Before COVID-19, video calling was something people marveled about and used mainly for recreational and entertainment purposes. After the pandemic struck, video conferencing became a necessity. This tool has played a vital role in keeping the global economy alive by allowing people to communicate without physical contact. It all leads to the point when the future of video conferencing is bright, and video call application development is a profitable thing to consider.
Overall, there is sufficient evidence to show the growth of the video calling app market. Fortune Business suggests the video conferencing market will reach $10.9 billion by 2027 from $5.3 billion in 2019. It shows the market doubling in a matter of 8 years. Moreover, the latest evidence by TrustRadius illustrates a staggering 500% rise in web conferencing due to COVID-19.
The report offered by Juniper Research anticipates about 4.5 billion users of video conferencing apps by 2025. As a result, the sufficient evidential foundation supports the key idea. There will be enough demand for video calling app development, and there will be enough users who want new apps to emerge.
So, with the demand factor being covered, it is time to understand how we can offer a supply. Simply put, companies looking to develop new video calling apps need to know how to do that properly. Luckily, app development is not the area where you need to invent the wheel. Many software development companies failed and succeeded while engaging in trial and error to understand the steps necessary to develop a mobile app that will stand out on the market and will bring profits. Further, we will explore those steps as a part of the comprehensive and in-depth guide to video calling app development as the phenomenon under investigation.
The Overview of Mobile Video App Development Market
When thinking about the preliminary steps toward the video app creation process, one of the first aspects is establishing the context and understanding the background. We have scratched the surface of the video app market size above. Yet, there are more things to consider. First and foremost, in the United States alone, the video conferencing market is expected to grow from $6.8 billion to $14.5 billion by 2029 (see Fig. 1).
It correlates with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.3%. Statista shows that one of the rising stars in video conferencing, Zoom, posts a staggering 317% yearly growth. Besides, smaller video calling apps like Discord and Hopin raised massive investments from 2021-2022. Finally, TechCrunch reported Zoom is starting a $100 million development fund for startups expanding toolkits for video conferencing apps. While it may sound ambiguous, it all happened thanks to the pandemic. It greatly pushed the video calling app market and created perfect conditions for new entrants to emerge.
With more and more people working remotely and the entire shift in conventional working paradigm-shifting, more and more companies will use video conferencing for myriad reasons and purposes. We have shown that the rise of video calling apps users will be massive; soon, almost half the global population will use one. One can expect demand to reach levels where supply will be hard to keep up. It is worth restating that these stats and insights project a bright future for the video calling app market. They suggest video calling app development, something many software development companies need to consider.
Is Video Calling App Development a Good Investment Opportunity?
Having enough users and knowing that the market is growing is good. Yet, it does not mean that video calling app development is a good investment opportunity. Companies like Zoom appeared in the right place and at the right time. The key question is whether there will be enough profits for every market player to have a piece of the pie. When answering this question, we should focus on several primary aspects of making video calling a good investment opportunity.
All businesses wonder how to scale without harming aspects like quality or customer loyalty. If you have a running application, adding a video chat option opens your product or service to another audience level. It erases the issue of accessibility. A simple example, many healthcare companies managed to scale their businesses by adding video chat into service provision and thus calling it mHealth. And it worked. It brought business expansion and innovative services boating the patients’ quality of life. Yet, you need to know some specific moments before engaging in mHealth video app development.
Besides, Gartner suggests that about 86% of all job interviews are done via video conferencing. It helps expand the employee pool and cut the costs of staffing. All these elements bring easy and efficient scaling through mere video conferencing integration.
The sales funnel model directly relies on the awareness and discovery stages. These are the points when the entire pipeline can be redirected toward boosts or losses. In addition, marketing leads have most conversations during the phases and need to stay in touch as close as possible. With video conferencing software, marketing professionals can coordinate the awareness and discovery stages while addressing all potential issues in time. As a result, the integration of video call apps into business operations paves the way for the marketing department to boost sales.
