Announcing Programmable Video Group Rooms: More Participants, Video Recording, and Pricing for Scale

We’re excited to announce that Programmable Video Group Rooms are now available in Public Beta, enabling video and audio recording and increasing the number of users that can participate in a Room to 50.

Get started with Group Rooms and Recording

Setting up your first recorded Group Room is simple:

  • Download and setup one of our Android, iOS (Swift, ObjC), or JavaScript quickstart apps from GitHub if you don’t have a Programmable Video app already.
  • Login to the Default Room Settings page in the Console, enable Recording, and set a webhook URL for your server to receive Room and recording notifications.
  • Connect to a Room–you’ll receive webhook notifications that Recording has activated and completed as you connect and disconnect from the Room.

Read the docs to get started.

So how does it work?

The Programmable Video Rooms API makes it simple to embed real-time, multi-party voice and video into any application.  With today’s update, you can now create two types of Rooms: Group or Peer-to-Peer.

 

 

When you use a Group Room, the media Tracks shared by your Participants route through Twilio’s cloud. This is important for a couple reasons.

First, Twilio’s cloud media servers act as a central hub for distributing audio and video tracks among Participants enabling a larger number of Participants to connect to a single Room.

Each Participant encodes its audio and video tracks once, publishing those tracks to the Room over a single connection to Twilio’s cloud. Twilio’s cloud does the heavy lifting to distribute the tracks to other Participants.

Second, by routing media through Twilio’s cloud, we can add media processing features, such as Recording, to the Room.

Flexible recordings

We wanted Group Room Recording to be as flexible as possible to support the widest variety of post-processing workflows. In a complex video application, it’s common to feed recorded video to other services for image analysis / computer vision, audio analysis, and much more.

That’s why each audio and video track is recorded as a separate file, so you can compose, convert, or analyze these files in any way you like.

Today, audio and video recordings are captured in Matroska format, a flexible media container format that can support both VP8 and H.264 video codecs, Opus and PCMU audio codecs, and many others. Matroska files can also be easily converted to popular formats such as MPEG-4, WEBM, and others.

Read more about the Recordings REST API to learn how to use the new features.

Pricing model for the next generation of communications

Group Rooms pricing is designed to be both fair and scalable to support the broadest range of use cases. This is why we’ve chosen a pricing model for Group Rooms and Recording that’s based on the media processing required for your app, rather than strictly considering the number of minutes your users are connected.

A flat minute-based pricing model will not work for the dynamic ecosystem of embedded communications apps. Most minute-based metering approaches charge too much for lower-bandwidth use cases in mobile, Internet of Things (IoT), and audio-centric apps because they assume that all minutes are created equal. But from multi-party HD team collaboration apps to IoT home security app, 1:1 social chat and sales app for audio + screen sharing, no two apps are the same–and they should not make the same assumptions.

We believe that a pricing model based on the actual media processing requirements of the application is not only fair, but more cost effective for apps at any scale. And we believe a better pricing model will unlock innovation by lowering the barrier to entry for even more developers.

On-demand pricing makes getting started easy

With that in mind, our On-Demand rates for Group Rooms and Recording:

  • Group Rooms starts at $0.001 per minute per Participant and $0.30 per gigabyte of media routed.
  • Recording has identical price points, at an additional $0.001 per minute per Participant and $0.30 per gigabyte of media recorded.
  • You can store Recordings in Twilio’s cloud at the cost of $0.05 per stored gigabyte per month, and $0.40 per gigabyte downloaded.

So how does this work in practice? Let’s take a 1:1 Standard Definition video call at a typical bitrate of 540kbps (pretty average for a WebRTC application). In this scenario, you’d pay about $0.0022 per minute, per Participant. If this call lasts 5 minutes, it will cost 2 x 5 x $0.0022 = $0.022

Enabling Recording adds an additional $0.001 per minute and $0.30 for each gigabyte of data recorded. That means in our 1:1 video call example above, you’ll pay an additional $0.0022 per minute per Participant to record the call, for a total of $0.044 for the entire call and its recordings.

Read the FAQ to learn how to calculate rates for your application.

Scale to millions of users with Commit Pricing

Commit Pricing for Group Rooms and Recording provides you with a significant discount (more than 70%) compared to the On-Demand Pricing above, reaching rates as low as $0.0006 per minute for the 1:1 SD video call described above.

See the list of commit tiers on our pricing page. Questions? Contact sales.

New Peer-to-Peer pricing available

With the above updates to Group Rooms, we’re also rolling out a similar pricing model for Peer-to-Peer Rooms: $0.001 per Participant per minute, and TURN bandwidth charged as-needed.

This matches Group Rooms Participant minute rates, and replaces our earlier Peer-to-Peer Rooms pricing model of $0.01 per Participant per hour (rounded up to the nearest hour) with minute-based metering. Network Traversal Service TURN bandwidth will remain unchanged.

Customers already using Peer-to-Peer Rooms can continue using the existing hour-based pricing model. Customers who wish to migrate to the new pricing model should open a ticket with Twilio Support.

Pricing activation

Group Rooms is available today at the rates described above.

Recording billing and minute-based metering for Peer-to-Peer Rooms will activate on June 1, 2017. As mentioned above, Peer-to-Peer Rooms users will remain on the existing hour-based metering, and can opt into the new model by contacting Twilio.

As an incentive for early adopters, recording storage and download are free for the first month. Billing for recording storage and download will activate in July 2017.

What’s next for Programmable Video

Group Rooms and Recording is just the next step in making Programmable Video the best platform for WebRTC development–we’ve got lots more in store!

We can’t wait to see what you build!

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