- The essential features of a video chat app include video & voice calls, text messaging, contact lists, and customizable user profiles.
- If you want to make a video chat app more convenient, consider adding screen sharing, digital whiteboards, and virtual noise cancellation.
- Making a video chat app usually costs from $85,000 to $95,000.
Every business starts with research, so let’s take a look at the market and get a good understanding of what’s happening in the field.
The demand for video calling apps skyrocketed during the pandemic, but they continue to attract millions of new customers even after all the covid-related restrictions were lifted. Here’s proof: in January 2022, Microsoft Teams recorded 270 million monthly active users, which marked a 20-million increase to July 2021 (Grand View Search).
Size & growth projections
In 2021, the video calling app market grossed $6.28 bln in size, and this figure is expected to reach $19.73 bln by 2030. This means that until the end of the decade, the market will be gaining at least 12.5% every year, which marks fantastic prospects for successful players (Grand View Search).
The field has heavy competition, and there are several well-established giants that wield huge influence over the market (think Zoom or Discord). But while taking on Zoom isn’t feasible, it doesn’t mean that there’s no room left for new and exciting solutions. The key is to find your niche — once you’ve figured that out, you can start building a product that will satisfy its needs.
The types of video chat apps
First, let’s talk about applications that center around video chats. There are three types of them:
Software like this can support up to hundreds of participants in one call, which makes it particularly popular in business and education. Since the pandemic, these apps have become ubiquitous — you’ve definitely heard about Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet.
Video calling apps
These apps focus on calls between two participants, so they are primarily used for day-to-day communication between friends or coworkers. This isn’t a distinct type in itself — rather, you could call it a set of features often used in conjunction with messenger functionality. Examples, again, don’t need any introduction: it’s Telegram, WhatsApp, and Skype.
Applications in this category allow users to hang out together in group calls and may offer some niche-specific features — for instance, in-app games or streaming. Famous examples include Discord, Snapchat, and Rave.
This classification may be useful when you need to come up with a particular set of features for your product. Bear in mind, however, that a video chat app is a very flexible tool by nature — people often use Discord for studying, Telegram for briefings, and Zoom for online-parties.
This means that trying to make a video chat app that strictly adheres to one type is mostly impractical — instead, most apps are a combination of all three.
Possible use cases
Video conferencing doesn’t always have to be the primary feature. Some apps employ a video chat feature as a way to enhance main functionality, and this actually happens across many business segments. Here are some of them:
In the field of telemedicine, video chats allow doctors to examine their patients in real time, which is much more efficient than just seeing the photos or text descriptions of symptoms.
When the pandemic hit, entire schools and universities transitioned to Zoom or similar services. Video conferencing makes it possible to emulate the conditions of a classroom, which helps maintain effective communication between teachers and students.
Private banking is on the rise, and it requires a lot of personal communication. This is why some banks are beginning to integrate a video chat feature into their apps: this way, it’s much easier for customers to have in-depth consultations with managers. It also makes the whole process much more personalized, too.
Have you ever heard about livestream shopping? Influencers and celebrities promoting a brand’s products in real time is already a big thing in Asia, and it will most likely become more widespread in the west soon. Why we mention it: since the whole segment heavily relies on streaming, video conferencing tech is indispensable here.
It’s easy to hide your identity behind a text chat, so dating apps have always been plagued by fake accounts. Introducing a video chat helps make the experience safer for thousands of users. Fooling a camera is a much harder task, and if the person you’re interested in refuses to show themselves… Well, they call it a red flag nowadays.
Let’s discuss some huge video chat apps that basically define what the field currently looks like. They will provide us with positive references, highlighting the key features we’ll be talking about later.
The go-to video conferencing app. Everything here happens in conference rooms — virtual spaces that support text, audio, and video inputs from each participant. If you need to show a presentation, you can share your screen with others, while breakout rooms will help you split a large group of people into several smaller groups.
There are some neat additional features, too. Customers can schedule meetings, form group chats, create virtual whiteboards, and connect their phone contacts to the app. A wide selection of addons makes it possible to tailor Zoom to any particular needs — or to turn it into a gaming platform.
Simply the most convenient and innovative messenger app out there: it covers all the basic functionality, but always goes an extra mile. Apart from text chats and video calls that support literally thousands of participants, it offers channels, audio messages, video messages, chat folders, as well as a plethora of customization options. You can also choose to schedule messages or send them without sound.
Users can launch customizable Telegram bots via a special API to automate virtually any feature they want. The app also prides itself in its dedication to anonymity and privacy: for example, you can opt to register an account with a blockchain-generated number without disclosing any of your personal data.
Discord was originally built for leisure, hobbies, and fun, but it has since become a versatile tool that is equally useful for team management as it is for gaming. Communication here primarily happens on servers, which can be divided into several thematic channels.
These channels are either text-based or voice-based, with voice-based channels also supporting video and basically functioning like Zoom conference rooms. Each server is highly customizable: you can appoint certain roles and grant different access rights to different users. There’s also plenty of quality-of-life perks like screen sharing and virtual whiteboards.
Did you know that Instagram basically stole the Stories feature from Snapchat? Well, now you know. Snapchat is a messenger that allows users to send short videos (‘Snaps’) to other people, with the twist being that these videos disappear after viewing.
