The Best Video Conferencing Software: Features, Advantages, and Perspectives
Conferencing Software allows you to easily communicate online with colleagues, partners, friends, or family in the format of audio/video calls. It also makes it possible to transfer some vital processes online. Learning, for example.
Their role in business is immeasurable. Thanks to video conference software, cooperation among partners and customers all around the globe become possible, the work can be done synchronously, on time, and without damage. The borders are increasingly blurred.
But creating communication apps used to take a lot of time. To make it easier and faster, CPaaS were created, and these solutions greatly facilitate the entire process.
CPaaS is a cloud-based technology whose mission is to help organizations add communication features to their apps. Such cloud communication platforms successfully process voice & video calls, text messages, assist in building web and mobile chats and call centers, etc. Thus, they virtualize the telecommunication infrastructure and bring it into a digital format.
This is achieved using APIs that simplify and cheapen the development phase. With the API, any business system can be customized individually to suit your needs.
Given the global pandemic realities and a worldwide lockdown, this approach has become natural for absolutely all businesses. One of the most demanded nowadays is software for the education industry (group sessions and one-on-ones) – E-Learning Apps.
Developing Companies and investors are going along with the fact E-Learning apps are to be in demand even when the global quarantine is over. Hard to argue, the absolute return to offline learning exclusively is not expected for sure. It used to be like this even before COVID.
The development of E-Learning platforms started to involve state budgets.
Worldwide, more than 120 million children are unable to attend school. We all need to do our part to help with this huge global problem. We believe every child should have the chance to be educated. – Education For Everyone
E-Learning apps cannot solve this problem but can make an enormous impact on this mission.
WebRTC, Twilio, Jitsi: Main Features, Pros, And Cons
There are different APIs for developing conference apps and no one-fit option. Even ones, recognized as the best, have their drawbacks. To be fair, a shortcoming for one can mean nothing to others. You analyze and only then make a decision.
Here we are taking a closer look at WebRTC, Twilio, and Jitsi, and paying extra attention to BigBlueButton. We are to find out the key features of CPaaS, the main differences among them, their merits and demerits, and help you to determine which one suits your product and expectations.
WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is a protocol that allows you to organize the process of broadcasting audio and video. You can start a video conference at any time. If you want to establish a time frame for access, you are going to need a separate server to authorize users and provide them access.
Depending on the complexity of the task, this functionality development takes from 50 to 100 hours.
Screen sharing, video/audio streaming, turning on-off microphone and camera you have to implement manually.
WebRTC only allows the transmission and acceptance of a data stream. Screen Capture API, built into the browser, allows screen demonstration. The main functionality for the conference is implemented through the use of the API for the microphone/camera in the browser using JS on the client-side.
A pool of work depends on the UI complexity and takes from 80 to 200 hours.
WebRTC has no text chat option. If needed, it can be implemented on the server-side and the client-side. For real-time communication, you need to use WebSockets, provide storage for messages in the database, etc.
According to the chat functionality and complexity of UI, it takes from 50 to 120 hours.
Functionality for Safari users is limited: screen demonstration and camera recording are not supported.
It is possible to create a stable connection (video + audio) for two users, by default. For having more people, you need to connect to a STUN server. A STUN (Session Traversal Utilities for NAT) server is required to obtain a public IPv4 address and port to establish a connection. You also need to implement a separate TURN (Traversal Using Relays around NAT) server.
Installation and setup take from 120 to 300 hours.
Unlike the other services, Twilio costs money.
It allows you to organize audio/video conferences for 2-50 participants. It’s also suitable for organizing encrypted P2P connections. Twilio provides the entire infrastructure for video/audio delivery, you don’t need to configure additional servers, STUN, TURN, etc.
Screen demonstration, audio and video stream, switching the microphone, camera on-off, and displaying video from other participants are to be done manually. The Twilio SDK only allows you to send and receive a data stream.
Screen demonstration is provided by the Screen Capture API, built into the browser. The main functionality is implemented through the use of the API for the microphone/camera in the browser using JS on the client side.
Depending on the UI complexity, this may take 80-200 hours.
Twilio does not support text chat. If needed, it can be implemented on the server-side and the client-side (UI). For real-time communication, you need to use WebSockets, provide storage for messages in the database, and so on.
It takes 50-120 hours.
You can start a video conference at any time, but you need to create a video room using Twilio API before that. To generate a room, you need a specific server that uses the Twilio API. On this server, you can generate links only for selected users and for a certain time interval.
The development of such functionality takes from 50 to 100 hours.
Twilio has the same troubles with browsers as the previous service. This is due to the fact of using WebRTC here as a basis for data transfer between end customers.
Read also: On-Demand Tutoring Marketplaces: How Do These Platforms Work
Free open-source platform. The name speaks for itself – you can upgrade the code if needed. Jitsi has a built-in text chat and allows you to generate links for conference invitations. The screen display is available as well.
You can start a video conference at any time. For settling time-frames, you need a separate server to authorize users and provide them access to the conference.
The development of such functionality takes from 50 to 100 hours.
You also need to limit access to third parties. To get that, you add logic to the platform’s client part, which means plus 20-40 hours of work.
A separate virtual machine is required to deploy the entire platform. This takes from 120 to 200 hours.
Big Blue Button
Big Blue Button deserves to be highlighted. It is an open-source platform, free for both personal and commercial use. Designed specifically for organizing and conducting online lessons it is well established on the top among that kind of software.
Big Blue Button is impressively easy to use and the official website offers great video tutorials. Problems may occur while installing and using an Ubuntu Linux server. It requires proper knowledge and skills, and qualified professionals. The official site offers five trustworthy companies whose experts can help you here (but there are more other firms who do that). The cost of this assistance starts from $ 150.
BigBlueButton has all the necessary functionality for online webinars. It’s possible to distribute audio, video, presentations, and display the desktop during the session. A whiteboard, notes, pools, and online chat are also at your service.
BigBlueButton has gone further than other apps in its focus on online learning. For example, students can be organized into groups and work in separate rooms. Each room will have an individual whiteboard to work together.
The security mechanism is complex. You can set a password to access each room and require confirmation by the administrator, as an example.
This software is well known as one of the main Jitsi and Zoom competitors. By comparison, they have native mobile apps, which BigBlueButton doesn’t have. But the latter one is undeniably better equipped for student-tutor and student-student interaction and provides greater security.
BigBlueButton legitimately holds the top spot among services for E-Learning Apps development. Although the number of features and instruments is as impressively large as expensive software has, it is free.
As it was said above, there’s not a single correct answer and it doesn’t seem possible to call one better than others. A decision must be based on:
how much money you are ready to put into this
how much time you have
what is your final goal
Then, the choice will be quite clear. To make this easier for you, we offer free consulting and estimates. Fill this contact form, prepare your questions and we’ll be glad to provide you with answers, our expertise, and experience.