Video Chat App Development Guide: Types, Features & Cost
Video calls have become an integral part of today's communication. Only in the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic was a 500% increase in search impressions for web and video conferencing software. Video call app development industry continues growing in popularity with incredible speed both for businesses and personal use.
Global mobile video traffic numbers are increasing each year. It is estimated that by 2022 it will amount to 60,889 petabytes per month. In 2020, this number was 29,149.
The worldwide web conferencing market is expected to grow by around $19 billion by 2025.
These stats are telling: video conferencing app development is on the rise. So, Softermii’s team which developed 5+ video calling apps in recent years decided to share their knowledge on this topic. Keep reading for details.
Why Video Calling Apps Can Become a Profitable Investment
In 2020, the global video calling apps market was $5.77 billion. In 2021, it reached $6.28 billion. Because the market promises to reach $12.99 billion by the end of 2028, the numbers are impressive.
The demand for video calling app development is huge. Therefore, it generates the supply.
For example, Zoom, one of the well-known video conferencing apps, generated a $2.6 billion revenue in 2020, demonstrating a 317 percent increase year on year. Hopin, another app for video conferencing, is now valued at $7.75 billion. In 2021, it raised $450 million in funding. Discord, an online conferencing platform for gamers, raised another $500 million the same year.
Video calling apps keep growing. The biggest platforms encourage this growth. In 2021, Zoom launched a $100 million development fund to support startups that build extra tools on top of the Zoom platform.
But why are these apps so important for business? Here are the key reasons:
New business opportunity
Adding video chat to an existing app opens your product to a global audience, erasing the problem of accessibility. Video chat is already causing major disruption in healthcare, real estate, and entertainment.
The Awareness and Discovery stages in the classic sales funnel model are the two stages where a pipeline is most leaky and loses most prospects. Coincidentally, these two stages are where a potential new lead has the most questions, marketing efforts be damned. Integrated video chat can solve this issue, instantly connecting the user to a standby sales representative who can help guide them in making their choice.
Online support is critical to any modern business. Having a reliable web-based video chat solution for customer support is vital for improving how your support team works. You can provide better engagement with the user, more service options, and better gauge the quality of service you provide.
Increase teamwork productivity
Your team is already undoubtedly connected through a million communications solutions they already use for their work. So how about just one solution instead? Any proprietary work solution used in your company can benefit from an additional video conferencing option. It's especially useful if some (or all) of your team is working remotely.
Today, it's frankly common to have your data leaked or stolen. You may even find out that your data was stolen years after the fact because it was never disclosed. If you're in any business like healthcare, finance, tech, media, or any industry that involves secret information, security is a priority. Building a video chat app for proprietary use is a significant step towards prioritizing the security of data in your business.
Types of Video Chat Apps
In 2021, Facebook Messenger was the most popular video chat app in the U.S., hitting 87% of all users. FaceTime and Zoom were used by 34% of customers each, Snapchat was regularly used by 28%.
The popularity of different video chat apps is predetermined by the customer behavior patterns and the app features. Obviously, daily communication apps have more everyday users than video conferencing tools.
To understand how the video chat apps differ, let’s analyze three basic types: video conferencing apps, entertainment apps, and daily communication apps.
Video conferencing apps
Video conferencing apps help to host and conduct meetings and conferences online, inviting as many visitors as you may need. Some industries, like healthcare, prefer to develop their own apps, like HIPAA Telmed. The matter is that healthcare apps must meet certain requirements and be compliant with local or regional regulations. Therefore, such popular options as Zoom or Skype cannot be used for telemedicine, for example.
Still, popular video conferencing apps can cover the basic needs of many businesses.
One of the biggest platforms for video conferencing. Allows conducting different types of video events for free. Additional options are available by subscription.
Skype is one of the most popular video conferencing apps with up to 99 users for free. It is used by the small teams in business and for personal use as well.
Hopin is the number one choice for the big conferences, as it allows to conduct events for up to 50,000 members.
Google Meet can cover the needs of small and medium businesses. It allows hosting conferences up to 500 members.
Entertainment video conferencing apps can rarely cover business needs. Yet, they are extremely popular for covering personal needs. Videos have already been integrated into all spheres of our lives, and video conferencing can be used even for communication with your friends and family.
One of the most popular platforms for gamers. The number of members per one conference is limited: only 25.
Snapchat allows hosting a video conference up to 15 members simultaneously. Snapchat is loved by the young generation, as Snapchat filters can be applied to all members during the whole conference.
