Throughout 2020, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown, the use of video chat apps has spiked.

Global downloads of Zoom and Skype increased by over 100% from February to March of 2020.

If you’ve ever wondered how to make a video chat app, right now is the best time to pursue the idea.

Rise in Popularity Among Online Video Chat Apps
Rise in Popularity Among Online Video Chat Apps

Today, the industry of solutions for call and video chat is promising. At the same time, the market landscape is oversaturated with such names as Zoom, Skype, Meet, and so on.

How can you make a video app that will have a chance to stand up against all these leaders?

We created this article to help you understand how to make a video app, avoid costly mistakes, and pave the path to success more easily.

The guide includes information about:

  • industry overview and market state of video chat apps
  • key types and unique features of video apps based on the examples of Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, etc.
  • how video calling works [key tech insights]
  • step-by-step process for how to make a video chat app from a business standpoint
  • tech stack and features needed to create a chat app
  • cost to make a video app [key spending patterns + influencing factors]
  • infographic on how to make a video chat app

Let’s start our journey and figure out how you can create a video conference call app or something similar.

Market State of Video Chat Apps

Video chat apps started gaining popularity many years ago. This year, they became a primary solution for communication for many people for personal and business activities.

Here you can see key statistics that prove that the market of video calling apps is flourishing:

  • Zoom app downloads worldwide grew from ~5 million in February, to 26.9 million by March. Skype also saw a rise in demand – from ~3.5 million to 6.2 million. (Statista, 2020)
  • In Spain, downloads of the Houseparty app were 2,360 times the weekly average in Q4 of 2019. The level of increase differs depending on the country. (Statista, 2020)
  • Six in ten (57%) Americans are currently using video chat platforms for work and social reasons. (Ipsos, 2020)
  • Video chat platforms are widely used to see friends and family (73%). (Mozilla, 2020)
  • In the USA, the most popular live video chat apps are Zoom (66%), FaceTime (48%), Facebook Messenger (31%), Skype (27%), and Google Hangouts/Meet/Duo (22%). (Mozilla, 2020)
  • After the pandemic is over, 75% of review participants say they will continue to use these apps to see friends and family. (Mozilla, 2020)

Most Popular Messaging App per Country (SimilarWeb, 2019)
Most Popular Messaging App per Country (SimilarWeb, 2019)

Video chat apps can be used for a number of tasks and reasons. People worldwide rely on them to interact with friends and family, as well as for use in the business sphere.

As the situation with the pandemic remains uncertain, many companies are shifting to remote work. We can expect video chatting solutions to gain more popularity and prominence.

Want to learn more from experts about video & audio apps for communication?

Get in touch with our team to discuss your video chat idea. Our team of experts knows how to turn ideas into a prosperous startup with an ongoing evolvement, as well as provide a rough estimate for development.

Contact us for a free consultation

Types & Unique Selling Points of Video Chat Apps

Before we move on to explain how to make a video chat app from both the business and technical points of view, let’s first identify the main solution types.

This can help you understand the differences between options and clarify your intentions for a similar project.

There are three main types of this application, including apps for conferences, video communication, and entertainment.

Let’s discover each video chat app type.

Conference Video Call Apps

Video conference call apps improve collaboration and speed up the process of communication between colleagues, especially when it’s needed to support people in different locations.

These applications allow users to have around 500 participants at the same time. The main requirement for building this kind of solution is high-quality video and audio calling, and the adjustment based on the speed of the internet connection.

Examples: Zoom, Google Hangouts, Google Duo, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet

Why Companies use Conference Video Chat Apps
Why Companies use Conference Video Chat Apps

Video Calling Apps

This type of application allows for face-to-face video calling in everyday life. These solutions for video calling have limited capabilities. In most cases, you cannot use these grouped video calling apps for work; therefore, they are best suited for personal communication.

For example, WhatsApp only allows for four participants, and Facebook limits the number to eight at a time.

