Twilio is a public company listed on New York Stock Exchange since August 2016. Currently, its market value is 12 billion US dollars. It provides various cloud-based SDKs, including sms, voice, and video, to allow clients to integrate into their own applications.
There are various similar global cloud service providers, such as ZEGOCLOUD, Vonage, Sinch etc. One common service that these cloud service providers provide is real-time video communication that allows users to make real-time video calls or even interactive live streaming in the apps that you have built with their video SDK.
What is a Video SDK
SDK means a Software Development Kit, which is a collection of software development tools in one installable package. The description is a bit abstract. You can think of SDK as a collection of software development modules built into a library file, static or dynamic, and you can use it by calling the interfaces exposed to developers.
Video SDK refers to the kind of SDK that you can use to conduct real-time interactive video calls. Real-time video SDK cannot work without a network, therefore, it has to contain a network transmission module. It won’t work as a standalone module, it has to connect with other apps for real-time video calls.
There are two kinds of video SDK. One kind transmits real-time media data in a peer-to-peer manner like WebRTC. WebRTC video SDK allows you to make a video call with another user without a server cluster. WebRTC does have some kind of servers like TURN and STUN servers . However, they are optional, and are not designed for media data transmission.
The other kind transmits real-time media data with leverage on a data acceleration network like ZEGOCLOUD. ZEGOCLOUD built a proprietary data acceleration network called MSDN (Massive Serial Data Network), and uses it to guarantee the service quality of video calls like smoothness, low latency and high definition. With the acceleration network deployed on the cloud, real-time video communication service providers like Twilio and ZEGOCLOUD will provide the video SDK as a PaaS. Developers will be able to integrate the video SDK and use the service easily.
The Must-Have Video SDK Features
Different video SDKs contain various features for differentiation. However, there are some basic features that a typical video SDK must have.
First of all, the video SDK must allow one-on-one or many-to-many interactive video conversations. Once participants join a conversation, they should be able to enjoy a quality voice and video communication experience.
Secondly, the video SDK must guarantee conversational voice quality, including acoustic noise suppression, acoustic echo cancellation, and automatic gain control. These basic but important techniques ensure that you can hear voices that can almost replicate offline experiences.
Thirdly, the video SDK must ensure critical user experience including low latency, smoothness, and high definition. If the latency is lower than 300ms, then you can feel no lagging and can speak naturally with other participants. An appropriate frame rate is important for smoothness. In terms of motion pictures, the frame rate is 24 FPS. The high-definition feature allows adjustments of video picture quality. A 720p resolution should provide acceptable video quality on a smartphone screen. However, the resolution must be adjusted to 1080p to ensure a quality user experience on a PC screen.
Fourthly, there must be some support and supplement features including recording, streaming mixing, and monitoring. For example, ZEGOCLOUD’s video sdk allows video recording on the cloud or on-premises; it also allows you to mix multiple streams into a single stream for broadcasting purposes; ZEGOCLOUD also provides a backend monitoring dashboard that allows you to monitor the system from various aspects including user, room, stream, device, etc.
What is a PaaS and aPaaS
Platform as a service (PaaS) is a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud, with resources that enable you to deliver everything from simple cloud-based apps to sophisticated, cloud-enabled enterprise applications.
In our context, ZEGOCLOUD and Twilio deployed the whole service on the cloud as a PaaS and exposed the video SDK as endpoints to allow developers to integrate and use on the go. It is like using electricity, you plug in, pay the bill, and use it, and you don’t have to worry about how it works. This is the great thing about PaaS.
To developers, the video SDK exposed by a PaaS is just lines of code, and there is still some distance from the application level GUI and business logic. Some clients would rather focus on their own business and fully trust ZEGOCLOUD’s technology and demand a high level of encapsulation of the video SDK. In that case, we have launched some scenario-based solutions, such as the solution for online transactions and recording in the finance industry. The solution encapsulates partial application-level business logic and provides some GUIs. We call this kind of PaaS an aPaaS, i.e. Application Platform as a Service.
Why Should We Need Alternatives to Twilio Video SDK
Twilio was founded in 2008 and its main business is to provide SMS service. In 2016, the company obtained real-time communication technology by the acquisition of Kurento Technology.
Twilio entered into a definitive agreement to acquire proprietary WebRTC media processing technologies built by the team behind the popular Kurento Open Source Project. Upon completion of this transaction, the team behind Kurento joined Twilio to lead the integration of the new technologies and enable the development of advanced video in web and mobile applications.
Even though Twilio developed its video SDK service through the acquisition of Kurento Technology, its video SDK is still far from being able to match its SMS service.
In addition, as a common practice in the industry, companies tend to integrate at least two vendors’ solutions and balance the traffic load depending on their performance. For some regions, one vendor’s video SDK might perform the best, while for other regions, the other vendor’s video SDK might work better. It is also wise to have an alternative solution as backup or load balancing.
Top Alternatives to Twilio Video SDK
ZEGOCLOUD provides all the must-have features. On top of that, it has creatively provided wonderful solutions shipped with the video SDK to help clients to attract and retain users. ZEGOCLOUD provides an online karaoke solution that allows you to play background music in a group video chat or a one-on-one video chat, and you can also sing karaoke with your cyber-friends in the video chat room to build up a rapport with your cyber-friends rapidly. Similarly, ZEGOCLOUD provides a rich collection of mini-games that can be launched in a video chat room, and allow users to play games together while chatting through voice and video.
Even better, ZEGOCLOUD has launched its metaverse strategy and published a series of metaverse solutions that allow users to conduct video calls in a 3D virtual world. You can imagine how wonderful it could be if a regular video group chat were moved to a 3D virtual tea room, and each user can see one another as a self-avatar, and they can interact with one another through posture, gestures and face expressions, which can be synchronized onto your avatar through the input of the camera.
- Wonderful user experience, including low latency, smoothness, high definition, crystal-clear voice, etc.
- Value-added content, such as games, music, and karaoke, helps you to make your video chat room more attractive and active.
- A fantastic upgrade to metaverse, video SDK can be used jointly with metaverse solutions, helping you ride on the metaverse trend.
The Vonage Video API makes it easy to build a custom video experience within any mobile, web, or desktop application and is built on the WebRTC industry standard available on billions of devices. It has the richest set of live video features on the market, honed over many years in response to the needs of thousands of customers. All voice, video, and signaling traffic is AES-128 encrypted with the option to add AES-256 encryption. It only takes four minutes to add live video to websites using just one line of HTML. This means that engineers and content creators alike can rapidly build sophisticated live video apps with many participants, as the API accommodates users without video development expertise.
- Encrypted video recordings
- Video chat embeds
- GDPR and HIPPA compliance
- SIP interconnect
- Video stream customization
- HLS and RTMP streaming
- Video analytics
- Cross-platform support
- Enterprise-grade reliability
- Custom video filters and masks
- Live broadcasting
- Low video latency
- Pre-built live streaming SDK with 5,000+ participant support
- A quick integration time of 10 minutes
- Unlimited channels with enhanced video quality
- UI support & auto-scalable parallel rooms
- Unlimited attendee support in a single meeting
- Video recording
We list a few alternatives to Twilio video SDK above for your choice, however, there are many more on the market. To make a wise decision on which video SDK to integrate, first, you have to make sure that the product you choose can offer the must-have video SDK features, and further, you have to align the vendor’s product roadmap with your product roadmap. For example, you might want to upgrade to a metaverse version shortly, or you want to integrate games into your app to activate your users, then you need to make sure the vendor also provides metaverse solutions and game content like ZEGOCLOUD. There is no best solution, but here is the most suitable solution.