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Intro to 3 Flowplayer Video SDK's

The acronym SDK stands for “software development kit.” This is essentially a set of tools for building software that will work with a specific platform.

7 minutes read
Intro to 3 Flowplayer Video SDK's

Intro to 3 Flowplayer Video SDKs [Plus a Real-World Use Case!]

If you’re reading this post, chances are good you already know what an SDK is – you’re just here to find out if Flowplayer has video SDKs that are worth your business’s time and dev resources!

But in case you need a refresher, the acronym SDK stands for “software development kit.” This is essentially a set of tools for building software that will work with a specific platform. In Flowplayer’s case, it means a new way of presenting our player in another application (i.e. wrapping your own code around the Flowplayer client).

We’ve invested in the development of three native SDKs so you can provide your audience a better user experience in conjunction with the core Flowplayer product. In this introductory SDK guide, we’ll look at the different SDKs available with Flowplayer, along with 3 example use cases to get the most value out of this additional functionality!

Getting to Know the 3 Flowplayer SDKs

First of all, if you check out Flowplayer’s documentation, you’ll see three currently available native Flowplayer SDKs that you can work with:

Flowplayer’s Android SDK helps you develop an app for the Android ecosystem of mobile devices, while the iOS SDK covers Apple’s iPhone (and the related tvOS SDK handles Apple TV set-top boxes).

At the time of this writing, these are the only native SDKs you can tap into, but we plan to continue providing more resources for developers who want to create feature-rich apps that can amplify the value of Flowplayer for their customers.

One other note: if you or your dev team want to work with our Android, iOS, and tvOS SDKs, then you’ll need to be familiar with the languages and tools associated with each one. Android SDK is a native media player written entirely in the code language Kotlin and requires knowledge of Android Studio and Gradle – while the iOS and tvOS SDK players are written entirely in Swift and require knowledge of Swift and Xcode.

Why Use an SDK at All?

Before we get too deep into some of the key features of our SKDs, it’s worth answering the big question that’s probably on your mind: why bother using a Flowplayer SDK in the first place? The Flowplayer web player product works just fine, right?

Well, yes – but that doesn’t mean it does everything you could possibly want it to do!

By default, when a user accesses your video via the Flowplayer web player on a mobile device, they’re doing so through the web browser. Accessing a Flowplayer-powered video through a mobile page essentially sets up a middleman between the video player and the hardware itself, which means some of the device’s hardware features are impossible to access.

Now, there is a lot you can do to customize the web player (see our intro to Flowplayer plugins guide for some ideas), but there are still limitations that you can overcome with a native app that taps into the SDK.

Key Features of Flowplayer’s SDKs

Below are some of the most important features of our SDKs:

  • Supports a range of video formats.
  • Full screen playback and configurable device orientation management.
  • Callbacks for monitoring a wide range of player events.
  • IMA3 based VAST and VMAP ads.
  • Customizable user interface.
  • Analytics for Flowplayer platform videos (Flowplayer-hosted and registered remote assets) with the Analytics plugin.

At a high level, these SDKs make it possible to provide an even more tailored viewing experience, including a range of video formats, management for device orientation, a customizable UI, and more!

Most importantly, there are many nice-to-have features that you can provide through a custom app that taps into the SDK media player. The following is just one great example!

Case Study: News Media Mobile App

We’ve talked about the purpose of SDKs at a high level so far, but this has mostly been theoretical. Now, let’s talk about what all of this looks like in practice!

A short while ago, one of Flowplayer’s customers – a Swedish news media outlet – had a perfect use case in mind for the Flowplayer SDK.

This company wanted their customers to be able to play their video content in the background without having to keep the phone screen on. That’s because their news show runs every day in the mornings and at 5 pm, both of which coincide with people’s commutes – and this media company wanted to make sure their viewers could still consume their content while driving or bicycling.

If you were to play Flowplayer in web view on a media browser like Apple’s Safari, it would stop playback whenever you turn the phone screen off. But by designing a quality news site app with Flowplayer’s SDK, this news outlet could provide their customers with a tailored user experience that included hardware features on both iOS and Android.

And yes, that included the much-touted ability for users to keep consuming their news content with screens off. Ultimately, this story is just one example of a simple but valuable feature that could suit many customers in a range of verticals and industries!

Additional SDK Features

One of the other prized features you can provide through the video SDK is a good floating player.

In the case of our big media client, this means that users in their news app could leave an article they were reading and go to another page right inside the app, but still have a floating/sticky player continuing to play whatever video they were watching.

That’s not an easy thing to do in web alone.

Native vs Web App vs Hybrid

We just touched on the value of being able to communicate with the device hardware to provide features that wouldn’t be possible in a mobile browser or set-top TV browser, from continued playback with screens off to versatile floating players.

What makes our SDKs so powerful is that they can open up exclusive features that your customers need! But depending on your situation, it doesn’t necessarily require you to invest in costly app development

For some Flowplayer customers, a simple web app may be sufficient. In this case, you’re basically just wrapping your existing mobile website into an app that people can download and use like any other app.

On the other hand, a native app with a full custom codebase can fully tap into the power of our SDKs and harness all of the hardware features and customization options we’ve been talking about.

Lastly, there’s the hybrid app, which is flexible enough to detect the Flowplayer web player and replace it with the SDK player on a case-by-case basis. That way, you can still provide those unique native features to instances of Flowplayer video content, while relying on the web app for everything else.

There’s no single right way to configure everything, but the whole point of this guide is to get you thinking about what kind of improvements you could offer your audience in terms of user experience – and then build whatever you need to build to deliver it!

How to Build a Project with Our SDKs

Okay, actually guiding you through building a native app with any of our SDKs is beyond the scope of this introductory guide – but I will provide a few quick pointers!

First of all, things change quickly in the development world. If you’re building an app or writing a codebase, you should always consult with the official documentation for your code language and tools of choice, such as this Apple Swift developer guide for iOS.

Second of all, it’s important to think about your own audience and how they access your video content. There may be instances where it’s only worth developing for iOS, or Android, and not both. With that said, if you do build an app, always do your best to provide the same configuration across OSes to create a seamless user experience.

Conclusion

I hope this guide on Flowplayer’s video SDKs has been helpful! There’s always more to say about a subject like this than we can fully cover in a single article, but I’ll leave you with this bottom line:

Flowplayer SDKs can provide an improved, more feature-rich experience for your viewing audience.

With greater flexibility and access to additional hardware features, your SDK-powered app has more control over how your content is delivered – and may sometimes even deliver smoother playback and better performance!

Ultimately, whether you’re a developer, project leader, or executive, you know the value of video content. Flowplayer is here not only to provide the best possible VOD and streaming player product, but also to give you the tools you need to achieve your unique business objectives!

If you want to know more about our SDKs, be sure to check out our native Flowplayer video SDK documentation.

And once you’re ready to give Flowplayer a test drive, we provide a totally free Explorer plan to help you decide if our platform is right for you.

Lastly, please contact us if you’re interested in pricing options. We’ll work with you to create a custom Flowplayer plan that’s perfect for your business!