One of the restrictions that came with the COVID-19 pandemic outburst was that a lot of us needed to switch to working from home. That, in consequence, meant we had to replace our face-to-face communication with some other means. The difficulty of switching to being fully remote was varying based on industry. For example, for us, it was pretty easy, as we were in common with remote working on a day-to-day basis. But let’s say medicine or education had to make a great leap to be fully remote. With the requirement of being fully remote, companies were desperately seeking solutions. That’s when lots of different tools have emerged. One of them was Zoom.
From the graph above we immediately get two conclusions: it blew up together with COVID-19 pandemic and, what’s more, important to us, it’s not a simple day to day communication tool to talk to your friends but it’s mostly used for work as we have significant dips every weekend.
But hey! What does all of that have to do with my business? Let me explain. Imagine that you’re building an app that has to enable users to have some form of real-time video chatting/conferencing/lecturing. That perfectly ties with the COVID-19 pandemic when everything is moving to the internet. For example medicine (or technically telemedicine) apps, where a doctor needs to talk to a patient or, as in Future Collars, tutors give live lectures to students.
Now that you have your idea allow me to analyze your options. You can try to build your solution from scratch. In this case, you have to take on a lot of problems that you shouldn’t really care about nor waste your money on solving, like compression, heavy networking issues (TURN/STUN), p2p, video encoding, hardware support. If you remembered where Skype was 10-15 years ago, you would hope to be there with your freshly tailored product.
Let’s try to use some solutions from the market for in-app video conferencing. As there are plenty of them I want to show you only a general idea that stands behind them. You can go for a self-hosted option like Jitsi which is a great solution with two “ifs” - if you accept infrastructure costs (which might be a lot) and if you have people that’ll take care of your infrastructure (which might cost you even more).
You can also find SaaS solutions like OpenVidu, where you pay per core, and you need to say how much you’ll need by yourself. What is more, you can go for entirely p2p solutions where your infrastructure cost is pretty much none. Still, you’re giving up some options like recording calls, and having many conferences is naturally limited as well.
Nevertheless, there’s one more thing that you can do if you give up the possibility of including the chat directly within the app.
At LeanCode, we have previously used Zoom as a communication tool alongside our apps with excellent outcomes. FutureCollars platform uses it as their solution for live webinars where mentors give live lectures to their students.
Our backend systems communicate with Zoom API and schedule all the meetings based on given requirements which is super easy to exactly suit your needs as we have complete control over it. Then we generate pre-authorized URLs, which will automatically log in to meeting hosts or participants. From the user perspective, everything is seamless - they only need to click a button that opens the Zoom app, and with no accounts, passwords they simply join the meeting. While the meeting is live, our backend keeps track of it. As soon as it ends, we’re downloading all the recordings and displaying them to students. What is more, we’ve implemented a mechanism that allows tutors and students to schedule 1-on-1 on-demand meetings.
All of that with exactly 0 infrastructure. Development overhead is minimal as all the integration sits on the backend side and is really thin. Your only cost is Zoom, but the chances are you’re already paying for it if you’re using it as your daily driver.
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