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Mobile developers wave “goodbye” to metered minutes

Say Goodbye to Metered Minutes!!For the past 100 or so years, we have been paying for every minute spent on our phones. Metered minutes for voice have long been the standard for growth of telecoms the world over.

Early purveyors of VoIP (Voice over IP) promised great things and many have built respectable businesses. Still, we hang onto the networks of old (PSTN) which come with baggage and metered minutes remain.

We are in a “mobile first” world now, where mobile messenger applications reign supreme eg. WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat etc. For good or for bad, these new chat apps are forever changing the way we think of communications. The next generation expects a certain level of service that comes for free, and that will become the new norm.

This new “free mobile communication” mantra can come at a price for providers.

Traditional VoIP networks are primarily built using client-server methodologies, which means the calls (signalling at least) and text messages pass through a server. That server must be hosted somewhere and that data transfer cost must be accounted for, somehow. More and more chat apps are supporting Voice and Video calls, the overhead involved in providing for those features on the back end is not trivial.

If there were a way to provide these features without having the calls and messages go through a server, it should be much cheaper (or free) to deliver those features to the users. P2P (peer to peer) communication services allow providers to cut costs and deliver rich communication features more affordably. We know this to be true because we have built countless VoIP networks on traditional client-server technology and also with P2P technology, in this case Open Peer.

Keep in mind a P2P-centric network does not take into consideration interoperability with the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network), so that I can call my mom and dad for instance.  From a smartphone users perspective, this is not much of a problem. Data / wifi networks are nearly boundless.  Just ask yourself “When was the last time you weren’t connected?” As a provider, the moment we bridge P2P with PSTN, we increase our costs enormously and lose all the rich features in the process.

Is there a way we get the benefits of P2P and still interoperate with the networks of yesterday?

If you want the real benefits that a Peer-to-Peer communications network will provide, you must get past the idea of interop with the PSTN. There are plenty of providers out there who refuse or simply cannot make the move to P2P due to their business model or the like and to you I say, “Very sorry for your troubles”.

The middle ground.

Leveraging P2P in your network where it makes sense (mobile) and using gateways to negotiate to the PSTN is certainly possible and we have helped network providers do just that. This helps them to prepare for an OTT (Over The Top) model that is more P2P centric and efficient while still servicing their customer of old.

When will metered minutes truly become a thing of the past? When the carriers wake up? God help us all.

If you are a modern mobile developer working on iOS or Android, you can say “goodbye” to metered minutes today.

Next Event: @RobinRaymond of Hookflash speaking @IIT_RTC_Conf #webrtc #ortc

IIT RTC Conference

This is hands down our favorite event of the year. IIT has produced a great “no bs” technical event. If you want to know what is happening inside the industry, you will want to attend this one. Excerpt from their website..

The IIT RTC Conference and Expo is a globally recognized collaborative event, where industry and academia connect. Leveraging its unique academic setting, this annual conference brings together technical professionals and business executives from the data and telecommunications industry, standards bodies, policy and regulatory institutions, and academic educators and researchers to promote an open exchange of ideas to lead future development in the rapidly changing field of real-time communications.

Robin Raymond will be speaking on a few topics:

  • Future of the Cloud with P2P (Peer-to-Peer) RTC (Real-Time Communication)
  • ORTC (Object Real-Time Communications) API Update
  • Delivering Real-Time Communications with Mobile

IIT RTC Conference Schedule: http://www.rtc-conference.com/conference-schedule-listings/

Hookflash for Android – Improved RTC Video Support

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We are always working hard to improve the tools we build for our developer partners and customers. Today we are happy to announce improved support for RTC (Real-time Communications) Video.

We’ve had video for a couple of weeks now but we held off on releasing it due to some lingering issues, until today. We have knocked down a few larger bugs (video and other aspects) in the last week and there are plenty more to come.  The Hookflash android reference app now has video calling capabilities as does the Hookflash / Open Peer android SDK.

 

Android reference app can be found here
iOS reference app can be found here

Developers sign up here

Improved support for Push Notifications on iOS and Android

In this update, notifications become more fluid and work across conversations on both iOS and Android.

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Real-time messaging on mobile requires “suspended application” support for notifying the user that a new message has arrived when the application is not in focus. Receiving a message as part of a conversation is not much good unless the user is aware the message exists. The push notification allows the user to understand that the message has been received when not looking at the application at the time the message arrives. This new release makes greater use of this functionality on both Android and iOS.

Android reference app can be found here.
iOS reference app can be found here.

Developers, add real-time messaging, voice and video to your app today! Sign up for free here: http://fly.hookflash.me/

Hookflash JavaScript API for Cordova / Phonegap on iOS

Today we are happy to announce availability of Hookflash for Cordova / PhoneGap (alpha).

Hookflash for Cordova - iOSNow Cordova / Phonegap developers can leverage the new Hookflash JS API via Open Peer Cordova Plugin to create RTC (Real-time Communications) applications for iOS quickly and easily.

Social identity & custom identity models are supported. Use our OAUTH API to integrate your own identity model.

