The Dacast platform delivers live streamings using HLS, which is the dominant streaming video protocol. The HLS streaming protocol has some great benefits, especially its compatibility with most devices and modern browsers. Combined with m3u8 links, this type of live channel allows Dacast users to stream directly to mobile devices.
In the past, Dacast users streaming to all-device video players used the m3u8 link feature almost exclusively. This worked well, but it presented some limitations around security functionality.
However, thanks to SDK technology, it’s now possible to live stream securely to Roku, mobile apps, and any other device more securely. There are other benefits to these enhanced mobile live streaming solutions as well.
In this post, we will quickly touch upon the value of building a mobile streaming app before we breakdown both live streaming mobile SKD and m3u8 links. We will take a specific look at m3u8 in the context of Dacast before we discuss why mobile SDKs are the preferred alternative.
Table of Contents
- Why Build a Mobile Video Streaming App?
- What is Mobile SDK for Live Streaming?
- What to Know About Dacast m3u8 Links
- Why Use SDKs for Streaming to Mobile Apps and Set-Top Boxes?
- Building Mobile Apps Using Dacast’s iOS and Android SDKs
Why Build a Video Streaming App?
Approximately 64% of enterprise video viewers access live streams from a mobile device and the average person spends 16 minutes watching videos on their smartphone each day. Additionally, CTV is on the rise, which means that people are accessing OTT videos from their smart TVs.
Although smartphone users can pull up videos on their browser, a dedicated app makes it easier for them to access a video player. A dedicated app also comes in handy for streaming on a smart TV since many of the smart TV operating systems and gaming consoles do not have browser access.
Improving the user experience will help you build a loyal brand following and keep viewers coming back. Building a video streaming app can help better accommodate your viewers.
What is Mobile SDK for Live Streaming?
In the context of live streaming, SDK stands for “software development kit.” The purpose of SDK is to provide the tools required to build an app or program based on another software.
Dacast, for example, offers mobile SDKs for both iOS iPhones and iPads as well as Android devices that are meant to help users build apps around our HTML5 video player. This technology can be used to build apps for Apple, Android, Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, and more.
SDK is often discussed alongside API, which is a similar technology that allows you to integrate two software. API is not entirely relevant in the situation of app development, but it is important to know the difference between the two.
What to Know About Dacast M3U8 Links
A few different components comprise the default live stream configuration at Dacast. The video stream uses HLS delivery with HTML5 technology for playback. These channels also contain m3u8 links. These m3u8 links let the video player know the location of the video content for playback, along with a security token.
We’re written about these security tokens in the past. Via a regular check-in system with Dacast servers, these tokens are responsible for enforcing security policies you may set such as password protection and restrictions.
We call these HTML5 Live Channels in the Dacast management back office. These are set up to use the default configurations for a Dacast live stream.
Dacast has another type of live channel called m3u8 Live Channels. These are designed for compatibility with Roku, other set-top boxes, and for the development of mobile apps.
Unfortunately, these channels don’t support Dacast’s security features, including password protection, referrer restrictions, geographic/IP restrictions, and so on. Since security is a major priority for many professional broadcasters, it is important to have the capability of testing your m3u8 links before you go live.
As the use of internet-connected Smart TVs is rising rapidly, this is a problem we have been working to solve. That is where SDKs come into play.
Why Use SDKs for Streaming to Mobile Apps and Set-Top Boxes?
Dacast is currently developing new SDKs aimed at Roku and other platforms. As opposed to m3u8 links, mobile streaming SDKs make it much easier for you to build and launch mobile and smart TV apps based on your mobile live broadcasts and on-demand video content.
These SDKs will include security tokens in all your live streams. This will allow you to securely live stream on Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, and more.
Using an SDK also allows you to capture full analytics data. On the contrary, an m3u8 only allows the capture of very basic analytics. By using SDKs you can get a better idea of who is tuning into your streams which makes it easier for your to tweak your content to meet their needs going forward.
Building Apps Using Dacast’s iOS and Android SDKs
At Dacast, we already offer iOS and Android SDKs to our users. These live video streaming SDKs integrate with the Dacast API. They make it much easier to develop mobile apps of your own.
Building a video app using an SDK is fairly straightforward, but the exact process will depend on the layout and complexity of your specific app. Dacast also provides complete SDK documentation to help through the process.
Even with access to live streaming mobile SDK, you will still need some technical knowledge to bring your app to life. If you don’t have in-house specialists, you can hire Dacast’s professional services team to help you build apps today. Our trained experts regularly assist businesses and organizations in developing cutting-edge mobile apps, the right mobile live streaming equipment, and many other aspects of live broadcasting.
Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store both take a week or two to approve new apps. Added to development time, we recommend reserving at least a month to create and launch your new video app using Dacast’s SDKs.
Over 33 million U.S. households have cut the cord on their cable subscriptions, opting for online video instead. That means that as a broadcaster, you have the ability to reach these customers natively on both big and small screens. Luckily, with the help of SDK, you can create an app that delivers your live video streams to your audience with no issues at all.
Not yet streaming with Dacast and interested in learning more? You can read all about our live streaming pricing plans to see which is the best fit for you.
In the meantime, why not take advantage of our 30-day free trial to test out our streaming platform for yourself? Create a Dacast account today to start your trial. No credit card required.
For regular tips on live streaming and exclusive offers, you can also join the Dacast LinkedIn group.
Please note that this post was originally written by Max Wilbert. It was revised in 2021 by Emily Krings to include the most up-to-date information. Emily is a strategic content writer and storyteller. She specializes in helping businesses create blog content that connects with their audience.