Selecting the ideal video calling SDK is a critical decision for developers and businesses looking to enhance their communication capabilities with one to one calling, group conference, screen sharing and conferencing features. With an array of options available, it's essential to consider several key factors to shortlist the SDKs that closely aligns with your specific needs and goals.
In this guide, we will look into these considerations, offering insights into what makes a calling solution to stand out and highlighting the top video calling and conferencing SDKs available in the market for 2023.
Key factors for selecting the best video calling SDK
Engagement & Interaction features
Engagement and interaction features are crucial for enhancing the user experience in a video chat SDK. Here are some key features that contribute to engagement and interaction:
Screenshare: Screen Sharing allows participants to share their screens with others, making it ideal for presentations, demonstrations, and collaborative work. This feature enhances communication and learning experiences.
Filters and Effects: Filters, effects, and virtual backgrounds add fun and creativity to video chats. Participants can apply various visual effects to their video feeds, making conversations more entertaining and engaging.
Reactions: Reactions, such as emoji reactions or emoji overlays on video feeds, provide a non-verbal way for participants to express emotions or reactions during a conversation.
Chat Integration: Integrating a text-based chat alongside video and audio communication is essential for real-time messaging. Participants can use chat to share links, clarify points, or engage in text-based discussions while in a video call.
Interactive Whiteboard: An interactive whiteboard allows participants to draw, annotate, and collaborate on a shared virtual canvas. It's particularly useful for educational sessions, brainstorming, or collaborative work.
Hand Raising: A "hand raising" feature lets participants signal when they want to speak or ask a question. It promotes order during group discussions and presentations.
Breakout Rooms: Breakout rooms allow hosts to divide participants into smaller groups for focused discussions or activities, enhancing collaboration and engagement in larger meetings.
Speaker Spotlight: The ability to spotlight a specific speaker's video feed ensures that the active speaker remains visible to all participants, enhancing the clarity of communication.
Broadcast & Presenter Mode
Broadcast Mode enables one or a few presenters to deliver content to a large audience in a one-to-many communication style, making it ideal for webinars, lectures, and events where direct audience interaction is limited.
On the other hand, Presenter Mode enhances interactivity by allowing multiple participants to share content, collaborate, and switch between presenter and viewer roles during a session. It fosters dynamic engagement, making it suitable for workshops, team meetings, and educational settings where participants actively contribute, ask questions, and collaborate on shared content. The choice between these modes depends on the specific goals of the virtual meeting or event, with Broadcast Mode emphasising content delivery and Presenter Mode promoting active collaboration and discussion among participants, both contributing to more effective and engaging virtual interactions.
Call Recording & Access
Call recording is a crucial feature that allows users to capture and store audio or video conversations for various purposes, including documentation, training, compliance, quality assurance, and dispute resolution. Equally important is the ability to access and manage these recordings efficiently. Access to call recordings should be secure, with options for search, retrieval, playback, sharing, and access control. Proper storage, retention policies, and audit trails ensure that recorded calls are both accessible and protected, contributing to effective communication and documentation in professional and business contexts.
Cross Platform Compatibility
A robust Video calling SDK should support web applications on various browsers (e.g., Chrome, Firefox, Safari), mobile platforms like iOS and Android, and desktop operating systems such as Windows, macOS, and Linux. Achieving cross-platform compatibility involves developing the SDK with technologies and standards that are universally supported, enabling users to engage in video calls and communication without restrictions, regardless of their chosen device or platform.
Ease of integration-
Ease of integration is a paramount consideration when selecting a Video Calling SDK. A Video Chat SDK that excels in this regard simplifies the development process by allowing swift and straightforward integration of video chat features into applications or services. It offers well-documented APIs, developer-friendly resources, and robust compatibility with various programming languages, frameworks, and platforms. This enables developers, whether experienced or beginners, to quickly implement video chat capabilities, reducing development time and expediting the application's release.
A scalable SDK possesses the ability to effortlessly expand its capacity and performance in response to growing user demands. Scalability ensures that applications equipped with the SDK remain responsive and dependable, whether accommodating a small team's collaboration or a massive audience in a webinar or live event.
Security & Compliance
A Video calling SDK should prioritise security to protect user data and privacy, and compliance to adhere to industry-specific and regional regulations. Evaluating an SDK's security and compliance features is crucial, especially when handling sensitive or regulated data in applications or services. Here's an overview of their significance:
End-to-End Encryption: A robust Video Chat SDK should offer end-to-end encryption for all video and audio data, ensuring that communications are private and secure, and only accessible to the intended participants.