Read also: How to Create an App like Snapchat
Daily communication apps
There are perhaps the most popular apps for personal usage. We use them daily: for making personal calls or group calls with our friends or family.
In 2020, the number of WhatsApp users reached 2,000 million, which makes it one of the most popular apps in the world.
In April 2021, there were 26 million installs worldwide in Telegram. Obviously, these numbers prove that Telegram should be included in the list.
Facetime is used globally for personal video calls. It also allows conducting video conferences up to 32 members.
No time limit and up to 50 members: although Facebook Messenger is rarely used for business conferences, it has all the necessary features.
Must-Have Video Chat App Features
To understand how to make your own video calling app, you need to know what you're competing with. The leading products in this space have significantly advanced the technology behind video calling in the past few years, and nearly all boast "crystal clear" HQ audio and video.
Registration adds additional security value and makes a video chat app more user-friendly and person-oriented. It's better to provide a user with a choice between sign-up via social networks or fast manual registration.
After the registration, your users receive an opportunity to customize their profiles by adding personal info, profile picture, network status, etc.
Provide your users with quick access to contacts. It should be easy to add participants even during the conference.
Group video chat
Make sure that your application supports group video chats. Each person participating in the conference should choose to switch on and off the camera and microphone.
Virtual Noise Cancellation
Since remote work has become a new normal, virtual noise cancellation is necessary when developing a custom video chat app. With the help of deep learning algorithms, engineers can separate a user's voice from the background and suppress the background sounds with white noise.
This feature simplifies presenting information and allows speakers to share their presentations.
Make sure your video apps have all necessary certificates that help protect the personal data of conference participants.
Text messaging features may come in handy when users on the call can't hear each other, want to send some additional info, or simply cannot talk at the moment.
Emojis and Stickers
This feature adds personalization to those using your app and creates their own story behind the user experience.
Custom Masks and Effects
The casual video chat app market is already used to add new masks and effects to their video call. A socially-focused application will have to contend with huge libraries of effects like Instagram's to compete with them. To build a multi-user video chat app and find a large pool of users, you need to invest in personalization options and the social experience of using your application as a whole.
This simple addition will notify your users about new messages in the chat and missed calls, keep them informed about new updates, and make the app usage experience more enjoyable.
A perfect video conferencing app should have the recording option. It helps to save the meeting if someone cannot attend the conference right now.
Any application you want to have for your business should generate performance reports. In this way, you will be able to track the app's productivity and its value for the business.
Video Conference App Development Options
Before you go into any significant planning on the tech side, you need to make a crucial decision about whether you want to create something specific for your business or if custom options are enough for you. In this way, you will understand how to create a video chat app for your needs.
Video conferencing technology has been around for some time now, and the tech to facilitate it is both varied and ubiquitous. Therefore, it is easy to find something easily applied to your business without extra time on development.
However, if you are working in a specific industry or your business requires the development of special tools, a ready-made solution won’t be an option for you.
For example, we at Softermii offer our clients a video and audio call solution called VidRTC that can aid in development massively. It comes with video and audio chat out of the box and includes crucial features like broadcasting and sharing screen, with up to 49 users on the same media server and easy scale from there. In many cases, it’s the solutions that cover basic needs of many companies. Yet, it may not be enough for you if you build a multi user video chat app for your needs.
If you have some specific requirements, it is always better to contact us and discuss available options and possibilities. We will answer all your questions and help to choose the most effective tools for you.
6 Steps to Create a Video Chat App
If you are sure that ready-made solutions can’t cover your business needs, you may want to create your own video chat app. App development process is complex and demands deep expertise from all team members. In Softermii, the development of a video conferencing app (as well as any other app) integrates the following steps:
Defining target audience
It’s important to understand who is the final consumer of your application. In this way, it will be easier to understand what features we are to use in the app. For example, suppose you need an app for regular video conferences with your partners. In that case, it will be important to integrate a contact list to easily add new members from your contacts to every new conference.
Analysis of the competitors is the basic step to build the feature list and develop UI and UX for your app. If you conduct competitors’ analysis on your own, you can write down everything you like and dislike about the app. This information will be enough for your vendor to develop your app.
Define the features you want to have in your application. They will be used as the basic feature list for your app. As a rule, a vendor will offer you to implement some additional important features to make the feature list more prominent and cover all customers' needs. For instance, a vendor may offer you an onboarding feature to the application to make the user experience more prominent.
Finding a vendor
If you are not sure that your tech team can develop a video conferencing app, it will be better to hire an outsource team. We at Softermii are always ready to build apps for the companies that need our help. Feel free to contact us any time, and we’ll discuss the opportunities.
