Whether we realize it or not, communication technologies are deeply woven into our lives. And it’s not just about the Covid-19 pandemic. It only hastened what was supposed to happen anyway. After all, technologies such as video streaming and chatting have greatly simplified our daily tasks. They affect almost all areas of life, especially career, leisure, and relationships. Now, with the emergence of video calling and chat apps, online meetings, job interviews, webinars, and even parties are commonplace.
Popular Video Call Apps
This cloud-based video communication peer-to-peer platform was used by everyone except those who did not use it, and there are not many of them. Zoom now has over 3.3 trillion annual meeting minutes. The platform has the features required for video meetings, such as voting, screen sharing, and the ability to chat during video calls. It is suitable for business meetings, distance education, friendly talks, and more.
The service allows owners of Apple gadgets to communicate via video call. FaceTime is considered private and secure because it uses end-to-end encryption to protect data.
Curious latest audio features implemented in the app include: voice isolation, “Wide Spectrum” mode, and spatial audio. Among the video clips are: a grid mode, like in zoom, and a portrait mode with background blurring. Shared viewing or listening to content with the ability to chat at the same time is also an interesting solution that has been added to the Apple gadget ecosystem.
Surely, those who are registered on the Facebook social network also use its service for instant messaging and video calls. As of 2020, there were about 2.77 billion Facebook Messenger users. The application allows you to create group chats, attach media files to messages, supports calls and voice messages. The service is hardly suitable for business, but just right for friendly communication.
Skype has been a mainstay in the video conferencing market since its launch in 2003 and is still synonymous with video conferencing. Today Skype is used by more than 300 million people, and before numerous competitors entered the market, the number of platform users was 663 million people.
Thanks to its many features, end-to-end encrypted messages, and affordability, Skype remains a significant player in the market.
Since Google Meet was originally designed for business needs, it is equipped with all the necessary features for video meetings and conferences. Conferences on the platform can accommodate up to 500 participants and are held in high quality. Useful features include: live subtitles and their translation into other languages for foreign participants, meeting scheduling, polling, and meeting recording.
The application has a free version with the ability to create conferences for up to 100 participants, which means it is available to all Google ecosystem users.
Now it is difficult to meet a person who has never used Viber. According to some reports, there are about 300 active users of the messenger. As with similar apps, it can be used for chatting and for making video and audio calls. In addition, Viber Out allows Viber users to call regular phone numbers abroad. This feature is Viber’s unique value proposition (UVP) that sets it apart from the competition.
Some non-obvious features that the service offers include: a message translator, a sticker editor, a “stealth” mode, and chat backup storage.
What should you do if none of the existing video chat apps suits you? Well, you have no choice but to create your own product. Of course, this troublesome business should be handled by developers, but if you are not of this kind, you can still contribute to your future brainchild. Let us go on a journey to develop your ideal application.
Must-Have Features for Your App
Registration & Login
When creating a new account, users don’t like filling out large signup forms, so keep them as short and simple as possible. Add only the most necessary items there, such as the account name, password, and phone number or email. For even more convenience, you can add the ability to register through accounts in Gmail, Apple, Facebook.
Here is general information about a particular user’s account, which largely depends on the niche and target audience of the video conferencing platform. Usually, this is a username and password, contacts, links to social networks, payment information, a list of friends, andactivity history. In addition, there should also be an option to configure privacy.
Search and Add Contacts
To implement this function, you need integration with the user’s contact book and a good search engine with easy navigation and the ability to quickly search for participants by login and/or phone number.
Since we’re talking about creating a video chat app, this feature is simply a must-have. Users should be able to chat when a video call is not appropriate or not possible. In addition, it’s great when the participants of the video meeting can also exchange messages and files.
When you implement this feature in your application, make sure it is fast and secure enough. It is also desirable to add reasonable restrictions on the content of the content and the maximum file size.
One-on-One Video and Voice Calls
This feature is what the whole idea of a video calling app development is for. Your main goal when creating such an application is to provide users with the ability to seamlessly communicate through a video connection. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure high-quality video and audio transmission.