Every business desires its clients to be loyal. Yet, brand loyalty is a phenomenon achieved through massive efforts. Customer support plays an integral role in the process. Forbes suggests that video conferencing is a new handshake. It can help a person feel a personal touch or be cared for without physical contact. A reliable web-based video conferencing solution within the customer support department can help boost the work of support teams and offer a much better engagement with users. Video app conferencing improves the quality of customer services your company provides drastically.
To be honest, data security is a vital concern in the modern digitalized world. Statista indicates about 18 million data breaches happened worldwide. While there are third parties a company can involve to boost security, it is often most beneficial to have internal data security tools. In such a case, if a firm operates in the industry with security being a top priority, developing a video conferencing app for proprietary uses can be considered a massive stop toward data securitization. Keeping that in mind, video call application development is the process one can direct to various industries.
What Industries Use Video Conferencing Applications?
It is highly unlikely that some new technology is applied in one industry only. The same is true about video conferencing. The general scope of industries video conferencing is used to is broad. Statista shows that the total app market is worth about $420 billion. Respectively, such a massive stream of revenues is shared by segments in a particular order of industries (see Fig. 2).
These are industries where video conferencing can be potentially applied. At the moment, the phenomenon proved most beneficial in the following segments:
Video conferencing coincided with the advent of e-learning models that help break the geographic boundaries between students and teachers. Online learning has become a new trend.
Besides, many organizations adopted e-learning tools at the workplace to take employee training to another level. As companies and educational institutions faced the adverse impact of COVID-19, they managed to survive. And video conferencing has played not the last part in that. The technology will grow within the educational industry even further. It will open even greater access for learners all over the world.
For years, video conferencing has not been that popular among healthcare providers. It happened due to poor access to health services, especially for people living in remote locations. However, with video conferencing becoming more accessible and easy to use, telemedicine and mHealth were born.
Grand View Research evaluates the global mHealth market at $50.7 billion in 2022. Statista anticipates this market to reach $247 billion by 2025. Knowing this, building a telemedicine app or developing a mHealth video streaming app is something software companies cannot afford to overlook. Video conferencing can bring and is bringing positive change to healthcare.
CNBC reports the gaming industry reached a staggering $188 billion in 2022. Besides, the number of people using gaming networks is expected to be 112 million by 2024. The developers of various streaming platforms like Discord and Twitch stand at the forefront of such massive growth of this industry. Video conferencing allows players to take the gaming experience to another level. With the growing gaming network users, there will be a corresponding demand for video conferencing apps.
The industries, as mentioned earlier, do not exhaust the list of segments where video calling apps can be of massive use. Nevertheless, these segments illustrate how the technology can thrive under proper conditions and help boost the entire industry.
Key Types of Video Calling Apps
As you might have noticed, at the moment, we have been using different names like video conferencing and video calling. Because we offer a comprehensive guide here, it is crucial to differentiate between the definitions. To be more precise, there are three types of video streaming apps.
1. Video Conferencing Apps
These are the ones most widespread. Companies and organizations use video conferencing apps for large meetings. They are beneficial for businesses, schools, and workplace environments. There are broadly recognized video conferencing apps like Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, and Hangouts. However, some industries have developed more specific and secure video conferencing apps, like this HIPAA-compliant Telmed app used in healthcare. Now, it is prime time for this kind of video streaming apps.
Google showed a 30x demand increase for Google Meet during COVID-19. Besides, we have talked about the rise of Zoom earlier. However, to picture how much money the company gained, consider the following figure:
The business’s stock peaked at a whopping 817%. All these facts indicate video conferencing apps are the most popular, as well as the ones worth investing in. This type of app is worth considering the first when it comes to video call application development.