Examples: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Telegram

Video Chat Apps for Entertainment

Video chatting apps can also be used for entertainment.

A great example is Houseparty, an application serving as a networking service for group video chats between friends. Users receive a notification when their friends are online and available for a group video call.

Examples: Houseparty, Discord

If you are not sure why or how to make a video chat app of any of the above types, look at the table below, which provides insight into their operations, USPs, and features.

Service Platforms Launch year Number of DAU Monetization Unique selling points
Zoom Web, iOS, Android, desktop 2013 12.9 million Freemium model
Payment for additional attendees
Ads

Ease of use and high-quality audio-video output
Google Hangouts Web, desktop 2013 120,000+ Free Up to 25 participants
Google Meet Web, iOS, Android, desktop 2013 3 million Part of G-Suite ($6-$26 a month per user) 250 participants
100,000 live stream viewers
Google Duo Web, iOS, Android, desktop 2016 1 billion installs on Google Play Free Up to 12 participants
Microsoft Teams Web, iOS, Android, desktop 2017 75 million $0-$20 a month per user Low pricing, multi-language support, file storage, application integration
WhatsApp iOS, Android, desktop 2009 1 billion Free File sharing option
Voice messages
Facebook Messenger Web, iOS, Android, desktop 2011 1.79 billion Ads, sponsored messages Send texts to non-messenger users
Chat Heads (chatting while in other apps)
Free international calls

Viber iOS, Android, desktop 2010 260 million Ads, Viber Out Viber Out (calling regular phone numbers from the app)
Telegram iOS, Android, desktop 2013 13.33 million Free
Donations
Secret chats
Self-destructing messages
Houseparty iOS, Android, desktop 2016 10,000,000+ subscribers Ads Group video calls with friends
Discord Web, iOS, Android, desktop 2015 14 million Self-branded merchandise
Add-ons for $4.99 monthly subscription plan
Communication tool dedicated to gamers

How Does a Video Chat App Work, Technically?

Video calling is very similar to regular phone calls. In addition to hearing the other person’s voice, you can also see them. Many video calling apps also provide some additional services, including video sharing, group video calls, etc.

From a technical point of view, WebRTC is the most popular technology used to build video chat applications.

WebRTC (Real-Time Communication) is an open-source internet protocol that allows users to arrange real-time video calls using simple APIs.

This technology is used to implement a Peer-to-Peer connection without the help of a third-party web server. At the same time, WebRTC can transmit media content.

In a nutshell, WebRTS can be used together with four APIs:

  • MediaStream – this API enables chatting between clients using either a microphone or a video camera.
  • RTCPeerConnection – this API is responsible for the security of video calls, as it enables audio and video data transfer with encryption support and access control.
  • RTCDataChannel – this API provides a Peer-to-Peer communication network for data generalization.
  • OpenTOK – this is actually not an API, but a PaaS platform and an open-source library that can be used to enable cross-platform video chats.

If you want to know how to make a video chat app like Google Meet, the technology described above powers this solution.

Below, you can see how video calling works with a Peer-to-Peer connection structure:

WebRTC Communication Protocol for Video Chat Apps
WebRTC Communication Protocol for Video Chat Apps

Here is how the connection between two clients is established:

  1. The first client sends a so-called Offer to another client via a server (PeerConnection Observer).
  2. The second client (Remote Peer) sends a reply to the Offer via the server as well.
  3. The Peer-to-Peer connection is established between the clients.

After the initial exchange of Offers, the server may then allow for further development into a video chatting app, as the data can still be transferred even with the disabled server.

The next involvement of the PeerConnection Observer is required only to properly close the connection, add new members to a group video call, and to perform actions that go beyond information exchange between two clients.

