Guide to Video Calls API and Why Do You Need One
Even before the COVID-19 global pandemic, making video calls and video conferences have been a major part of our lives thanks to the popularity of platforms like Skype or Apple’s Facetime.
However, we can’t deny the fact how the global pandemic has accelerated the adoption of video calls all around the world, which is marked by the sudden popularity of Zoom throughout 2020 and 2021.
Video calls are now the norm for both businesses and individuals, and many businesses have decided to make remote work long-term and permanent even in this recovery period from the pandemic. While most still rely on platforms like Skype and Zoom, many businesses are now also looking for options to build their own video calls application whether for branding purposes or to add custom features.
One of such options rather than building the video calls solution from scratch is to integrate a video calls API to an existing or even brand new application, and here we’ll learn about it.
What Is a Video Calls API?
API in the programming world stands for Application Programming Interface, and as the name suggests, is an interface (think, a bridge) between two software solutions or applications. In layman’s terms, the API teaches the “language” of an application to another, so these two applications can now understand each other.
An API can bridge more than two applications, or in rare cases, can also connect a software solution with a hardware device.
In the specific use case of a video calls API, the API acts as an interface between a video calls application with another application, and will “teach” the video calls functionalities to the latter application. This way, we can give video calls features and functionalities to an app without needing to build these features from the ground up.
Why is this relevant? Building your own video calls app from scratch will technically provide you with the most freedom in using your own logo, brand colors, and other branding elements as well as custom features, but it does come with its costs, which we will discuss below.
Why Building Your Video Calls App From Scratch Isn’t Ideal?
There are three main concerns if you decide to build your own video calls application from scratch:
Unless you are an experienced software developer with adequate skills, you’ll need to either hire an experienced developer or outsource the project to a software development firm. In both cases, you’ll need to invest a significant amount of money, and unless you’re planning to use the app commercially, the expensive cost might not be justified.
In video calls and video conferences, a lot of data, including sensitive and confidential information is being continuously transmitted, often involving many different parties (i.e. in a video conference).
So, if you plan to build your own video calls solution from scratch, you should also take data security measures into account: infrastructure, data encryption techniques, and so on, and these can be very difficult and expensive, adding to the total costs of developing the video calls app.
Long Delivery Time
Even if you do have the budget to develop the video calls solution from scratch and have an adequate security infrastructure to support the project, it can take a significantly longer time to develop and test the solution before you can launch and use the app.
If you are in a heavily regulated industry so your app must stay in compliance with specific regulations (i.e. HIPAA in telemedicine), then the development and testing process can be more complex and rigorous, which may result in an even longer delivery time (and more expensive costs).
Integrating a video calls API instead of building your own solution from scratch essentially will help you avoid these three issues.
Video Calls API: Features and Considerations
While different APIs from different vendors might offer different sets of features, a typical video conference API will provide the following standard features:
HD resolution: 1080p HD resolution is the standard nowadays, but you should aim for at least 720p resolution.
Adaptive resolution: the capability to automatically adjust the video resolution according to the user’s bandwidth and network conditions
Reliability: reliable communications even in low bandwidth conditions and less than ideal connectivity.
Customizability: allowing customizable video call and collaboration on any device
AI-based features: some video calls solutions like Iotum offers AI-powered features like automated AI-based transcriptions
When choosing between different video calls APIs, it’s best to make the following considerations:
If you are in a heavily regulated industry, like medicare, make sure to choose a video calls API that is compliant with the regulations that apply in your industry (like HIPAA or GDPR). Check the requirements for the regulations that are applicable to your industry, and make sure to choose the right API vendor that offers adequate features and functionalities to ensure compliance.
Ease of Use
It’s important to find the right balance between the features offered and ease of use. The more intuitive and user-friendly the app interface is, the better. Make sure the vendor also provides detailed documentation for the API so you can easily train your team and other parties to use the video calls solution.
Compatibility and Integration
Assess how easy it would be to integrate the video calls API (and application) with your existing technology ecosystem. Also, check whether the API offers cross-platform support (iOS and Android, Windows and Mac) for easier adoption and integration.
Integrating a video calls API will provide you the freedom and versatility of having your own video conference app with your logo, brand elements, and custom features but without the lengthy and difficult development period. Doing so can allow you to have your own solution that is both cost-effective and quick to implement, while also eliminating the issue of data security and the complexity of hosting your own video calls app.
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