2. Video Calling Apps
In the second place comes video calling apps. These are used for instant messaging coupled with video calls. Think WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, and FaceTime. In contrast to video conferencing apps, these cannot handle many users having a video chat simultaneously. However, you can arrange small conferences with any of the aforementioned video calling apps.
There are many more reasons to use this kind of video streaming apps continuously. Even though video calling apps come second, it does not mean they should not be considered when developing a video streaming app. Hundreds of millions of users are always on the lookout for new video-calling candidates to emerge.
3. Entertaining Apps
The name speaks for itself. These apps are for entertainment. Some of the apps of this type people use for gaming, like Discord, and others are for mere boredom fighting. You can play games, watch videos, and do all kinds of things with entertainment apps. Along with Discord, some other notable mentions are Houseparty and Rave. The former was designed and developed by Epic Games. It is a social network with the possibility of video calling. In turn, Rave is a video streaming app putting together different streaming services and video platforms. Overall, with the app, you can have all the videos and movies you want in one place.
General Features for Video Calling Apps
When it comes to video calling apps, one cannot imagine them without particular features. Therefore, we should separate the given elements into must-have and unique categories for briefness’ sake.
The must-have video calling app features are the following:
- Registration. The feature makes the app more person-oriented and secure. Usually, a user can sign-up with social networks, Google, or use manual registration.
- User profile. The place where a user can customize and personalize their profile. It is a basic feature for personal data management.
- User status. As a must-have feature, it tells other users whether you are available for a call. The element allows finding the best time to have a conversation.
- Contact list. This feature grants quick access to user contacts. The element needs to have an option of adding, editing, and deleting contacts.
- Text messaging. The feature is handy when users’ mics are muted and cannot hear one another. Besides, text messaging can be used to share info and files.
- Group video calling. When developing an app, it is vital to have a group video chat feature. Besides, each participant must have an option to switch off and on their cameras and microphones.
- Noise cancellation. The feature helps separate a user’s voice from background noise and suppresses the latter. Usually, developers use a deep learning algorithm to achieve that.
- Recording. The feature is self-explanatory. It proves important if not all participants attend a video conference and can later watch the recording.
- Security elements. The feature entails security measures that help protect the personal data of users. There should be sophisticated encryption involved. We will speak on this aspect later.
These are features that any video conferencing app must-have. Users are used to the elements mentioned above, and not having one can pose a massive threat to the app’s appeal.
Yet, if you have time, effort, and money, there are some additional features to consider:
- Data backup. This option protects the user information from being accidentally deleted. The process is automatic; often, users cloud to store a backup of a user’s profile.
- Screen sharing. The feature helps make presentations more feasible. It increases the efficiency of communication yet requires better hardware to handle.
- Background change. You can use this feature and select from various backgrounds if you do not have a proper background at home. It helps keep your matters private.
- Customized effects and masks. The socially-focused feature is often used in video calling apps. Vast effects libraries are helping boost social experience and make it more entertaining.
- Emojis. Often, emojis speak volumes. The feature helps users express themselves in a matter of seconds.
- Scheduled meetings. The scheduling feature integrated into a video conferencing app automatically detects when you are free or busy. It lets others choose the time in your schedule, working for all parties involved.
- Push notifications. The option prevents users from missing some crucial info or changes. With the Internet of Things (IoT) integrated into our lives, push notifications play an important role in staying updated.
The must-have and additional features grant a range of possibilities. However, you need to understand that developing each requires time and money. Therefore, creating a set of features based on the target audience and value you intend to make is always better.
Step-by-Step Video Call App Development
At this point, we have established a solid background on video calling as a phenomenon. Now, it is time to deconstruct the video app creation process and explore its all ins and outs.
Step 1: Market Research
The app creation process starts with in-depth research. So it is when you decide what your app should achieve, which market it should be directed at, and what preferred platforms it should be integrated with. Next, determine whether the app is for businesses or single users. Many aspects like demographics, geography, and monetizations are heard during this stage.