How to Make a Video Chat App: Strategy Development [Steps 1-4]

How to Make a Video Chat App, Step by Step
How to Make a Video Chat App, Step by Step

The process to make a video chat app consists of 8 major steps:

  1. Defining the value proposition
  2. Creating a business plan and defining the monetization strategy
  3. Hiring a software development company
  4. Selecting video chat app features
  5. Designing user-friendly UX/UI
  6. Finding the right tech stack
  7. Promoting the video chat app
  8. Testing the ready-to-release application

Let’s investigate each of the defined steps in more detail.

Step 1: Define Your Video Chat App Value Proposition

When you start exploring how to create a video chat app and turn it into a business, creating a Google Meet or Zoom copycat might seem like a great idea. In reality, these sorts of applications are doomed.

The best thing you can do for your future application is to define your unique value proposition.

Before you proceed with app development, please be sure that you can answer the following questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • What features would you like to implement?
  • Why should users choose your video chat app?

Understanding what your main features will be is the key to success.

For example, Google Meet allows for 250 participants and 100,000 live stream viewers. This feature has made the app a primary choice for big companies and turned it into one of the most popular conference video calling apps.

For the first version of your application, you can choose one or two flagship features to test your idea with real users. As the app grows, you can expand the functionality.

Ultimate Guide on How to Make any App Successful
Ultimate Guide on How to Make any App Successful

More information on how to create a profitable application can be found in the article: How to Make Your App Successful: A Detailed Step-by-Step Guide.

Additional Tip: you can define your USP by answering questions: “What?,” “Who?,” “Do what?,” and “How?”

For example:

Google Meet (What?) helps big companies (Who?) conduct big conferences (Do what?) by allowing a big number of participants (How?).

Step 2: Create a Business Plan & Choose a Monetization Model

The next step in the journey to explain how to make a video chat app is to finalize your USP and strategy by employing the Business Model Canvas.

This model covers the following areas and helps businesses to structure all the strategic information, namely:

  • Key activities
  • Key resources
  • Key partners
  • Value proposition (USP)
  • Customer relationships
  • Customer segments
  • Channels
  • Cost structure
  • Revenue streams

Defining the right monetization strategy is no less important than knowing how to make a video calling app from a technical standpoint.

The following video chat app monetization strategies can be used:

  • Advertisements – this model allows you to make your app free for users, as it implies that money will be made from advertisements. You can use different PPC integrations or work with brands directly. By placing ads inside your app, you will be able to make money per click, per ad view, per action, etc.

  • Paid calls – you can make the key features of your app paid services. You can provide users with the ability to make video calls for free for a limited time, allow them to increase the limit on participants for payment, to increase the number of viewers, etc.

  • Freemium – this is the most popular app monetization strategy among businesses. You can provide some basic features for free, and additional features, like blurring or changing the background, adding stickers, sending text messages and files, for a fee.

Article: How Do Free Apps Make Money?
Article: How Do Free Apps Make Money?

Do you want to learn how free apps make money?

Check out our article where we explain the main strategies to turn your free application into a profitable business: How Do Free Apps Make Money?

After you’ve decided on the monetization strategy, you can move on to creating a business model canvas. Check out a high-level example of the canvas used to make a video app for conferencing.

Business Model Canvas: WhatsApp Example
Business Model Canvas: WhatsApp Example

After you have implemented all the features from the plan for the first app version, you can continue increasing the functionality and platforms covered.

For example, you can start with a mobile app and then integrate video conferencing into a website or the other way around.

Do you need help with video app development?

Get in touch with our team for a free initial consultation. We’ll discuss how to make a video chat app and turn it into a successful product as well as provide you with a rough budget estimate.

Get a free consultation & app estimate

Step 3: Promote Your Video Chat App

Knowing how to make a video chat app is not enough to make it successful.

A properly developed and implemented marketing strategy ensures the future success of your application. It’s recommended that you start working on app promotion as early as possible.

You can utilize some ideas that will help you promote your app long before it hits the market:

  • Launch a landing page and a blog
  • Post demos and teasers
  • Communicate with early adopters about the first version
  • Continuously work on SMM
  • Participate in local events and promote your app there
  • Reach out to industry influencers

After you have launched your application to the market, you can move on with your marketing promotion plan.

