Zoom Apps for Makers

Published on
July 21st, 2021
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"Zoom Apps shine in collaboration use cases."
Today we launched over 50 Zoom Apps to empower people to get more done with video communications, together. And we started a journey that will put the video back into video games. You may know Zoom as a SaaS darling that solved one of the harder product problems. The pandemic propelled Zoom to be much more. In addition to remote work, users were also using Zoom to support the education and health care systems and connect with friends and families. As the working world is shifting to a hybrid model with Zoom, today’s launch marks what could be the biggest platform shift in years.
Makers, I wanted to share some of our product thinking. For most of my career, I’ve been a startup founder, seeking out platform shifts. With Zoom Apps, we started with two product objectives based on what developers want: enable effective distribution and provide seamless access to the flexibility and power of the web.

Designed for distribution and the flexibility of the web

Zoom Apps is designed for app store, word of mouth, and viral distribution. For in-product discovery, there’s a new tab for Zoom Apps that opens up an app store. To encourage word of mouth, we added a Share button that, with a single click, screen shares the app window in the meeting. Uniquely, an app can be added on the fly within a Zoom meeting; to foster virality, we added a Send button, so during a meeting you can send the app to all or select participants. It’s oddly fascinating to me to watch an app being adopted in the context of conversation.
We’re running an embedded browser within the client, so Zoom Apps are webviews, and developers can host their web app. Choosing the web stack means we’re building on the shoulders of giants, making it easier to adapt an existing web app or stand up a new one. It also provides flexibility for the developer regarding the interaction they want to create within the webview.
Approved Zoom Apps can leverage the hundreds of publicly documented REST APIs and Webhooks that over 1,500 other app types use in the Zoom App Marketplace. But Zoom Apps mainly use the Zoom Apps Software Developer Kit (SDK), a JavaScript SDK that lets the web app interact with specific client features. For example, several Zoom Apps let a user change their Virtual Background image; and there’s more platform features like that to come. The team is working hard to open Zoom Apps up in the future to any developer who wants to use public documentation and submit an app for review.

Free the flow of work with meeting workflow

Where Zoom Apps shines is collaboration use cases. In the context of unparalleled performant video communication, you can focus on more than just a Screen Share, but an app everyone collaborates through. Click Expand when using a whiteboard app like Lucidspark, Miro, MURAL, or Draw with Scribble Together Whiteboard (which has a nifty iPad extension) to use the full canvas while being able to read the room.
Apps like Dropbox Spaces, Avoma Assistant, and Sesh are native experiences for Zoom Apps with collaboratively editable agendas, meeting notes, and action items. Before a meeting in the desktop client, you can view your list of meetings and prepare the agenda beforehand. During the meeting, collaboratively edit notes and assign action items. After the meeting, you can edit the meeting recap and share it with colleagues.
Zoom Apps are built upon role-based permissions, where data is shared with an app on a limited basis depending on the specific role of the app user in a meeting or webinar. A participant can only share their own profile, whilst a meeting owner can share meeting content and information.
This means that an app for Zoom can be designed to always be available to use, even if it adapts from single-player to multiplayer. Take Notejoy for meeting notes, for example. If you are a meeting participant, you can use it to take personal notes. If a second participant uses Notejoy in the same meeting, you can take shared notes. If the Meeting Owner joins in, since they have permission to share meeting information and content, the shared notes can automatically use the meeting topic, participant list and more.

Putting the video back into video games

Lastly, it’s time to put the video back into video games. During the pandemic, Zoom became not only how people work, but how they play. Combining the best of video communications with a game enables people to be the first class feature in casual video games. Heads Up! adapted for Zoom or Werewolf with Friends are great examples of this. And as the world of work shifts to hybrid, games like Funtivity by Hermis or Team Games will help team building that makes work more enjoyable, and ultimately more productive. Watch this space for more consumer social innovation.

Best practices for Makers

While working with the over 50 apps launched today, some best practices for app developers emerged. First: focus on your feature hook. This is the one feature that you put in the hero image of your app listing, usually something visual that expresses the app’s value (without explaining all the features) and its differentiation. Second, focus on your flows and reduce friction for activation, especially because core virality may occur in a busy meeting. Third, design your app for meeting workflow — what happens before, during and after a meeting.
So come try some Zoom Apps! Let us know what you think and what you're most excited about. We're around today to answer questions.
Comments (7)
Mohan Gummalam
Product enthusiast
Congratulations @ross and the rest of the Zoom Apps team for a successful launch! Please check out "Funtivity by Hermis" app for Zoom at https://www.producthunt.com/post...! Install, enjoy and provide feedback!
Manuela Bárcenas
Head of Marketing @ Fellow.app
This is great! Congratulations @ross. 👏 We're excited to be a part of this big day: https://www.producthunt.com/post...
DesignNBuy Inc
B2C and B2B Web2Print solutions
Thank you for taking the time to put these tips it’s very much appreciated.
Michael Eatonn
Michael Eatonn
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Writer and a teaacher
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