Getting started with the OpenTok iOS SDK

The OpenTok iOS SDK lets you use OpenTok video sessions in apps you build for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch devices. This means you can use OpenTok video sessions that connect iOS users with each other and with web clients.

The OpenTok iOS SDK uses the same platform architecture and concepts that are used in the OpenTok JavaScript library and the OpenTok ActionScript library. However, you code iOS apps in Objective-C.

This article will explain the most basic parts of the OpenTok iOS SDK. It will also show how the functionality and concepts used in the OpenTok iOS SDK are shared in the OpenTok JavaScript and ActionScript library.

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Using video customer support on our launch day

When I tell someone that we make an API for video chat, I always ask, “Can you think of a use case?”

Every time, without fail, I get the same response: “So… like for video customer service?”

In practice, few companies we’ve spoken to get excited about video customer service. It’s hard to see what value video brings in most support scenarios. Do customers really need or want to see the person on the other end? Are customers comfortable on camera? Is it worth the overhead for reps to be manning a video support queue? We aren’t sure.

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Downloading archives

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.

A few weeks ago we were very excited to release our archiving feature to a wider audience. Now a video conversation is no longer a fleeting moment in time, but something that can be recorded and played back.

What we noticed however was that people wanted a bit more then just having the ability to record and play back archives. Our partners want to take ownership of the individual videos, to modify them, and to more easily share them with family, friends and their own end-users.

What to do?

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The good, the bad, and the…beautiful

It’s been an exciting few weeks for video quality. In the world of the wild, wild web (www), a stranger riding into town could be good, bad, or something else…

That’s what we thought here at TokBox when Adobe Flash Player 11 galloped into the land of OpenTok last week. From a distance, the stranger looked like a bandit, triggering an old hardware acquisition bug that threatened to break the OpenTok API. But we squashed that bug right quick. After the dust settled, we realized that Flash 11 was actually one of the good guys. There was a new sheriff in town—and Flash 11 was gonna use his H.264 revolver to bring justice and a new dawn for OpenTok video quality. Thanks to Flash 11, the OpenTok API now offers beautiful images that are clearer, crisper, and sharper than ever before.

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Peer to Peer Video has arrived!

Here at TokBox we’re always trying to find ways to improve the quality of your video experience.  We’ve pushed out H.264 support with the new Flash Player 11 plugin. We’re learning how to pump more bits down the same bandwidth pipe to make sure your video is clear and crisp. And now, we are excited to enable Peer to Peer video for two party video chats.

What exactly is Peer to Peer (P2P)?

Traditional OpenTok sessions stream video via our servers. With P2P,  participants stream video directly to each other, resulting in better video quality!

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Archiving & TokBooth are here!

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.

It’s a big day here at TokBox.   We’re launching the public beta of two related products: archiving in the OpenTok API and the TokBooth plug-n-play app for recording video messages.  As product manager of the OpenTok platform, it’s a huge deal for me. I’m incredibly proud of our team for pulling it off.

Why? I know from personal experience that this has been the #1 most requested feature from our developers and end-users. When I started at TokBox as an engineer fresh out of school, lots of people were asking to record their video chats. When we repositioned the company around the OpenTok API, even more people started asking about archiving live video conversations. And now we’re making that possible.

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Using OpenTok apps on Mac OS X Lion 10.7

Following the release of OS X Lion on Wednesday, Adobe Flash Player has had a series of compatibility issues with Apple’s new OS. The big problem for fans of OpenTok apps? You’re unable to click “allow” or “deny” on the Adobe Flash pop-up that appears before you join a video call.

Until the official Adobe & Apple fix is released, there are a few steps you’ll need to follow to make OpenTok powered apps work:

1) Open System Preferences
2) Open Flash Player from “Other”
3) Click on Camera and Mic
4) Click on Camera and Mic Settings by site…
5) Set static.opentok.com to allow

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OpenTok now supports echo-cancellation

Several factors deeply impact the experience one has in a group or one-one video chat conversation. There exists a vast body of literature analyzing the various human factors impacting interpersonal communication, via a computer, such as affinity, commitment and attention. Human-Computer interaction experts, social scientists and computer researchers have studied the various dimensions which make the subjective experience of people participating in a conversation compelling.

Audio quality is one such critical component.

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*Snap*, *snap*, *snap* with OpenTok

One of our first partner applications took OpenTok videos and turned them into a virtual photo booth. Meet me under the MistleToe is one of our favorites here at TokBox. They were one of our early users of the AS3 library, which gives developers a little more power because they can access the video feeds and do really fun things with them.

We didn’t want our JS developers to be left out in the cold, and so we’ve added video stream snapshot functionality to the OpenTok API. What would one use snapshots for you ask?

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Using signals to pass real-time data

Problem

You are developing a multi-user OpenTok application and you need a way to pass data between user in real-time.

Solution

Use Session.signal() to notify user when there is new data on the server to be retrieved.

Tutorial Overview

In this tutorial I will show you how to implement this solution by creating a simple chat app that uses OpenTok signals to pass data between users in an OpenTok session. The app will allow connected users to communicate through both video chat and text chat.

I will use Rails for the backend portion of the app, however this technique can be applied to any server-side technology. I also use jQuery for DOM manipulation and AJAX and the OT_LayoutContainer class created and explained in this blog post for managing the layout of the video streams.

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