Twilio aims to let developers add video calling to any app

Twilio (a 2014 Fierce 15 winner) is adding video capabilities to its cloud-based communications platform, giving enterprises and developers the ability to add live video calling to any application.

Currently, Twilio provides an API that carriers and application developers can use to send messages and make calls across the globe. The new Twilio Video service will use the WebRTC standard, which the company already uses for some of its audio features in its platform, TechCrunch notes.

WebRTC is an emerging standard that allows voice and video communications to be added to websites and mobile apps without a standalone phone or videoconferencing service. By 2019, there will be more than 2 billion active users of "embedded" communications worldwide, spanning consumer, enterprise and Internet of Things applications, according to a November 2014 report from research firm Disruptive Analysis.

Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson told TechCrunch that the company hopes to bring video to apps beyond standalone messaging services like Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Skype or Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) FaceTime, or enterprise video calling solutions. The goal is to let video be integrated into any app.

Some examples the company gave include the ability for multiple mobile game players to see their opponents or teammates in a video in the corner of the screen while they are playing, or an insurer using video in an app to document damage to a car (or for a customer to show an insurance agent damage). Additionally, a customer service representative would be able to use video to see a damaged appliance before arranging a service call.

"Saying 'Hi' to Grandma or having a corporate video call are just a couple of use cases for video calls," Lawson told the New York Times. "Real changes will come from embedding video into other applications."

Lawson told TechCrunch that developers should have an easy time adding the appropriate video code to their apps, especially if they have used Twilio's APIs before (the company already claims to have registered 500,000 developers and says its technology is on 1 million applications globally).

During Twilio Video's beta period, usage will be free, though it's unclear if or how Twilio plans to charge for the service later on. Lawson said that Twilio likely won't charge a per-minute fee like some of its competitors.

Twilio's move to supporting video is noteworthy considering carriers in the United States are shifting their voice and messaging traffic onto their LTE networks. Voice over LTE technology is quickly gaining traction among U.S. wireless carriers, and the technology does support video calling.

For more:
- see this TechCrunch article
- see this NYT article
- see this ZDNet article
- see this The Next Web article

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