Keep in mind that launching a successful video calling app is impossible without understanding current market trends and competitors’ strategies. Otherwise, without market research, you can find yourself in a position where there is no market for your product, and it will fail at a glimpse of the eye. You can conduct market research with competitor analysis on your own or hire a consultancy agency to do the job.
Step 2: Target Audience and Niche
The next important step is to define the target audience. You need a full psychological profile of potential consumers to understand how your app can meet their needs. It does not matter how good your product is in terms of quality or functionality. If it does not deliver the preferred state to users, it will not sell. During this step, note and outline expectations end-users might have from the app. Besides, having a detailed profile of an end-user coupled with a proper business strategy is vital because thousands of apps appear weekly to target specific consumers to make a good sale.
Step 3: Feature List
This step is about selecting features for the video calling app you are developing. We have covered more areas in Step 7. Yet, during this phase, have a list of the basic features and potentially additional features. It is important to understand how much work and money you need and is ready to put in before an app launch.
Considering the insights from Step 2, you will know what features must be included in your app. Remember that working with a vendor or an outsourcing company presents a dilemma. Namely, they will likely want you to integrate some additional features. However, it is up to you to calculate whether the value created by such features is worth the expenses.
Step 4: UI/UX Design
Going further, you must focus on the design during the video app creation process. The rule of thumb dictates it should be balanced, which means not too simplistic and not too overwhelming. Consider using companies offering product design solutions to deliver top-quality UI/UX design. The initial feeling for design is to include as many cool aspects as possible. However, such an urge is often counterproductive. UI/UX design should follow the motto – less is more. Moreover, the app’s design must match the target audience and the objectives the product tries to achieve. Finally, there are the following UI/UX design development phases to consider:
- Wireframe. A blueprint or a structural representation of an app’s design with the most crucial content elements.
- Mockup. A visual representation of a wireframe, including color schemes, typography, and visual style.
- Prototype. A clickable simulation of the final product is not the final product itself.
- Final product. The final product version with all the changes is integrated based on a prototype’s manipulations.
These essential UI/UX design stages allow you to bring the app’s design from idea to a high-fidelity, clickable visual product.
Step 5: Team Selection
It is time to find a software development team or use the in-house one. There are various options following this stage. First, you can augment your team with freelancers to entirely outsource the project. Like the debate between iOS and Android, there is a constant debate concerning outsourcing and in-house development. If unsure, your team can handle the task, outsource the project or hire freelance developers with expertise. We will cover this question in detail when choosing API or from scratch.
Step 6: The Tech Stack
This step is about choosing the instruments that will help write the code for the app and build its entire framework. Essentially, there are three options to approach the stage – you can make everything on your own, choose SaaS software for each part, and appeal to external services with ready-to-go APIs integrated into your application. The tech stack stage is critical, so we have further dedicated many more insights on the topic.
Step 7: Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Development
It is safe to say that the MVP development stage takes the most time and effort. In general, it can last from three to twelve months. As all the previous steps are completed, determine your approach to organizing the app development process. During this stage, there are particular aspects to consider:
The success of the video call app process depends on server logic. If you do not know what server logic is, use SaaS solutions. PubNub is a great example of such a solution. In general, using SaaS saves time, while building the backend from scratch offers more flexibility.
Video streaming protocol integration
Every video streaming service or application needs to have WebRTC. It is a real-time communication protocol that includes audio and video codecs vital for any video calling app to function. WebRTC allows the creation of peer-to-peer connections without any external web server transmitting the content. Besides, WebRTC is also a secure protocol.
APIs and SDKs
Software development kits (SDKs) play an integral role in video call app development. The same is true about Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). SDKs and APIs help make the development cycle easy and seamless. As a starter pack, consider Twilio and Wowza GoCoder SDK.
Some of the new UI toolkits have so-called drag and drop interfaces allowing customize the development process without any specific expertise required. For instance, CometChat UI Kit can help jumpstart a video calling app in a matter of hours. More importantly, ready-to-go UI kits often provide the entire source code to promote developer freedom.