Usually, this consists of the following parts:

  • Marketing campaign – create paid ads and launch them upon app release
  • Influencer marketing – build relationships with influences who will promote your app among their audience.
  • SMM – social media marketing remains one of the best ways to communicate with current and potential users.
  • Partners – you can ask your partners to promote your app.
  • SEO – search engine optimized blog posts can help you promote your solution, even to a broader audience.

Step 4: Hire a Capable Software Development Vendor

Out of thousands of companies providing app development services, you need to choose the one that knows how to make a video chat app in the best way possible. The future of your project fully depends on the decisions you make at this stage.

You can start your search with word-of-mouth recommendations or by browsing such platforms as Clutch, ITFirms, the Manifest, etc. These platforms provide lists of the best IT service providers with reviews and client feedback.

List 2-3 companies and move on to the next step – prospect evaluation. You can perform the following approach to narrow down the list of prospects even more by checking:

  • Background
  • Portfolio
  • Clients reviews
  • Capabilities
  • Culture and talent
  • Development standards
  • Used tools

Based on the collected data, select the company that has relevant experience, has been on the market for 5+ years, has successful projects, and follows the latest development standards.

How to Choose the Best Vendor to Make a Video App
How to Choose the Best Vendor to Make a Video App

More information on the benefits of working with dedicated development teams can be found in the article: How to Hire a Development Team: Everything you Need to Know about the DDT Model.

How to Make a Video Chat App: Functionality & Tech Stack [Steps 5-8]

Now that you know how to make a video chat app from a business point of view, it’s time to decide on some technical aspects.

You need to choose a tech stack that will allow the app to withstand high loads, easily scale, and provide users with the latest solutions.

Let’s examine each of the steps in more detail.

Step 5: Select Video Chat App Functionality

The next step in the video chat app development process is to decide on the functionality of your application.

In the tables below, you can see an overview of possible basic and advanced features.

Feature Short description
Registration Registration can be optional for users with the possibility to add a user’s name. Additionally, you can allow them to create a user account so that they won’t need to provide their personal details before each call.
Profile management Users need to have the ability to manage their personal data, i.e. names, emails, passwords, and other data. For apps with a subscription plan, the personal account needs to have a section dedicated to payment details.
Status This feature needs to display the status of a user, i.e. online, offline, busy, and so on.
Contact list Users need to have the ability to create their contact lists. This feature should be combined with a robust search system so that the contact list will be automatically pulled from the contact list in the phone.
Video and voice calls This is the main feature of any video chat app. A combination of video and voice calls will make your app more competitive with such apps as Telegram, Viber, etc. Video and audio should be clear and of high quality.
Text chat This is a nice-to-have feature for situations when making a call is not an option or in places with poor coverage. Texting will be a life-saving feature.
Geolocation Geolocation can be useful for entertainment video chat applications to help find someone who is near to you.
End-to-end encryption Protocols like AES-256 and HMAC-SHA-256 are used to make a video chat app secure.
Push notifications With this feature, the app will automatically notify users about new missed and upcoming calls, new messages, etc.
Cloud synchronization Information synchronization between devices allows users to use your application on any device. By syncing data, they will be able to view messages, listen to recorded calls, etc.
Automatic backup Information backup to the cloud will ensure that no data is lost in case of unpredictable situations.
Advanced feature Short description
Group calls This is a must-have feature if you want to create a solution that will be in high demand. Conference apps for video calling need to support at least 50 participants. For personal communication, the number can vary from 5 to 10 participants.
Screen sharing Another must-have feature for conference video calling apps. Users should be able to share information on their screens, which allows for better collaboration on projects and tasks.
Virtual background Replacement of the user’s background with a picture is very useful, especially when working from home. By replacing the background, users will be able to hide a mess or anything that they don’t want others to see.
Virtual noise cancellation Background noise can ruin any conversation. Thus, your app can have a special feature reducing background noise with the help of software.
Custom emojis and stickers Allow users to expand the provided out-of-the-box stickers and emojis with custom options. Users will be able to share jokes and highlight points with stickers and emojis that they seem the most suitable for a situation.
Custom masks The ability to create custom masks can be great for entertainment video call apps and even conference solutions. Snapchat and Instagram provide a great example of how this functionality can be implemented