The security of user data is a feature of paramount importance. No one wants to use an app if it turns out to be vulnerable to interception of communications or contact details. Therefore, the AES-256 or HMAC-SHA-256 protocols typically provide security for video call applications.
This feature will prevent its users from losing their chats if something happens. All chats are saved and available for viewing. Viber has such a function, which is not set by default, but users themselves decide whether they want to create backup copies of chats or not.
The need for additional features depends on the scope and use case of the video chat app.
If it is finance or healthcare, for example, then support for electronic signatures would be appropriate.
If the application will be used for educational or business purposes, you should take care of expanding the storage and management settings, as well as support for group video calls with a large number of participants.
How to Create a Video Chat App
There are several ways to create a video chat application: development using the CPaaS cloud platform, using a ready-made solution with some of your functions implemented in it, and developing from scratch. The first two ways are less time and money-consuming. However, if you want a custom design and unique features for your video calling app, then you should go for the latter option.
At the very beginning, it is important to understand what your application should be likefor it to be in demand. Particular attention should be paid to the research of current trends and competitors who already provide similar communication solutions. Thus, you can repeat successful experiences or avoid mistakes. Market data allows businesses to build a strategy and minimize uncertainty.
Who is Your Customer?
Any application is created for a specific range of users. Knowing and understanding your target audience is the key to developing a product that would best meet the needs of users. It is up to the end-user to define what features your app should have.
The study of the client’s personality is necessary for correct audience segmentation, and identification of the target audience: age, gender, income level, social status, interests, education, and other parameters. Research helps understand the audience’s problems to offer a communication solution in the form of your app.
Hiring Video Call App Development Team
A full-fledged development team usually consists of a business analyst, UX/UI designers, backend developers, DevOps specialists, Android and iOS developers, QA engineers and a project manager.
Before signing an agreement with a developer company, it is necessary to define the concept of a future video chat application: target audience, niche, functions, design, security, and monetization. It is also important to stipulate the terms, cost, and other details related to the development process.
The user does not see the backend, but its role is crucial. There are two ways to build a backend: development from scratch, or using various SaaS solutions. The first method is less expensive and takes less time. The second one has more flexibility. This means that back-end developers will be able to add new features without any problems, thereby developing the application.
At this stage, UX/UI designers work on the framework. This is a simplified, schematic representation of the application interface, where the main design elements, functionality, and user paths are indicated. When the framework is ready and approved by all parties, a clickable prototype is created based on it – the platform design in the form in which it will be presented to users.
API & SDK
Ready-made technology solutions like SDKs and third-party APIs make it easy to develop video chat applications. Here are the ones that are used most often:
Nexmo API, Twitter Kit, Facebook SDK are used to authenticate app users (through a phone number or a social network or mail).
WebSocket maintains a reliable connection between the application and the server for real-time transmission of information.
PostgreSQL, Amazon S3 are used for long-term storage of user data, texts of correspondence, transferred files and other information.
VoIP provides interactive communication of users via the Internet.
Firebase Cloud Messaging and Apple Push are responsible for push notifications on Android and iOS platforms.
Twilio SDK is a cross-platform SDK for text messaging support.
Wowza GoCoder SDK is a media server to support streaming video.
Vonage Video API is used for HD video quality, screen sharing and voice messages.
Vidyo SDK can build a feature-rich full-featured MVP video conferencing app.
Sending live video/sound using the application is possible due to streaming protocol integration. Typically, these types of software are using three protocols: WebRTC, RTP, and RTMP. WebRTC is the preferred development option because it works on more than one platform and requires only a browser to function. The integration of this protocol ensures high-quality real-time video and audio transmission.
The task of this stage is to ensure the quality of the product: fault tolerance, reliability, and security. QA engineers test the product for bugs and errors. The program code is checked at all stages of software development until the QA engineer is convinced that it is ready for release.
Video Chat App Promotion Strategies
When your great app is released, potential users don’t know anything about it. A complex marketing strategy will help you to rectify the situation. Moreover, you need to start attracting an audience to the application even at the stage of its development. Therefore, a promotion strategy must be drawn up in advance.