To have a viable video calling app for testing, there are several key features to develop and test:
- Registration. Your app might not have a registration process or can be delivered through Google Sign-in and Facebook Login.
- Security. Integrate AES-256 or HMAC-SHA256 security protocol to back app video calling with end-to-end encryption.
- Text chat. To create a text chat option, you can use Twilio, which we mentioned earlier. It has everything needed to integrate text chat into your MVP.
- Video calls. Keep in mind that video transmitting should include various quality options. It depends on the video and audio codecs used.
- Profile management. This feature works with user data. Do not forget to integrate and test in-app purchasing and payment details to meet your monetization strategy.
- Contact list. The user’s phonebook is a must-have MVP feature. If you want an easy way of importing contacts into your app, consider using Google Contacts API.
Correct MVP development stands on many aspects. Nevertheless, covering the bases mentioned above ensures the video call app process proceeds smoothly.
Step 8: Testing
After all code and design elements are put together, it is time to test their durability. Check code for bugs to prevent future issues and ensure a smooth user experience. At this point, Quality Assurance (QA) is an approach to testing a product’s performance, design, reliability, and maintainability. Various software development companies offer QA services and help make your video calling app bulletproof.
Step 9: Launch and Post-Launch
The launch is the climax of the video call app development process. It is the moment the app hits an app store’s virtual shelves. However, after launching an app, do not put your hands down after launching an app and rest. Instead, get feedback from reviews and customer support to make further user-centric alterations.
From Scratch or API for Video Call App Development?
There are steps within video calling app development that require particular attention. As we have mentioned, you can develop a video conferencing app from scratch, use an API, or outsource the entire process. The third option is self-explanatory. You just pay for the services and get the end product. However, if you do not have enough budget, you must choose between scratch and API options. To help you decide, consider the challenges of building a video calling app from scratch:
- Making your product entails higher operational complexity and higher costs. You will need enough server capacity and bandwidth, which requires more capital.
- Making an app from scratch takes a long time. For some companies, the process lasted for years. If something changes in the market, you can find yourself in a position where the end product does not meet the initial market requirements.
- Creating a secure app from scratch can be a massive challenge. You need to have an extensive understanding of security protocols and know what SOC 2, HIPAA, and GDPR mean. Naturally, researching and integrating such rules will slow down the development cycle.
While it may look like we are pushing you toward an API option, you will be correct. If you have enough resources and capabilities to build a video call app from scratch, it is unlikely you need to read this article in the first place. Besides, outsourcing the entire process is something not many companies can fully afford. As a result, the most balanced option is to choose API providers.
Technical Stack for Video App Development
The tech stack includes programming languages, databases, frameworks, cloud platforms, APIs, SDKs, encryption protocols, streaming protocols, and SaaS solutions. We recommend considering the following:
- Programming languages: Swift for iOS; Kotlin with Java for Android; React Native for cross-platform development.
- Databases: Oracle and MySQL.
- Frameworks: Spark for Java-based apps and Node.js for video conferencing apps supporting group calls with many participants.
- Cloud platforms: to harness the power of the cloud for video calling, use Amazon S3 or Amazon EC2.
- APIs: Twilio.
- SDKs: Wowza GoCoder SDK.
- Encryption protocols: AES-256 and HMAC-SHA256.
- Streaming protocols: WebRTC, along with RTP and RTMP.
- Saas solutions: PubNub for a real-time chat during video conferencing, Krisp for noise cancellation, and OpenTokRTC to handle streaming server-side.
These are the lifeblood of your app. Use them with care and always look for people with expertise in more than one solution. There is no one-fits-all instrument, and the video call app development process often requires flexibility and switching between different tools.
