How to Make a Custom Video Calling App
During 2020, the usage of video calling apps dramatically increased. The current circumstances made us all go online, and video calls became a prime means of communication, especially in the work environment. Let us show you the complete strategy of making a custom video chat app that will be able to compete on the market.
2020 brought a true challenge to conducting business and sped up people going online. Online video calls now became the primary means of business and work communication, especially for companies that provide services. Working from home completely changed the usual workflow.
As the demand for video calls increased, so did the supply. The competition in the video chat apps market became really tense. It may seem hard to build an app that will gain popularity, so let us show you the complete strategy of making a custom video chat app that will be able to compete on the market.
Types of video calling apps
First of all, to define what features would become the basis of your app, it is good to identify what industry you want to target to determine all the needs of your audience you want to satisfy. These types of video chat apps can help you choose the most suitable options.
Most popular chat apps WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or WeChat, have a video calling feature that is available for common purposes. The primary focus of such apps is instant messaging, and video calling serves as an added bonus. Users can organize video conferences through them, too, and the time is not limited, but they must take into account the small limit of participants. For example, WhatsApp allows a maximum of four people on the same call.
Entertainment video call apps are basically tools for organizing online parties. It can be a general video call with friends, like Houseparty offers. This app allows you to create a virtual room, hosting a video chat with a limit of eight people. Users can invite each other to rooms and either talk or play games that are included in the app.
Another option for entertainment is a user organizing a live stream on their personal server with friends or a community to play a video game or watch a series, as in Discord. The number of features this service provides is immense, from creating channels dedicated to different topics to integrating a calendar using free API Discord.
The usage of this particular category of video chat apps skyrocketed in 2020, and their popularity isn’t predicted to decrease in the near future. Business video conferencing apps became a true salvation for working from home. They allowed people to gather online, conduct meetings, and perform tasks together almost the way they did before quarantines and lockdowns. Additionally, such apps can be used for education since they can support more than two or three participants.
The most popular software solutions for video conferencing are Zoom, Google Meet, and Skype. They provide outstanding video and audio quality and are able to adjust it according to the user’s Internet connection speed. Most of them have free versions that will let you test the app and choose the most suitable one, but for more functions, you have to buy a paid plan.
Video chat app building strategy
Whatever type of video chat app you want to put on the market, the general building strategy would be the same. Here are the steps to follow:
1. Find your target audience
That is how all product development starts. At the very beginning, you need to define who will use your future product. What devices will be the most suitable: Android, iOS, or desktop? Or all together? Does your audience belong to boomers or gen Z? Do they need it for work? Ask yourself all these questions and get to know your audience as soon as possible.
According to studies, more than 60% of the users of video chat apps are people between the ages of 18 and 29. The rest is made up of users between the ages of 30 and 49. Given those statistics, the younger audience seems to be more appealing for creating a video calling app.
Your audience is going to be the most decisive factor for defining your app’s features. For example, the younger audience would prefer huge personalization possibilities like chat stickers, filters, or background modifications. These features will help your video chat app reach a wider audience.
However, addressing professional or entrepreneurial needs requires a different set of functions. Secure video conferencing is one of the most important aspects of business use, so these applications would have a different tech stack and other prominent features. Exceptional video quality and additional data encryption would become a top priority here, so the businesses will trust a new software solution.
Education, healthcare, communication — each industry has its own pains and needs that must be addressed and resolved, so the target audience will be the most influential part of your business plan for a video chat app.
2. Define your features and value
The next step after finding your audience is shortlisting the necessary features. We already made a list of chat app features that will be necessary for a successful chat solution. Some of them are easily applicable for a video chat app, but calls and the visual form of communication require additional functionality.
For example, in addition to general chat functionality, a video calling app should be able to create a video conference for more than two people, provide security for ongoing video and audio streams, and enable screen-sharing for collective work.