Step 6: Create a Customer-Centric UX/UI Design

If you want to know how to make a video chat app that users will love, start by creating a user-friendly interface of your solution. You should pursue a minimalistic, intuitive, and attractive design.

There are three main factors that you should consider when designing a video and voice call app:

  • UX/UI design

This refers to user experience and user interface. Designers usually start with the creation of wireframes (UX) that define how users will interact with your application. As well, it is possible to combine this step with UI design, which allows you to save money and time needed for development.

  • Stylistics

You need to stick to the same design style throughout your application. Even if you create a mobile app, a desktop version, and a web solution, it’s vital to ensure design cohesiveness. This way, users won’t have any problems using your application when switching between platforms. Additionally, it will help you create brand recognition and a better brand identity.

  • Responsiveness

As you are exploring how to make a video chat app, one of the most important things is to ensure its responsiveness on all screen sizes. As your app can be used both on a smartphone and on a tablet, it’s important to provide the same smooth user experience across platforms.

Google Meet Interface on Web and Mobile
Google Meet Interface on Web and Mobile

The Google chat video call app for G-Suite Google Meet is a great example of a clean and uncluttered user interface.

Step 7: How to Make a Video Chat App: Tech Stack

How to make a video chat app.

Before jumping to the development stage, the first thing to decide is the technology that your new video chat app will rely on.

You can combine a number of technologies into a single application. The technology stack should align with your business goals and the app’s functionality.

Android iOS
Programming languages Java, Kotlin Swift, Objective-C
Toolkit Android Studio, Android Developer Tools Apple Xcode
SDK Android SDK iOS SDK, Cocoa Touch

With further app improvements and business growth, you might want to add another platform support to your app.

Below, you can see a table describing the technology stack needed for front-end and back-end web development.

Web front-end development
Programming languages JavaScript, TypeScript
Markup languages Text
JavaScript frameworks SDK Angular, React, Vue, etc.
Web back-end development
Programming languages Ruby, Elixir, Python, PHP, Java, etc.
Web frameworks Ruby on Rails, Phoenix, Django, etc.
Database servers PostgreSQL, MySQL
Web servers Nginx, Apache
Cloud server platforms Amazon Web Services (AWS, EC2, S3, etc.)

You might also need to add some other integrations and APIs.

Streaming protocols Description
WebRTC A free, open-source API by Google that provides secure video and voice calls.
RTMP SDK Provides optimization of video and audio data transmission and is suitable for low-latency content transmission.
RTP Technology is used for low-latency scenarios and provides limited features compared to WebRTC.
Encryption protocols Description
AES-256 Symmetric key cipher, which uses the same secret key for both encryption and decryption.
HMAC-SHA-256 Encrypts the data into small parts of 256 bits.
API & SDK Description
Twilio Cross-platform SDK that enables a text chat.
Vonage Video API Helps to embed high-quality interactive video, voice, messaging, and screen sharing functionality into web and mobile apps. Fully integrated with WebRTC.
Wowza GoCoder SDK Powerful media server primarily used for live video streaming applications.
Socket Enables an interactive connection between the app and the server for real-time information exchange.

Below you can see a list of some additional integrations that you might need for your mobile video chat app.

Service API
Mailing services Gmail, SendGrid, ZeroBounce, MailGun, TempMail, FastMail, Firebase Cloud Messaging
Push notifications Twilio, Nexmo, Plivo, Sinch, Apple Push Notifications Service (APN), Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM)
Social media Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Viber
Payments Stripe, Braintree, Google Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal’s SDK
Analytical tools Flurry, Google Analytics, Firebase, MixPanel

For these apps, you need to ensure a secure exchange of data between your servers and devices, as well as the encryption of sent and received data. Additionally, you need to think of good network connectivity and provide the ability to use your video chatting software even with poor connectivity.