JavascriptHTML5

Use HTML5 and JavaScript to add messaging, voice and video to existing Phonegap iOS applications, or build something new!

 

Free developer account, no credit card required, sign up here. The Cordova plugin can now be found in the Cordova plugin registry here.  The plugin source is available on Github.

 

Hookflash for Android

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Today we are shipping our android reference app, sdk and sdk sample app, now in alpha.

Our Hookflash SDK for Android is openly available on Github, today we are releasing a new sample app in code and a Hookflash reference app in the Play Store.

We have run preliminary tests between the iOS app in the iTunes App Store and Android app in the Play Store. Messaging & voice works well, video on iOS has been there for some time now. As you can see from the screenshot video still needs a bit of tweaking on android, as so it has been  temporarily disabled in the reference app.

We are looking forward to working with mobile developers on Android now in addition to iOS. Never has it been so easy to create a scalable mobile messenger with RTC (Real-time Communications) features that other messenger platforms would die for! So come and create something cool! Developers, join up and get started for free today!

Not a developer? No problem, we provide a white label service as well. Send us a note with your project ideas.

Most new mobile messenger apps are tied to age old oligopolies

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Name one popular messenger app that has launched in last 2 years that does not ask you for your mobile phone number when signing up. You will be hard pressed to do so. Ok, I might be exaggerating a wee bit but I think you get the point.

If we think about this for a minute it starts to sound a bit odd. New messaging apps mandate that you have a mobile number where you can receive a SMS message so you can join their OTT (Over The Top) community? That’s a bit weird isn’t it? Why not ask them to sign in with identities not tied to a cell phone? Email is certainly more prolific than connected cell phones, right?

So, why is this?

Onboarding is the process used to describe bringing a new user from the discovery process to an active user inside the app/service.

Our smartphone OSs (android, iOS) have made it very easy for devs to take the user’s mobile number and entire address book and upload that to their cloud, which most apps do today. Once in the cloud that data can be used to connect you with others that have done the same thing. Depending on your level of paranoia this can get a bit creepy or you have simply accepted it as the new normal.

To replicate the simplicity of this onboarding process in other forms is not so easy and not near as effective, it would seem.

Other developers defer to the largest social networks as a method for authenticating users, we have done this for our reference apps. Although, there have been plenty of reasons why users may not be interested in signing into your app using their social identity; privacy issues, hijacked accounts to name a couple. Also, why would you as a developer hand over your entire user base to a social network?

Virality is how easily the app spreads through the network.  If the virality of your app hits a point where users are simply adding the app to keep up with their buddies, network effect kicks in, but that generally does not happen for the majority of the apps produced.

SMS messages have a much higher open rate than email and other forms of messaging, for various reasons, which makes SMS a great way to send app invites. It’s also dead easy for the app vendor to enable. If you are on a mobile phone, the dev need not come up with a 3rd party system to send invites, they just use your phone’s own capabilities to send the invites. Less expense for them, open rates increase due to the fact that it looks like its coming from you.

Social messaging has abysmal open rates. Much of the time Social Messages relies on notifications and push messages that are usually ignored or turned off by the user, current company included.

So what options do devs have when creating a messenger app or messenger feature in a app (text messaging, real-time voice or video) where we do not want to rely on phone companies for that initial base of users?

Why not a combination of all the above?

The future lies within federated identity models that allow your users to sign in with whatever ID they prefer and communicate without being pigeon holed into handing over their phone number if they do not feel comfortable doing so.

Developers have their reasons for choosing one ID model versus another, some reasons I have captured in this article. Thankfully, there is no reason to force users into making choices they are not comfortable making. Supporting multiple IDs in a federated model that will allow your LinkedIn authenticated user to communicate with the Phone number authenticated users, exists today.

Imagine a world  where devs can tie custom IDs (your own 3rd party ID model) to social and traditional IDs like phone numbers to electrify a mobile communications paradise. A world where we need not hand the keys of the entire user base over to a social network.

Yep, its real, if you want more information, send us a note we’ll be happy to fill you in.

 

PS. If you feel compelled to weigh in on Net Neutrality and safeguarding the Open Internet, its not too late. Do so here: Email Chairman Tom Wheeler at the FCC, some of the recent comments of the more than 650,000 comments already received.

RTC (Real-time Communications) iOS SDK Update & Hookflash API Pricing

Open Peer - Mobile RTC ToolkitNew releases of Hookflash RTC (real-time communications) mobile toolkits for iOS and Android are now available.

For leading mobile developers, customers and partners; Hookflash mobile toolkits provide an easy, cost effective way to integrate a choice of real-time Text Messaging, High-Quality Voice and Video Chat directly into mobile applications, adding scalable, private, valuable communications functionality for customers and user communities.

“The Hookflash iOS Software Development Kit and accompanying sample app is a stable beta release ready for early customers to integrate into their own apps or to white label.” says Erik Lagerway, Co-founder at Hookflash. “Hookflash Cloud Service beta release is home to more than 275 developers from all across the globe, building interesting and exciting apps ranging from enterprise mobile to banking, gaming and medical applications. I am always excited to hear about how our technology is being leveraged in new ways, it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning!”

