Posts

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.

Hookflash, Google and Microsoft lead on ORTC / WebRTC 1.1 Public Draft

webrtc1.1_logo

The first ORTC Public Draft Specification has been published, authored by Hookflash, Microsoft, and Google. (http://ortc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/ortc.html ) This specification extends WebRTC 1.0 with new functionality to create a WebRTC 1.1 API with exceptional flexibility and no loss of compatibility.

Like WebRTC, ORTC (Object Real-time Communication) enables plugin-free real-time communications for mobile, web and cloud, but is specifically tailored to provide the direct control needed to enable advanced multimedia and conferencing features.

“We heard developers say that they wanted more direct control over the technologies available in WebRTC. At the same time, we didn’t want existing developers to have to start over with a new API. ORTC is our proposal for how we can accomplish both of these things – a new set of APIs for direct control, that builds off the existing WebRTC 1.0 API set. As an evolution of the existing API, we consider this WebRTC 1.1” comments Justin Uberti, Google Tech Lead, WebRTC. “We’re grateful to Hookflash for their work to get ORTC off the ground. They have been instrumental in making this cross-industry collaboration happen, and we look forward to continuing our work with them.”

This newly published public draft has come a long way since the W3C ORTC Community Group was formed in mid-2013. As it has progressed from an initial set of ideas to a fleshed-out draft complete enough for implementations, several companies have gotten closely involved, with Microsoft and Google now joining Hookflash as authors of the emerging specification.

“We have been working hard to get the ORTC API to the point where it can be implemented. This would not have been possible without the initial and continuing work of Hookflash”, commented Bernard Aboba, Principal Architect, Skype, “We also are excited by the ORTC API’s support for advanced video features such as SVC (Scalable Video Coding) and simulcast. The Javascript Object API approach has made these advanced video technologies more accessible, which has been difficult in the past.”

The W3C ORTC Community Group now numbers more than 60 participants.

“We believe the contributions to WebRTC 1.1 / ORTC will allow web communications technology to become ubiquitous and transcend nearly all communications technologies that came before it” says Hookflash Co-founder, Erik Lagerway, “We are honored to be working with some of the brightest minds at Google, Microsoft, and the other contributing members in the ORTC CG to mature WebRTC into a universal go-to toolkit enabling communications across the globe.”

For more information on ORTC, see:
W3C ORTC Community Group
ORTC.org – History and FAQs
WebRTC.is – ORTC & WebRTC news

Hookflash enables real-time social, mobile, and web communications 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 Hookflash RTC service and toolkits today.

For more information on Hookflash RTC toolkits and White Labeling please visit Hookflash http://hookflash.com.

Come and work at one of the coolest companies in the space! We’re now hiring for these development positions: iOS, Android, Node.js & C++ send us your resume: jobs@hookflash.com.

Hookflash – Trent Johnsen

855-466-5352 Ext: 1

Hookflash for Android

hookflash_android_video

 

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

global_messenger_apps_stats

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.

ORTC – JavaScript powered RTC

The ORTC API (http://ortc.org) was conceptualized by Robin Raymond – Chief Architect, Hookflash Inc.  It’s no secret that we have been opposed to SDP in the WebRTC 1.0 spec, but instead of derailing progress there we decided to create a W3C Community Group where we could apply our passion. We are getting closer on a Public Draft of that API and when I look at the progress we have made since forming the Community Group a mere 9 months ago, I am satisfied we are moving at a good pace. Our list of participants continues to grow and its great to see ORTC on the list of considered technologies in the Internet Explorer group at Microsoft!

We are hopeful that we make some material progress at this next meeting, I know we are all itching to get this API implementable so we can build ORTC into some cool apps.

The next ORTC Community Group Meeting is scheduled for April 17, 2014 at 10am Pacific. Agenda and meeting details to follow.

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

OTT: That’s just over the top!

A 3-hour, executive format meeting where up to 100 telecom experts discuss how Over The Top, OTT, content and services are changing the ecosystem and creating opportunities.

The rise of OTT content and services has been a bittersweet affair for network operators. On the one hand, OTT content is what has driven the demand for mobile data subscriptions which have provided the only growing data source in an era of dropping voice revenues. OTOH, OTT content soaks up most of the networks capacity, and increases CapEx and OpEx for carriers.

Making matters worse, network operators are being cut out of “owning” the customer relationship, being the provider of new services, and building churn-reducing loyalty. Resistance is mostly futile, so entrenched players need to select, partner, and compete. Companies are looking for areas they can be a top player, and compete to win a portion of the OTT business. Partnerships are key to this strategy, so in today’s meeting, we will examine strategies such as that of Telefónica Digital, look at a variety of potential operator partners like Cloudscaling, and look at carrier-consortium efforts such as Joyn. We’re going to examine this from both a mobile and fixed perspective.

We will be there, will you?

Watch This: @RobinRaymond builds federated video chat at jQuery Conference Portland on stage!

This is a great visualization of how WebRTC actually functions today.  Robin shows the message flows in a terminal, the source used, very cool! He also touches on all the bits outside of WebRTC that are needed for a secure, ubiquitous and mobile friendly user experience.

The Q&A at the end of the presentation are worth listening to as well.

The demo code used: https://github.com/openpeer/webrtc-demo

Presentation: https://github.com/openpeer/pres-jqueryconf-2013

Rolodex for Identities Mgt: https://github.com/openpeer/rolodex

Rolodex Presence – Plug-in: https://github.com/openpeer/rolodex-presence