The Azure Communication Services team is excited to share several new product and feature updates released in January 2023. (You can view previous blog articles here.)
This month’s update describes the features below:
Background blur and custom backgrounds
Webview support for iOS and Android
Early media support in call flows
Background Blur and Custom Backgrounds for Calling
Background blur and custom backgrounds in the ACS SDK 1.10 is now available in public preview. This feature enables developers to build background visual effects and background video replacement into the calling experience.
Background blur provides users with the mechanism to remove distractions behind a participant no matter the location, so that participants can engage in free exchange of confidential information without disruptive activity or confidential information appearing in the background. This is especially useful in a context such as telehealth, where a provider or patient might want to obscure their surroundings to protect sensitive information or PII (personally identifiable information). Background blur can be applied across all virtual appointment scenarios to protect user privacy, including telebanking and virtual hearings. In addition to enhanced confidentiality, the custom backgrounds capability allows for more creativity of expression, allowing users to upload custom backgrounds to host a more fun, personalized calling experience. This feature is currently available on Web Desktop and will be expanding to additional platforms in the future.
Azure Communication Services now supports WebView for iOS and Android, offering even greater flexibility for developers to build the Calling Web SDK into mobile platforms of their choice. When developers are building a calling experience within an app, Webview enables end users to open a link and make their call directly within the native app. By doing so, end users can join the call in an embedded browser without having to navigate to an external web browser for a fully integrated native, in-app experience.
Check out the QuickStart for details on how to run webapps developed with the Azure Communication Calling Web SDK in a WebView environment.
Early Media support in Call Flows
Azure Communication Services now offers access to early media to improve PSTN or telephony Call flows. Early media refers to the audio and video that are exchanged before a call is established with the recipient. When a caller dials a telephone, the phone emits sounds and tones which are streamed as dual tone multi-frequency (DTMF) to signal user intent. The session border control (SBC) handles the media exchange by transmitting data through a voice channel. Early media like DTMF is beneficial as it allows developers to verify call destinations and nominations to enable automated IVR and/or voicemail scenarios downstream.
You can read more about this and other scenarios in our Call flows basics documentation.
UI Library – Chat composite for mobile native development
The public preview of the Chat composite, which is capable of delivering real time text messages, is now available in the UI Library for Mobile platforms. This is the first step required to provide developers with the capability to create applications that connect and interact closely with their consumers. This “plug and play” functionality is easily added to any mobile app. Chat composite is available for native development iOS and Android platforms.
The Chat composite is a bridge between the Chat APIs and UI libraries that brings a beautiful user experience to your app and can be used in several scenarios. The Chat composite can be integrated in navigation view or open a modal view mode. In either scenario, the composite will automatically adjust and ensure that your user has a seamless experience.
You can learn more about the Chat composite in the Overview or how to implement in the Quickstart guide.