Designing and development
At this step, it’s important to use all the information you’ve collected in the previous steps. During the design process, make sure the UX and UI reflect all features you want in your app. In this way, it will be easier for front-end and back-end developers to write the code for them.
At the designing and development stage, you will decide on the features you want to have in your app. We recommend implementing industry best practices to make sure your app fits market requirements and user expectations:
- auto muting when not speaking
- calling from any device
- adding visual backgrounds
- implement gallery view for windows
- improve video quality
- adding onboarding feature
- provide fast access to file transfers
QA is one of the most important processes during app development. It allows detecting and fixing bugs and issues before the app is launched. Therefore, final consumers get a perfect product that works correctly, satisfies their needs, and meets their expectations.
Video Chat API vs. Creating Chat from Scratch
How to make a live video chat app? There are two basic approaches: using API or creating from scratch.
For example, building a video chat app from scratch may require high capital for development and infrastructure, dedicated team and resource, requiring both time and money. It also can take months or even years to develop and launch a fully functional product on the market. Thus it requires in-depth planning and execution to update, making scalability complex. However, it can be customized to meet all your business needs.
On the other hand, using readymade APIs provides a free start. It requires a minimum cost as the third party owns the infrastructure, is secure and compliant with most international regulations and guidelines, can be easily scaled with your business, and can be regularly scaled and easily updated.
Video Chat Application Tech Stack
The cost of the development may vary greatly depending on the complexity of the project, number of features, team composition, techstack and deadlines. So how to make a video calling app? The technologies used may be different, but the basic tech stack is as follows:
- React Native
- Node JS
Yet, if you want to develop an advanced app, you have to use advanced technologies for video app development, like WebRTC, VidRTC, Twilio, Mediasoup.
We at Softermii prefer to use these advanced technologies as the basis of our stack and complement them with other technologies.
For example, for our Events10x app, we’ve implemented WebRTC, which allowed us to create a new app faster and integrate all modern features. For us, the possibility to adapt niche technologies to more accessible ones is one of the major principles of app development.
Integrating a Video Conferencing Feature into Existing App
As video conferences gained popularity a few years ago, many businesses faced a problem adding video chats to their existing apps. Fortunately, you can integrate a video chat into a ready-made app.
There are many mobile APIs and engines that you can integrate to any app. Here are the most popular of them:
- Amazon Chime SDK
- CONTUS FLY
All in all, you will need three basic components that will help you to integrate video chats to your app:
- Video SDK Account Credentials
- Server Application
- Client Application
When you create a room for a conference, the server will ask the SDK to validate a new space for your conference. SDK creates a protected access token which later will be used for entering the conference. When the token is validated, the connection is established.
Challenges of Creating a Video Chat Solution from Scratch
Before starting video conferencing application development, you should be familiar with its challenges. After all, forewarned is forearmed.
Development complexity and High prices
Making your own video chat app requires complex infrastructure with enough server capacity and bandwidth. And these things are expensive. Building and maintaining these things will cost time and money if you don't have these managed already. However, there are white label and out-of-the-box solutions that can be easily and quickly adapted and customized to all of your business needs.
Long Development Cycle
You have to prepare yourself for the fact that developing your own video chat app may take a long time. It will require multiple iterations throughout the cycle, and don’t forget about testing and debugging. The whole process from the start to the fully functional market launch may take months or even years. Of course, if you choose to partner with a highly skilled development company with hands-on experience, the development process may be way shorter and smoother.
There have been so many data breaches that one of the main goals when creating a video conferencing app is to make it secure and trustworthy. You have to know the main international security protocols and guidelines and make sure your app is compliant with them. The most common are SOC 2, GDPR, and HIPAA.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Video Chat App?
The cost for a video conferencing application development may vary depending on the number of features you need to implement, platform requirements, and server capabilities.
We've included basic features for a video conferencing app.
Let’s analyze how much video chat app development process may cost:
|Feature||Average hours for either mobile or web app||Average cost|
Video and audio calls
Group Calls (if private calls included)
Final cost and hours
20220112It is important to remember that the total costs of the project will also include the work of UI/UX designers, project managers, business analysts, and quality assurance specialists.
Therefore, the total costs for developing a basic video chat app with video and audio costs can vary greatly, depending on various factors. However, if you want your video chat app development cost calculated, drop us a line and we’ll contact you asap.