Promotion in the App Store and Google Play
For users to install an app, it must be visible in the Google Play and App Store. More than half of visitors install apps after seeing them in the top positions of categories or searches. Therefore, you need a high rating, which largely depends on the number of downloads and reviews.
When hosting an application on a service, consider ASO (App Store Optimization) guidelines for applications. It is similar to SEO but related purely to the correct filling in of the application card.
A good application card includes:
- unique name;
- creative description;
- remarkable icon;
- attractive screenshots;
- promo video;
- modern updates;
- work with reviews.
Before starting a full-scale promotion, it is recommended to conduct a soft launch: find an interested audience that will use your application for some time and leave feedback.
You can offer cash or bonus rewards for installing your app and writing a review. However, this method is not entirely fair and can lead to sanctions.
Video Chat Application Landing Page
Landing is the main user conversion tool that will be used in SMM, crowd marketing, and contextual advertising. It will help to visualize the features of the application, tell about its functionality and give examples of use cases.
A professionally designed landing page will provide high visibility in the search engine results and generate leads for you.
It is necessary to publish articles about your video chat application on those resources that are popular among your audience. This is another reason to know your customer.
A review of the application can be made in the format of an article or a video on the relevant websites or YouTube channels.
It is extremely effective to create a promotional video that can be not only informative but also a little entertaining. If it goes viral, a lot of people will know about your application.
Social Media Promotion
First of all, create official pages on social networks, communities, and app publics where users can communicate, and you can unobtrusively promote the product. Be active by constantly warming up your audience with informative topics, referral contests, etc.
Ask a blogger, an influencer, or an expert in your niche to comment on your app. The review that comes from you is an advertisement, a review from a third party is more like a recommendation.
If some institutions have already started using your application for online conferences or distance learning, ask them to recommend your product on their websites and social media pages. If your product integrates with third-party solutions, contact the companies behind them.
Participation in Conferences
You can significantly increase the level of popularity of your application by presenting it at specialized development, design, and marketing conferences.
Video Chat App Monetization
Any application should bring money to its investors, part of which will be used to maintain and improve the product. Let’s see how our video application is able to generate profit.
It is worth recognizing that few people like advertising, especially annoying and tasteless. Therefore, if you decide to resort to this method of monetization, make sure that it does not cover important parts of the interface and does not spoil the user experience.
This model is the least aggressive and is most often used in video chat applications. In this case, users have access to the main app functions, and additional goodies and are available for a fee. Some limit the number of participants in a video call, or the duration, which can be extended by purchasing a subscription.
Paid Stickers and Calls
People love to liven up their messages with stickers. Therefore, creative sticker packs or the ability to create custom ones may be available for a fee.
Video Chat App Development Price
The cost of a video chat app depends on several factors, such as the complexity of development (e.g. design, features, technology stack, etc.), the platform the app will run on (Android, iOS, or both) and rates set for hiring a development team.
A basic version of a video calling app with a simple set of features and running on a single platform will cost up to $60,000. It will take 3-6 months to develop it.
The cost of developing an application of medium complexity will already be multiplied by two with a deadline of 4-9 months.
If you take on the development of an advanced cross-platform software stuffed with all sorts of the latest technological innovations, its cost can rise to $240,000. It usually takes 9 months or more to build a complex video app.
FAQ about Video Chat App Development
What technology stack is needed to build a video chat app?
There is an abundance of technology that can be applied to the development of video chat applications, but the basic technology stack usually looks like this:
Android-based app: Java (or Kotlin), Android SDK
iOS app: Swift, iOS SDK
Frameworks: Angular, Spark, Node.js
API and SDK: Wowza GoCoder, Twilio, OpenTok
Database servers: PostgreSQL, MySQL
Streaming protocol: WebRTC
How to develop a video chat app from scratch?
If you are asking this question, it is better to seek help from professionals. The best thing you can do for your future application is to have a clear idea of what it should be. Decide what type of application you need: for business, education, daily communication, or entertainment. Think about what features you want to see in your brainchild, and the developers will take care of the rest.
Are video chat applications secure?
To ensure the privacy and security of their customers’ data, most video applications use encryption. However, some applications such as Facebook Messenger are not encrypted.