Video Call App Development Cost
Now, it is time to speak about video call app development costs. It all comes down to simple math. There are several hours required to develop each particular aspect of an app. There are specific rates to cover the number of hours. On average, video call app development with both must-have and advanced features requires about 1,100 hours of work. QA takes approximately 300 hours. And project management fits into about 100 hours. So we have an app in about 1,500 hours for the entire development cycle.
The next part of the equation is about costs. The problem here is that rates for developers differ. The general rule shows North America is far more expensive in-app development than Eastern Europe and Asia (see Fig. 4).
The catch is – lower rates often mean lower quality. So, look for the balance between the quality of the services and reasonable prices. Taking the average on outsourcing destinations and multiplying by the number of hours (1500) required to develop a video calling app, you will receive the following:
- North America ≈ $225,000
- Australia ≈ $210,000
- Latin America ≈ $75,000
- Western Europe ≈ $150,000
- Eastern Europe ≈ $65,000
- India ≈ $38,000
- Africa ≈ $60,000
Considering the numbers, Latin America and Eastern Europe present great outsourcing destinations. However, if you decide on the destination, do not forget to follow particular guidelines for outsourcing app development.
Monetization Strategies for Video Conferencing Apps
Along with bringing value to customers, video calling apps should also bring profits and bring value to customers. In the video conferencing business, several options exist to monetize your product. When engaging in video call app development, distinguish through the following approaches:
- Advertising. For video streaming, paid ads can be integrated into the middle of the video. While you cannot do that for video calling, there is an option to set small promotional banners during and after the call.
- Paid video calls. You can offer a free trial for an app. However, for long-term users, there is a chance to integrate paid subscription models.
- Premium features. There are various premium features in terms of customization that can bring profit. Paid stickers are one of them.
- Freemium option. This option opens larger possibilities within an app. For instance, they should pay if a customer wants more than 100 participants for a conference.
These are the basic monetization strategies for video calling apps. But, of course, it is always better to determine between them based on the target audience and competitor analysis.
The Future of Video Calling
You have come a long way. There are a lot of processes. Now, let’s step aside and think about the potential future of video calling. There is a consensus that the future of any video calling and video streaming app will eventually be coupled with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) services.
However, there are particular directions in which tech companies make strides. The following are some of the promising realms to follow:
- Project Starline. Google presented a video of its latest project, taking video calling to another level. The company wants to make video conferencing more immersive and bonding.
- Spatial audio. Various companies are experimenting with advanced spatial audio solutions. It allows one to make a 360-degree stereo field, creating an audio experience during a video call that feels more real.
- Cloud computing. In the future, video conferencing will further leverage cloud computing capabilities, thus allowing development teams to move through the cycle in a matter of days.
- Metaverse. As one of the latest trends, one can anticipate video calling coupled with metaverse-centered solutions.
The list can go on and on. Video calls have an opportunity to serve much more than mere entertainment. Integrated into healthcare, it can save thousands of lives. Developing healthcare apps with a video streaming feature might be something you need at the moment. Especially, mHealth is a hot topic bringing billions of dollars (see Fig. 5).
The future of the video calling app market is bright. New technologies will emerge, and new solutions will see the light of the day. But, at some point, companies that stop innovating become the ones that fail.
Considering all the above, the statement once made by Bill Gates comes to mind: “The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don’t even notice it, so it’s part of everyday life.” Video calling technology has been with us for more than five decades. Yet, we recognized its true potential only when the world was hit with COVID-19. It is a perfect example of when something good emerges from something terrible. Now, video calling has become much more than a tool for communication and entertainment. It helps do business, deliver healthcare services, and educate people worldwide.
While understanding that, there is sufficient evidence to understand the importance of video call app development. At this point, you are equipped with all the toolkit of knowledge and insights required to take the video conferencing app from an idea to the end product. However, approach each step with care and caution. Better think twice before using a particular tool. After all, developing an app should be an exciting process, creating value for the target audience and development team.