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Video Chat App Development Guide: Types, Features & Cost

19 May 2021 • 7 min read
Video Chat App Development Guide: Types, Features & Cost
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Slava Ivanov
Slava Ivanov
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Slava Vaniukov
Written by Slava Vaniukov
Co-Founder and CEO at Softermii

Video calls have become an integral part of today's communication with over 175% increase in regular live video usage among millennials in just the last 3 years, according to TokBox. We can see that video chat apps are growing in popularity with incredible speed both for businesses as well as personal use.

Moreover, respondents in a 2019 survey reported an increase in cloud-based video conferencing application needs. These stats are telling. Video conferencing app development is on the rise.

If you're one of the hopefuls looking to start a new line of business and asking how to build a video chat app, we're here to help. Read on to learn why add video chat to an existing application, how to do it, and how we can help.

BENEFITS OF BUILDING A VIDEO CHAT APP

You know the market for video chat apps is growing, but what about the market's players? Before you decide to make a video chat app of your own and try to get a piece of the $8.67 billion pie, you need to know all the benefits open to you.

New Business Opportunity

Businesses with an existing customer base can gain a lot by providing a new line of communication. Adding video chat capabilities to an existing app will open your product to a global audience, erasing the problem of accessibility. Video chat is already causing some major disruption in healthcare, real estate, and entertainment.

Sales Growth

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 the ones 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.

Customer Support

Online support is critical to any modern business, and especially those in B2C. 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.

Security

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

There's an important distinction that we need to make before you can declare you want to make your own video calling app — the types of video chat apps out there and what differentiates them. By purpose, we can define three types of video chat apps:

TYPES OF VIDEO CHAT APPS

Professional Communication

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.

Professional communication requires a video chat app to have a number of use-cases that are critical for remote collaboration (not just communication). This can include call recording, sharing files, screen sharing, dialing in by phone, and others.

Zoom is dominant in this space, boasting trillions of yearly meetings and millions of daily downloads. Google Meet is close behind. Skype and Teams are in the mix, as well

This is quite a crowded niche filled by tech giants who have been in the game for years. If you want to compete with them and build a video conferencing app in this space, you'll need both technical superiority and marketing prowess to contend in this corner of the market. The good news is that after 2020, the consumer is revolting against Zoom, Meet, and the like — the world may be ready for a new, better video chat for work.

Professional Communication

Social Video Chat

Social video chat is about simplicity and interactivity. Features like masks and filters, .gif support, and a mobile-first design are key to attract a broad audience. After all, to work, this app needs to have all your friends on it (see: Clubhouse).

Video chatting is prominent across all Facebook products — Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp — with a huge pool of contacts and even a screen-on-screen feature, giving you the option to browse while you talk. FaceTime is a strong contender (despite lacking in features) due to the fact that it comes shipped with half of the phones on the planet. Zoom, Meet, and Skype are also quite often used for social video chatting for their capability of hosting many users in the same room.

This category is even more crowded than professional video calling, but it also features some recent entrants like Houseparty that show you can win through innovation. In fact, some startups are going one step further:

Social Video Chat

Video Social Networking

Video social networking is different from adding a video chat feature to an existing social network, rather it's a social networking platform that envisions video chat as a core element of the experience.

Discord is perhaps the largest app of this type. They were ahead of the curve, adding a video call capability in October 2017 and have significantly developed the feature by expanding rooms to 50 people and recently adding a live streaming option. There's also Bunch, who have recently secured $20 million in funding, by targeting casual gamers.

New contenders in this space, video-first social networks that aim to appeal to broad audiences, have an eager and open market to contend with. Both venture capital and industry insiders find this market niche quite appealing, as well.

5 MUST-HAVE VIDEO CHAT APP FEATURES

To build your own video chat app, you need to know what you're competing with. The leading products in this space have advanced the technology behind video calling significantly in the past few years, and nearly all boast "crystal clear" HQ audio and video.

Social Video Chat

Group video chat

This is the trendiest new feature in the game, with a myriad of apps coming out with a feature like this in the past year. To compete, your product must allow up to eight users per call (at least), as well as various functions for whoever is speaking, listening, and moderating at any given time. Building a video chat app that focuses on group calls may also be advantageous from a marketing point of view.

Group video chat

Screen and Desktop Sharing

Collaboration on video chat can be impossible without the ability to share multimedia live during meetings and Zoom became a staple at socially distanced watch parties during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an absolute must-have not just for desktop users, but recently mobile apps, as well.

Screen and Desktop Sharing

Security Features

Safe and secure data protocols are a crucial part of any modern business and any CTO looking to sign up for a new product will be raising this question before all others. Beyond that, the larger public contention on online privacy is pushing this issue to the forefront of the consumer's decision and news of leaks and failures can stick — just ask Zoom. The focus on privacy and security has even helped messengers Signal and Telegram with their own video chat functions to capture a significant portion of the market.

Security Features

Custom Masks and Effects

The casual video chat app market is already used to the ability to add new masks and effects to their video call. To compete with them, a socially focused application will have to contend with huge libraries of effects like Instagram's. To build a multi user video chat app and find a large pool of users, you need to invest into personalization options and the social experience of using your application as a whole.

Text Messaging

Text messaging features are a must in any social application. Moreover, .gifs, emojies, sharing media in chat, and all the accessories of modern text messaging will apply to video calling app development, as well.

VIDEO CONFERENCING APP DEVELOPMENT OPTIONS

Before you go into any significant planning on the tech side, you need to make a crucial decision about whether you'd like to reinvent the wheel. Video conferencing technology has been around for some time now and the tech to facilitate it is both varied and ubiquitous. So are you looking to develop a brand new video chat solution from a pre-existing protocol like WebRTC or use a SaaS solution, i.e., integrate Zoom's Video Conferencing SDK? The next steps look drastically different in either option.

Softermii's proprietary video and audio call solution called VidRTC can aid in development massively. It comes with video and audio chat out of the box, and also includes crucial features like broadcasting and sharing screen, with up to 49 users on the same media server and easy scale from there. Want to know more? Contact us and we'll be happy to tell you how it works.

SOFTERMII'S EXPERIENCE

We have tons of experience with video live chat app development and have helped several startups launch their MVP, as well as helped a host of established businesses add video chat to their existing platforms.

One of our recent undertakings was teaming up with Events10x to build a hybrid online/offline events platform that allows hosting rooms with audiences up to 15000 users. Another recent project was Scoby, a social app focused on video and audio chats front and center. We also worked on HIPAA Video, one of the leaders in the telehealth category, on adding video conferencing solutions to their product.

SOFTERMII'S CEO TAKEAWAY

There is a ton of interest out there in new video chatting products. The market is oversaturated by all-purpose products that serve no single niche in particular, which creates an opening for 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 may be the year of your app taking the world by storm.

If you're interested in building a WebRTC video and voice chat application, feel free to reach out to us. The best time to start was yesterday, the second best time is now.

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