OpenTok web development projects

Tokbox Development

Monday, 3 December 2018

A lot of people have heard of OpenTok, however, many are unsure about what it actually is and how it works. OpenTok is the API owned by the Platform as a Service company TokBox. If you already know about OpenTok then I suggest you skip to the next paragraph.

In a nutshell, OpenTok enables the use of live video, voice and messaging on websites and mobile apps through a cloud platform for individuals or companies. It enables individuals or businesses to have real conversations with their customers, through an engaging and meaningful experience. It can be used on a one to one basis, in groups, using any browser, any mobile device across firewalls and to record calls. OpenTok API is free, however, you do need to pay a fee if three or more people are going to be involved in the video call.

There are many organisations that have utilised OpenTok, some examples include Babylon, Net Medical Xpress, Coutts, Bridgestone GOLF, Livewire, Live ninja, Roll20. Go to the TokBox website and you will see many more examples, ranging across a diverse multitude of industry types.

How much does it cost?

There is no point covering all the pricing options, I will just state that the starting point is US$9.99 a month (as of this blog) and that includes the first 2000 streamed minutes. For a comprehensive pricing policy that you can tier to your needs please use the following link

What are the system requirements?

OpenTok has platforms for JavaScript, Android and iOS. Their recommendation is that you should have at least 300kbps streaming ability for videoing and at least 50kbps for audio. These are their lowest recommended levels. On a personal note, I would be hesitant to state using these low streaming speeds that you would not encounter any communication issues. The video resolutions allow for up to 1280 x 720, however, you can also create your own customisable resolutions to suit your requirements.  

So why should you use OpenTok and who are their main competitors?

  • First of all, we will look at some of the advantages of using this platform for inclusion on your website.
  • There are no downloads, installation or updates required, it is integrated into the website. You can communicate immediately with your potential customers.
  • No need for prior knowledge or good computer skills is required, virtually anyone who can turn on a PC should be able to use it. Very simple to use.
  • OpenTok offers cross-platform functionality, seamlessly working on the web, desktop and mobile devices.
  • There is no sharing of any credentials, this does not only encourage people to use this medium, it also removes potential security breaches.
  • It is a scalable, customisable platform that provides great developer freedom.
  • It has the ability for high volumes usage.
  • Impressive documentation, support and solutions are available online. Take a look at the developer guides as an example of the extensive library of tools available to help.

Why use Video messaging?

There are numerous reasons why individuals or businesses might want to use OpenTok, below are some of the main motivations:

  • Communicate with potential clients and customers
  • For businesses to communicate internally with other offices
  • Employee and executive communication
  • IT and helpdesk
  • For business activities such as FitSwarm

Is security an issue?

OpenTok takes security very seriously and they would be stupid not to. One of the great features of OpenTok is that they don’t collect user data, with all information they remove identifying particulars or details. All media that is streamed uses AES-256 for secure and safe encryption, they also incorporate HTTPS functionality, secure RHP, WebSockets etc. If you want to know more about their security policies and GDRP compliance procedure you can download their datasheet here.

Are there any alternatives to OpenTok?

There are numerous alternatives to OpenTok, some we feel are good and others not so good. Please find a list of ‘alternatives’ below, they are not mentioned in any particular order.

  • Plivo
  • Sightcall
  • Twilio
  • Skype
  • HeyWire
  • Nexmo
  • MessageBird
  • ezTALKS Meetings
  • Vsee
  • Facebook Messenger
  • SendBird

At ID Studio we have a lot of experience working with this platform, having successfully integrated OpenTok in numerous websites for our clients. We love it because we find it very simple to use, there is no need for prior knowledge or computing skills, it is highly scalable with the ability to accommodate high usage volumes backed up with great support.

A recent example of web design we have created using OpenTok is FitSwarm. FitSwarm is a real-time fitness training for instructors and members, offering live sessions using OpenTok to deliver world-renowned fitness instructors to members for training throughout the world.

If you have any questions or would like to talk over a potential OpenTok project, please give me a call or fire off an email.

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