Working on video conferencing software development, we help startups to launch their MVP. Also, we help established businesses add video chat to their existing platforms and improve their users' experience.
It's an online and hybrid events service provider which allows organizing conferences & exhibitions with private and group networking. It is delivered through video calls, messaging, broadcasting to over 15000 people, and doing it all simultaneously. The virtual expo software solution development was dedicated to the launch of a huge international online event. Even though we had very tight deadlines, our team aced the whole process and provided the client with a working solution. We're proud to hold an award from the UAE Ministry of Economy for developing the Events10X solution. The ministry could bring over 16,000 local and international attendees online during the pandemic.
To create Events10x, we developed our own customizable engine VidRTC (based on WebRTC) and combined it with third-party technologies to enhance user experience and broader streaming opportunities.
VidRTC is a scalable online video engine that can host video calls and streams. It makes it easy to plan and manage virtual rooms that support over 1,000 people with media servers. We created VidRTC as we'd overseen the growing opportunity for versatile video conferencing and the need for a customizable video streaming solution. As many businesses try to catch the demand or quickly improve their business efficiency, VidRTC saves up to two months of development time.
Main technologies behind VidRTC are .NET Core, WebRTC, ReactJS and MediaSoup. It's SOC2, HIPAA, HL7, and GDPR-compliant, applicable for various niches, and a fully customizable white label solution.
Scoby is an innovative audio and video conferencing app with the following features: AI-generated news feed, private rooms, video calls, room moderation, streaming, broadcasting, gifts & donations, following.The team behind the project faced numerous challenges. We had to conduct market and business analysis in order to find out how the final product should fit the market. Creating a social network app has to require modern standards in order to be competitive, viral, and meaningful.
To create Scoby, we used Mediasoup to support higher loads of users who can use the application simultaneously. Also, we’ve used React Native, Redux, Node.js, AWS, and GraphQL.
Softermii’s CEO Takeaway
There is a ton of interest in new video chatting products. The market is oversaturated by all-purpose products that serve no single niche, particularly opening new contenders to stake their claim. If 2020 was the year of Zoom fatigue and overwrought solutions taking up too much space in the public consciousness, 2021 might be the year of your app taking the world by storm.
If you're interested in building a WebRTC video and voice chat application, reach out to us. The best time to start was yesterday. The second best time is now.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s the process of developing a custom mobile app for realtors that aims at simplifyingand improving the industry and realtor experience. For example, an app for realtors will enablethem to close more deals, help manage multiple properties online in real time, and empowerbuyers to easily choose the apartment and close deals electronically on an Airbnb-like app.
The benefit of creating a video conferencing application is that you can add as many additional features as you want. However, any video chat app should have a list of basic features:
- Profile management
- Contact list
- Video and voice calls
- Group calls
- Text chat
- End-to-end encryption
- Push notifications
First and foremost, you need to find a trusted partner with a portfolio of developed projects, clients' reviews, and recommendations. Choosing a reliable video conferencing software development company means choosing a partner that collaborates with you and tailors software to your needs.
Softermii ensures we deliver the most advanced and secure software that incorporates all your needs, such as IoT, artificial intelligence, conferencing engines, and AR/VR. We develop a video chat app that seamlessly fits your business principles and enhances your market reach, empowering you to stay connected in a digital age.
Hiring a team of software developers would be an option to develop a video chat application. The main advantage is that you can design your application with compulsory features, built-in integrations, and levels of accessibility. Moreover, hiring a team means they could adapt to your security requirements and add as many custom features as you want.
So, how to build a video conferencing app with a team of professionals? Here are the needed steps for creating your video-based software:
- Define the requirements
- Select a team
- Get a proof of concept (POC) or MVP
- Get to know your team
- Choose a tech stack
- Choose the list of technologies
The majority of video chat app development tools are cross-platform. Yet, some technologies differ. For example, Swift on iOS is used instead of Kotlin or Java on Android. You'll also have to apply the tools provided by the App Store for the payment system.
Most technologies for video streaming are the same for both iOS and Android. However, for Android, you'll have to use Kotlin or Java and apply tools for in-app payments provided by Google Play. If you choose to import contacts to your app, integrate Google Contacts API.
The technology stack can vary based on your needs and requirements. However, if you decide to build a video chat app from scratch, in general, consider:
- Data protection and encryptions (AES-256 and HMAC-SHA256 protocols, HIPAA protocol for telehealth solutions, GDPR, etc.)
- Video protocols (WebRTC, VidRTC, Twilio, FFMPEG, GStreamer, Janus, Pion, etc.)