Step 8: Test Your Video Chat App

Quality Assurance is a vital part of developing an application that won’t have any issues when it comes to functionality, performance, and security.

Depending on the type and complexity of your project, you might need to perform a number of software testing services, including user acceptance testing, automation testing, load testing, stress testing, etc.

After you launch your application to the market, you will get a lot of real-user feedback.

This data provides the most valuable insight into what your target users are expecting from your application and what their needs are. The insight you receive should be used for further app development and improvement.

How Much Does it Cost to Make a Video Chat App?

Now that you know how to make a video chat app, it’s time to learn the most important information – app development cost.

The cost to create a video chat app depends on a number of factors:

  • Pre-development stage, or how well you study competition, market stage, features to implement, etc.
  • Time spent on discussions and identifying business needs
  • Number of platforms you are going to target (iOS, Android, or both)
  • Use of high-tech functionality such as AI, Machine Learning, etc.
  • App design complexity (custom themes, animations, etc.)
  • Software development vendor you have chosen

The price of building an MDP (minimum delight product) for a video chat app starts from $60,000 per single platform (iOS or Android or Web).

Please note that the above cost is estimated based on an average hourly rate of $40 for software development services in Ukraine.

The table below provides an overview of the services and development components. These make up the total price to create a chat app at $40/hour.

Basic version (minimum feature set, 1 platform) Full product (more features and design of a larger complexity, 1 platform) Large app (complex app design, development, and support, 2+ platforms)
UX/UI Design $5,000+ $10,000+ $21,000+
Custom Development $40,000+ $80,000+ $140,000+
Quality Assurance $5,000+ $10,000+ $25,000+
Project Management $7,500+ $15,000+ $32,000+
Business Analysis $2,500+ $5,000+ $12,000+
Total setup $60,000+ $120,000+ $230,000+
Time ~3-6 months ~4-9 months 9+ months (ongoing)

Please note that the above costs are an approximation, and the final cost for a real project could be quite different. The cost presented is based on the average set of features that is required to release the first working version of your product.

The costs listed above are also based on the key services that usually constitute video chat app development, namely business analysis, UX/UI design, development, QA, and project management.

Want to know how to make a video chat app based on innovative technologies?

Receive a consultation on video chat app development right from our best experts. As well, we can provide you with a more accurate project estimate based on your needs and requirements.

Get a free consultation & project estimate now

Frequently Asked Questions:

👨‍💻 What technologies did you use to create a video chat application?
The technology stack necessary to create a video chat app consists of programming languages: Java or Kotlin for Android; Swift or Objective-C for iOS; Toolkit: Android Studio, Android Developer Tools for Android; Apple Xcode for iOS; SDK: Android SDK; Streaming protocol: WebRTC; Encryption protocols: AES-256, HMAC-SHA-256.
💡 What are the first steps to create a successful video application?
With dozens of new apps appearing every day, you need to carefully evaluate your app concept, research your target audience, study the market state, and research all your competitors. These steps will help you make a data-based decision regarding your future product.
💰 How can I monetize my video chat app?
You can earn money with your video chat app by using a few monetization strategies. Advertisements – paid placing of ads inside your app. Paid calls – the ability to make paid group video calls. Freemium – providing basic functionality for free and some additional features for an extra payment.
🚀 How do I select a capable software development company?
There are thousands of companies providing software development services worldwide. However, you can make the right choice by analyzing the following factors during the research stage: background, portfolio, client reviews, capabilities, culture and talent, favorable location, tools used, and development standards. For example, Ukraine is known for providing high-level professionals at an average $40/hour rate, which makes it a great destination for software development outsourcing.