the H.264 codec. The open-source version will include a free downloadable binary module that can be integrated into any application. All without the cost of licensing the codec . This is a strategic precursor to the IETF #88 next week where a vote will take place about the MTI (mandatory to implement) video codec for WebRTC, with the dominant front-runners being VP8 and H264.
As we announced on August 29, today TokBox introduced new pricing for the OpenTok platform. Please take a moment to check out the new pricing section of our website: http://tokbox.com/pricing.
Our new pricing starts with a 30 day free trial during which we hope developers check out everything the OpenTok platform has to offer.
Customer who wish to continue working with the OpenTok platform after the trial period can do so by entering credit card info in the account’s dashboard – or by contacting business development (firstname.lastname@example.org) for invoicing information.
In April we announced our new Mantis multi-party infrastructure for Web RTC was available for pre-production trials. Since that time, hundreds of customers have logged minutes against our new infrastructure, powering multi-party OpenTok calls around the world.
We’re seeing customers connect foreign language students from across the world, build classrooms of sizes well past what off the shelf WebRTC could support, and experience more stability and quality in their multi-party conversations.
You could consider Mantis to be a media router, but in reality it is so much more than that. As the OpenTok platform grows and evolves to better solve the use cases our customers are building, the Mantis infrastructure is going to allow us to deliver a level of quality (starting with our traffic shaping algorithms that we released in June), product enhancements (such as archiving), and other capabilities that will take WebRTC to a new level.
At TokBox, we aim to push boundaries and deliver the best possible WebRTC-enabled experience for application developers building face-to-face video applications. One of our guiding architectural philosophies has been to provide the right primitives for developers to build rich and powerful applications. In addition, we want to make sure we abstract the underlying nuts and bolts and enable the cloud service to dynamically react to changing environmental conditions (bandwidth, packet-loss, etc.) in order to deliver the best possible experience.
The multiparty stream routing component of the OpenTok platform is also capable of shaping traffic in real time. Let’s take a look at how this this capability delivers a significantly improved quality of experience for users.
A few weeks ago on September 6, 2013, a thousand students congregated at UPenn from all over the world, laptops out and ready to code. It was one of the largest student run hackathon in history. Out of the thousand, 4 sophomore students from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) rose up to the top to win the “Best Hack That Makes Life So Easy” prize by Venmo, “Best Cloud-Connected Hack” prize by Microsoft, and our prize, “Best Use of TokBox API”.
Today, we’re really pleased to be introducing application-level signaling for our WebRTC implementation of OpenTok across both Web and iOS platforms.
Over the last two years, OpenTok has continued to break ground as a live video platform.
As we’ve watched use cases evolve from basic social chat all the way up to supporting complex customer support calls, we’ve also discovered that partners need more than just live video communications – they need a way to orchestrate and communicate between the application endpoints. So today, we are exposing our signaling layer to OpenTok 2.0 developers so that you can piggyback on the distributed, scaled infrastructure that’s been proven to work over the last two years.
WebRTC is clearly a hot topic. But in an effort to discover just how hot we conducted what we think is one of the largest global surveys of its kind. Today, we are pleased to share the results with all of you in the TokBox and greater WebRTC community.
The study, which analyzed responses from 1,161 people across 11 countries, found rapidly emerging interest amongst larger organisations (1,000+ employees), and also found rapid WebRTC adoption amongst smaller companies (fewer than 500 employees) where more than one in four (27.1%) developers say WebRTC is already critical to their work.
Some of the other key findings:
The capabilities of WebRTC in the Google Chrome browser continue to grow, and some pretty major bugs are squashed. The biggest news for us at TokBox is that Chrome for Android now supports WebRTC out of the box without needing to enable a flag. This expands the footprint of endpoints with WebRTC capability to include Android devices which is a great step forward.
Now, on to the details