After the list of features is designed, it’s time to think about what makes your app stand out from the crowd. It can be the feature that you focus on the most, like security or customization. Or it can be the message you put into your software solution, like 7pm Thursday did. This app that Yellow worked on has a very clear message: Love is love. It has no religion, no social status, and no gender, and that message defined a part of the functionality: it’s possible in the app to identify yourself as male, female, fluid, non-binary, or transgender.
3. Create a business plan
A business plan will define all the key elements of not only development but the whole product lifecycle. The shortlist below covers the most essential areas that will help businesses formulate the plan:
- Audience segments
- Customer relationships
- Communication channels
- Costs structure
The last part, monetization, identifies the way your app is going to make you revenue. Building the right financial plan is just as important as understanding the tech stack of your video chat app.
There are several popular types of monetization strategies for video chat apps:
- Advertising — The core of that strategy is in-app advertisements that will make the app free for users. You can implement it either using PPC or working with brands. It’s possible to make money per view, per click, or per action.
- Freemium — It proves itself to be the most effective monetization strategy. You can provide some basic functionality for free, and add paid additional functions, like using more sticker packs for chat, applying new backgrounds, or sending larger files.
- Paid calls — This monetization strategy will add paid limits to calls. You can limit the times of calls and the maximum number of participants, and for additional time, users will have to pay.
The business plan is ready, so it’s time to start the development process! The whole creation of the video chat app is a complex process that includes much more than simple coding, but if we try to cluster all activities involved into the app development, it will look like this:
The most crucial part of designing is prototyping. A prototype is a set of black and white screens (wireframes) that show all the main functionality of the app. It’s important not to underestimate this stage: prototyping will let you avoid mistakes in later stages of development, which will save a lot of time and money.
The user experience should always play the leading role in the designing process. This means that the app’s layout should be clear, understandable, and visually pleasing. Functions should not be confusing, and people with different technical backgrounds should be able to use the app.
With well-designed and tested wireframes and prototypes, it’s time to start working on the managing part of the app. You must first set up a server-side framework where the application will be created.
In short, you can build a video conference app using a custom backend and various tech tools, or you can choose a ready-made SaaS-solution. Our team works closely with PubNub and Twilio. Both companies provide services for building apps: PubNub has data-streaming software development kits and Twilio provides users with contact center solutions, WhatsApp APIs, and WebRTC SDK.
WebRTC, or Web Real-Time Communication, is a free, open-source project that provides APIs for enabling communication between users via web browsers and mobile applications. This technology is the most popular for building video calls and allows you to smoothly communicate with iOS and Android chat apps.
Using WebRTC in the app organizes audio and video communication and data transfer at no additional cost. When thinking about the security of a video chat app, first think about the best WebRTC server. This solution is a truly safe choice for professional video streaming, even for businesses such as healthcare, institutions, or finance.
The last step before release is to make sure your code functions as intended. Errors may appear in different parts of code and cause security issues or failure of some functions, and that is why QA matters.
Still, a perfect product launch is impossible. Final users will eventually find something that testers overlooked. Of course, developers will fix it after receiving real-user feedback. However, the lesser bugs and errors your first release version has, the better it is for building trust and loyalty with your audience.
Best video chat apps
Zoom is a cloud-based video conferencing service. This app gained most of its popularity during 2020, and it doesn’t seem to slow down in the near future. Its simplicity and efficiency made it one of the best choices for education and business. The app provides 40 minutes of free conferences for up to 100 participants. More calls and viewers will require buying a plan.
On the contrary, Skype is one of the oldest and one of the most famous video conferencing apps. The number of systems and devices this app covers is immense. Apart from video and audio calling, Skype allows users to share files and send text messages.
Discord is the best video chat app for building communities, especially when we talk about video games. In this app, a user can have a group call with friends, share their screen, or create a live stream so all the participants can watch what is going on in the game.
Google Duo is the best solution for Android users. It has a simple interface, supports some fun features and allows users to record and send video messages, so it’s easy to connect with friends and family.
Building a video chat app now is way easier than it was five or ten years ago. Additionally, their recent popularity also makes a point. In today’s market, a simple and secure video chat app will definitely find its audience.✔Read next: How to Create a Voice Chat App From Scratch
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