Today Twilio is holding its annual Signal conference and the company uses the event to announce a host of new products and features as usual. For the most part, these are not innovative new features, especially if you’re a web or mobile developer. After all, the main services for Twilio have been in operation for a while now. Instead, some of the edges of the overall Twilio product ecosystem are constructed by today’s announcements.
At least from the viewpoint of most developers, the most interesting launch is probably the general availability of Twilio’s Video Site RTC Go. You can add 1:1 video chats to your site and smartphone apps thanks to the free video service. The company observes that this is not a free trial, but via Twilio’s relays every month, or around 100,000 participant minutes, you are limited to 25 GB of bandwidth. You get logging and diagnostic capabilities as well. So, I suppose, freemium, but with generous limits to get you started. You can upgrade to a higher tier when you need more.
Earlier this year, Twilio acquired Electric Imp, the IoT hardware, and software specialist, and when it first launched its IoT efforts, it began with cellular connectivity through its Super SIM device. The concept behind the Microvisor IoT platform is to provide all the resources they need to create connected devices and lifecycle management tools for embedded developers to keep them updated and secure.
As Twilio IoT’s GM, Evan Cummack, told me, as the company dug deeper into the IoT business, it discovered that a lot of projects were struggling.
“When we delved into what was going on personally with our clients, what we found was the explanation for a lot of these failures,” he explained. Often, in terms of what end-users needed, or end-user experience, or importance and business models, it was a fundamental misjudgment, but a lot of the time, it was a technological failure, or it was that the technical problems were so steep that the equation of ROI fell apart. To justify the technological effort required, you could not produce significant enough value.
Twilio has purchased a full-stack network with Electric Imp, and there are others on the market like it. But most corporations don’t buy them, as Cummack noted. Instead, they are trying to develop their solutions from scratch, and Twilio hypothesized that they were doing so because they needed these devices to be able to write native code. It is difficult to combine that with the ease of a full-stack framework.
The approach that the team came up with blends this modern tech framework with Arm’s latest hardware innovation: TrustZones. But the Microvisor platform only runs on devices that use the new Cortex M-based processors, with Arm’s TrustZone hardware isolation feature at its heart, which means that it is not a service you can use to update your existing solutions. In exchange, users, in addition to remote debugging features, get stable boot features, over-the-air firmware updates, and stable tunnels to connect to their computers.
The goal here is to provide consumers with a better understanding of how these platforms are used, and less so to understand their bills and more to help them develop resources that allow companies to better understand how they communicate with customers.