User Authentication: Strong user authentication mechanisms, such as secure login processes and multi-factor authentication (MFA), help prevent unauthorised access to video chats.
Access Controls: Granular access controls allow administrators to manage who can initiate, join, or access video chats. This is crucial for maintaining privacy and security within organisations.
Data Storage Security: Video recordings or stored data should be protected with robust security measures to prevent unauthorised access or data breaches.
HIPAA Compliance: In healthcare and telemedicine applications, compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is critical to protect patient data and privacy during video consultations.
GDPR and Data Privacy: For applications serving users in the European Union, compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) ensures the protection of user data and privacy rights.
A Video calling SDK should offer a clear and transparent pricing structure. This includes details about pricing tiers, what each tier includes, and any usage limits or restrictions. Many SDK providers offer a free tier or trial period, allowing developers to test the SDK's functionality before committing to a paid plan. This is particularly valuable for evaluating suitability. Effective pricing considerations encompass understanding how costs evolve with increased usage, particularly in terms of scalability. It's vital to ensure that the pricing structure aligns harmoniously with your anticipated user base and usage patterns while maintaining cost-effectiveness as your application naturally expands. Additionally, grasp the nuances of usage-based pricing models, which may factor in metrics like the duration of video calls, participant numbers, or data volume transmitted. Equally important is understanding any associated customization costs, should your project demand specialised features or modifications beyond the SDK's standard offerings. These elements collectively contribute to a comprehensive pricing strategy that facilitates budget planning and supports the long-term growth of your application.
Top video calling SDKs in 2023
CometChat's Video calling SDK presents a powerful and versatile solution for developers seeking to incorporate live calling and colloaborations features into their application.
CometChat stands out by seamlessly combining chat, voice, and video communication capabilities within a single product, providing a unified platform that caters to diverse communication needs.
This comprehensive approach simplifies development, streamlines user experiences, and offers tremendous flexibility. Whether you're building messaging apps, collaborative tools, or customer support platforms, CometChat's Video calling SDK empowers you to craft immersive and interactive communication solutions that resonate with your audience.
Here are some of the key aspects of CometChat’s Video Calling SDK:
UI Kits and Customization Options: The SDK is equipped with an out-of-the-box UI kit, which means it provides pre-designed user interface components for chat, voice calls, and video calls. This makes it easier for developers to integrate these features into their applications without starting from scratch. Additionally, the SDK typically offers customization options, allowing developers to tailor the UI to match their application's branding and design preferences.
Support for All Use-Cases: CometChat's Video Chat SDK is designed to support a broad spectrum of use-cases. Whether you're building messaging apps, collaborative tools, customer support platforms, or any other application that requires real-time communication, this SDK aims to provide the necessary functionality. It offers flexibility and adaptability to cater to the specific communication needs of your project.
Agora primarily specializes in delivering real-time voice and video communication capabilities, with a notable focus on mobile applications. Their video chat SDK is designed with a "Mobile-First" approach, making it particularly well-suited for both iOS and Android platforms, ensuring compatibility with a wide array of mobile devices and operating system versions.
However, it's important to note that while Agora offers a certain level of customization, highly tailored applications may require additional development work. This customization process can potentially extend your project timeline and resource investment.
Agora's pricing model is structured around factors such as the number of users, usage duration, and specific features utilized. While this model can be cost-effective for many applications, it's essential to be aware that costs can accumulate swiftly, particularly for applications with a large user base or intensive usage. Agora's React SDK for video calls is still in its beta stage. This means that while it offers promising functionality, it may not be as stable or feature complete as fully matured SDKs, and developers may encounter occasional issues or limitations when implementing it.
The standout feature of Daily.co's Video Chat SDK is its ease of native integration. This ease of integration can significantly reduce development time and effort, allowing developers to focus on creating a seamless user experience. From e-commerce platforms looking to provide personalized shopping assistance through live video consultations to telehealth applications connecting patients with healthcare professionals.
Daily.co's SDK is adaptable to diverse scenarios. The SDK's customizable user interface ensures a seamless and branded experience for end-users, promoting trust and engagement. CometChat has extended its functionality by integrating with Daily.co's technology. Through this integration, CometChat can offer additional features related to real-time video streaming, such as live broadcasting and viewing video streams.
While Daily.co offers ease of integration, it may not provide the same level of customization and extensibility as some other video chat SDKs. For applications requiring highly specialised or unique features beyond the SDK's standard offerings, developers may need to invest additional time and effort in custom development.
