Sharing videos is a great way to feel connected with friends and discover new content. But with unsynchronized playback and lag times, users can’t ensure that they’re watching a video at the same exact time as their friends.
To solve this problem, we created Together Stream - a social and synchronized streaming experience that allows users to stream content together in real time. Our solution includes an iOS app, available on the App Store, and a web app for those who want to view on desktop.
At the beginning of this project, our team was asked to build a streaming application that would showcase a new IBM technology called Contextual Sync. Contextual Sync is an open source, real-time, continuous data sync service for web, IoT, and mobile.
We explored a variety of potential use cases that would highlight this technology and after conducting extensive market research, we decided to focus on video streaming. We then interviewed users about their streaming habits, documented their pain points, and created a user flow addressing these needs.
Users can create a stream and select trending videos or search for their personal favorites. After inviting their friends to tune in, the stream will play across all devices and provide everyone with a completely synchronized experience. The stream host has full control to pause, restart or skip the current video, or choose a new one from their queue. Users can chat about the current video or suggest something different to be played next.
After completing the mobile app, we extended the experience to web so that users could view on desktop as well. We initially wanted to create a fully flushed out web experience, complete with the ability to start streams and invite friends. However, with a tight deadline looming around the corner, we decided to cut the scope so that users could only join streams on web, not start them.
When a host starts a stream on mobile, they can invite friends who have not yet downloaded the app. If they become interested in Together Stream, they are prompted to visit the App Store to get the full experience. By cutting the scope, we were able to deliver a complete user experience that showcased the power of Contextual Sync across both web and mobile.
Created at the IBM Cloud Experience Lab