Hookflash Mobile Software Development Kits and the Hookflash Cloud Service API are available free of charge (see commercial pricing below) for development, testing and non-commercial purposes (no Credit Card required on signup). If you are a non-profit enterprise organization or recognized charity, contact us, we’d like to help you communicate better for free.

Commercial pricing for the Hookflash Cloud Service API is now also available. See Pricing for details.

Hookflash is setting a new standard in the world of telecommunications; offering API transactional pricing for Voice and Video traffic. Traditionally, until now, Voice and Video calls have been charged on a metered, per minute basis. The Hookflash pricing model provides what leading developers, service providers and enterprise customers expect and require from modern APIs.

At $0 .001 (1/10 of 1 cent) per API call Hookflash enables integrated high quality messaging, voice and video chat for developers and enterprise customers in a way that has not been available until now.

“Hookflash is doing for real-time communications what Amazon Web Services (AWS) has done for Cloud Services, metered minutes are a thing of the past, the future of Real-time Communications is in API services and pricing models that scale” explained Trent Johnsen, CEO.

A Hookflash reference app built on the Hookflash Mobile SDK, “Hookflash Messenger” integrated with Facebook as an example of directory and identity is available in the  iTunes App store here.

A Hookflash Android reference app will follow soon. The Hookflash Android RTC SDK is available now in early beta, with limited documentation.

The previous reference application, “Hookflash for iPad” with LinkedIn directory and identity features has been removed from the iTunes app store to make way for the latest iOS reference application.

Developer sign up: http://fly.hookflash.me
Open Peer RTC iOS toolkit: https://github.com/openpeer/opios
Open Peer RTC Android toolkit (early beta): https://github.com/openpeer/opandroid
Developer documentation: http://docs.hookflash.com

About: Hookflash powers a new generation of integrated, Open, Over-the-Top, Internet messaging, voice and video chat for Mobile and the Web with the new standard for secure signalling and identity; Open Peer.

For additional information please visit Hookflash.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Hookflash.

1-855-Hookflash (466-5352)  or “info@hookflash.com”.

Hookflash Advances Enterprise Real-time Communications for Web and Mobile with ORTC

Vancouver BC, Canada (PRWEB) November 01, 2013

Hookflash joins over 20 technology companies and thought leaders from around the globe this Sunday, November 3, 2013, to review “ORTC” the new Object RTC API (Object Real-Time Communications Application Programming Interface). Hookflash Chief Architect Robin Raymond will provide an introduction and overview of the new ORTC API, as well as demos and sample application reviews. This event will be streamed live: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ortc-live.

“The work that Hookflash is doing on the Object Real-time Communications API (ORTC) positions them at the forefront of WebRTC,” comments Microsoft executive Albert Kooiman, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Lync. “ORTC is a very appealing approach for developers looking to produce interoperable WebRTC applications quickly, by presenting a simpler and more familiar Javascript Object model that leverages the skills of mainstream web developers, instead of the more complex Offer/Answer approach. To see open source code that enables this is real progress. We believe that ORTC (and the establishment of the W3C ORCA Community Group to evolve it) is a major step forward and we support Hookflash in their efforts.”

The W3C Object RTC (ORCA) Community Grouphttp://www.w3.org/community/orca/ was formed in July 2013 to develop an alternative JavaScript API for real-time communications by a group of people looking for alternatives to SDP Offer/Answer in WebRTC. The Community Group published its first draft specification on October 11, 2013.

Hookflash Co-founder, Erik Lagerway explains “Microsoft has expressed concerns regarding the current WebRTC specification. If the current WebRTC specification isn’t included in Internet Explorer, it creates a massive gap in the Enterprise and global marketplace. Hookflash is providing both ORTC, WebRTC and mobile compatibility in Hookflash toolkits to deliver Voice, Video and Messaging without plugins to Internet Explorer (assuming integration of ORTC), Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, iOS and android. This makes Hookflash the first company to fill that gap for Enterprise, developers and consumers. But it doesn’t end there,” says Lagerway, “The optimal solution for web developers and customers will be to have all the browser vendors integrate support for ORTC directly. Since ORTC supports both Object and SDP Offer/Answer models, everyone wins.”

Hookflash will be making another announcement on Sunday during the ORTC Walkthroughhttp://blog.webrtc.is/2013/10/28/ortc-walk-through-ietf-88/, regarding the availability of source code for ORTC/WebRTC implementations. This event will be streamed live: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ortc-live.

Hookflash enables real-time social, mobile, and web communications with “Open Peer” for integration of voice, video, messaging with federated identity into world leading software, enterprise, applications, networks, mobile and computing devices. Hookflash and Open Peer are trademarks of Hookflash Inc.

Developers can register at (http://fly.hookflash.me) to start using the Open Peer SDKs today.

For more information and an Open Peer/WebRTC White Paper please visit Hookflash http://hookflash.com.

Press Contact: Trent Johnsen
Hookflash
Press(at)hookflash(dot)com
855-HOOKFLASH (466-5352) ext 1