Sendbird's Chat SDK is widely used for various messaging purposes, including group chat, one-on-one messaging, and more. What sets Sendbird Video Chat SDK apart is its modular approach to communication, allowing businesses to select and pay for specific features like video, chat, and voice separately and by tailoring their solution to their exact needs, while ensuring a high-quality user experience.
While the modular approach offers flexibility, Sendbird does not offer a bundled package that includes all communication features (video, voice, and chat) as a single offering. To enable both chat and video features, businesses may need to subscribe to both, which can be an added cost for applications requiring comprehensive communication capabilities. Sendbird’s pricing largely depends on MAU’s and for applications where user engagement fluctuates daily or seasonally, this pricing model may result in overpayment for inactive users.
Twilio Video Chat SDK, often referred to as Twilio Video, stands out as a versatile and innovative solution in the world of real-time communication. Its distinctive hybrid design seamlessly merges the capabilities of an SDK with a robust infrastructure, providing developers with a comprehensive platform to seamlessly integrate interactive video and audio communication features into their applications
However, building and configuring custom solutions on Twilio's infrastructure may take longer compared to using pre-built SDKs that offer out-of-the-box functionality. Businesses should factor in the development timeline when considering this approach. Custom solutions built on Twilio's infrastructure may lead to vendor lock-in, making it challenging to migrate to alternative platforms in the future. It's important to weigh the long-term implications of this when choosing to use Twilio's infrastructure.
Dyte's Video Conference SDK & API offers developers a versatile and user-friendly solution for integrating video communication into their applications. With a focus on security, reliability, and ease of use, Dyte's SDK empowers developers to embed scalable, customizable, and interactive video calls in a matter of minutes. Dyte's Video SDK finds applications across diverse sectors, from education and telehealth to live interviews, fitness and community engagement, sales and support, and even gaming and the metaverse.
However, Dyte does not offer chat sdk, which means that the users cannot engage in text-based chatting while participating in video calls using Dyte’s SDK. Dyte's strengths primarily lie in its video communication capabilities and developers who would like to integrate chat functionality along with video call in their application might need to explore alternative solutions to fulfil this aspect
VideoSDK offers developers a versatile and scalable solution for real-time audio and video conferencing, and it also serves as a live streaming platform. It is a developer-centric API that streamlines cross-device uniformity, endowing applications with role-based permissions, real-time event broadcasting, and secure access through JWT authentication.
However, it's important to note that VideoSDK does not include a chat feature for text-based communication alongside video and audio conferencing, which may necessitate developers to consider complementary solutions for chat functionality. Chat provides a direct channel for viewers to engage with the content and the streamer in real-time. It enables the audience to ask questions, provide feedback, share their thoughts, and interact with fellow viewers. This engagement creates a sense of community and participation, making the viewing experience more interactive and enjoyable.
Vonage's Video Chat SDK, as part of their comprehensive Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS), equips developers with powerful tools to seamlessly integrate high-quality real-time video and audio communication into their applications. This SDK empowers developers to craft engaging and interactive video chat experiences across a spectrum of platforms, including web, mobile (both iOS and Android), and desktop.
While the SDK offers customization options, highly complex or specialised customizations may require additional development effort and could be challenging to implement. Like many CPaaS solutions, pricing for Vonage's services can accumulate based on factors such as the number of users, usage duration, and specific features utilised. Developers should carefully assess their budget and projected usage.
MirrorFly provides extensive customization options, allowing developers to tailor the chat and video features to match the unique branding and user experience of their applications. It also includes real-time collaboration tools such as screen sharing and whiteboarding, enhancing interactivity. MirrorFly's SDK comes with comprehensive developer support and documentation. However, it's essential to be aware of potential downsides. The SDK may require a learning curve for developers new to its ecosystem, and extensive customizations may demand additional development time and resources. Pricing can vary depending on the level of customization and features required, which could impact the overall cost of integration.
100ms is a cloud-based live video and audio infrastructure platform that allows developers to add video conferencing and live streaming to their applications. It provides a set of APIs, SDKs, and a dashboard to capture, distribute, record, and render live interactive audio and video.
Though 100ms boasts unique features, it is quite costly, particularly for applications with heavy traffic. Setting up and configuring the system can be intricate, especially for developers inexperienced in live video and audio streaming. Moreover, once integrated, there's a potential entanglement, making it challenging to seamlessly transition to a different provider in the future.
Content Marketer , CometChat