Users can always communicate with each other via text chats or video chats that support up to 16 people simultaneously. And yes, you can actually post stories too. Snapchat positions itself as a playful app designed for having fun, so there are also plenty of video filters available, as well as in-app games and customizable emojis.
Features to implement in an MVP
Here are the absolute essentials to implement during video chat app development.
The signup process should be quick and intuitive, so that it doesn’t take long to actually start using the app. An effective solution is to allow users to authenticate using their social media accounts.
The key thing to consider when it comes to profiles is that users should be able to customize them in any way they want — for example, quickly change contact details, profile pictures, or nicknames.
Video & voice calls
The core of any video chat app. A little tip: the more participants can join a single group call, the better — this will make your product more attractive to all customers that often communicate with several people at once, like teachers or managers.
Customers also appreciate privacy and security, so it’s always a good idea to protect the transmitted video & audio data with end-to-end encryption.
Users should be able to maintain communication with others even if they don’t have a mic or a camera nearby. This is when text chats come into play. As you want to make your video chat app flexible, ensure that these chats also support media like photos, videos, and audio files.
It takes two steps to make this feature convenient. First, sync the list with the contacts that are already stored on the user’s phone. Second, make it easily customizable: it should be easy to add new contacts or delete the already existing ones.
The app should notify users about incoming calls and messages, as well as pretty much everything that has to do with social interactions — from games to livestreams to whatever else you decide to integrate into your product. Simple, but important.
Nice-to-have features your customers will enjoy
More advanced functionality to consider once you’ve implemented all the basics. It’s definitely not an exhaustive list — just some popular ideas.
Vital for pitching project ideas, delivering presentations, streaming games, watching movies together, and explaining how to use Photoshop to a friend. Since this is a very in-demand feature, we recommend that you implement it as soon as you get all the essentials running properly.
Custom emojis & stickers
Everybody loves memes and inside jokes. Everybody also loves when they can customize their virtual environments. Allowing users to create custom emojis and stickers perfectly satisfies these two needs. It’s also a fantastic personalization tool that requires literally zero involvement from you.
Virtual noise cancellation
We don’t always have the perfect surroundings when we’re in a conference. Loud traffic, kids playing in the next room, neighbors suddenly deciding to throw a party — you know how it gets sometimes. A noise cancellation feature will make it easy for the participants to understand what the speaker is saying even if they are in a very loud environment.
You can build your own algorithm from scratch, but it’s a long and expensive process (as is everything that involves machine learning). Alternatively, there are some ready-made solutions that you can integrate when you make a video chat app — for example, Krisp.
A virtual whiteboard is basically a simple graphic editor where multiple people can write, insert media files, and interact with each other in real time. This powerful tool makes it easier for participants to engage in brainstorming, diagramming, planning, and pretty much any other task that requires collaboration.
Video effects & filters
People usually associate effects and filters with mindless fun, but it’s not always the case. Take background blur, for example. It’s a serious quality-of-life improvement that makes video chat apps more convenient for people who highly value privacy. And then, of course, there are all the funny filters. Add them at your discretion.
Monetization strategies for a video chat app
OK, but how do you actually make money with a video chat app? In theory, there are several strategies available for video chat app monetization, but most developers actually use only one of them — the freemium model.
The single most common video chat app monetization strategy. How it works: users can enjoy the full range of an app’s basic features for free, but there is some advanced functionality that becomes available only to those who buy a subscription. Buying that subscription isn’t at all mandatory, but is greatly incentivized. Zoom, Discord, and Telegram all use freemium models.
How to build a video chat app in 6 steps
We believe that the best approach to bringing a new concept to life is to first create a minimum viable product (MVP). An MVP is a barebone version of an app designed to showcase its main functionality at minimum expense. It’s perfect for gauging the market, testing the viability of your idea, and raising some funds — a fully-functioning product is much more convincing than a bunch of promises and pretty pictures.
Let’s break down the whole video chat app development process into 6 steps.
Step 1. Analyze the market
Before you build a video chat app, you need to get a good understanding of the field you’ll be working in. First, pinpoint the factors that drive the demand and note the key trends shaping the market. Then, get familiar with the competition: outline their strengths and weaknesses through a comprehensive analysis of their products, marketing strategies, and pricing.
Step 2. Define the features of your product
To come up with a competitive set of features, factor in the results of the market analysis and the specifics of your niche. Pay special attention to your killer feature, a.k.a. a unique selling point — it must offer an innovative solution that makes your video chat app immediately stand out among the rest of the competition.
Step 3. Devise the UI/UX design
In business, design is a tool, so your first priority is to create a straightforward user journey that will smoothly guide the customer through the sales funnel. Then, you can start making things pretty.
Step 4. Write the code and launch the first version
Since the app must work flawlessly, make sure that your video chat app development team consists of skilled professionals with sufficient expertise. It’s also absolutely necessary to conduct regular testing, and especially before launch.
To reach as many potential customers as possible, we recommend using cross-platform frameworks like React Native — it will allow you to roll out versions for both Android and iOS at the same time and at a minimal cost.
Step 5. Set up a feedback loop
Working on a service in voluntary isolation is a bad idea: chances are, the developer will quickly make some unpopular decisions. This is why it’s important to keep in touch with your audience. However, trying to implement every single suggestion is also counterproductive — instead, focus on discerning the most common ones.
Step 6. Release updates
The development process doesn’t really stop until the app shuts down — as long as there is demand for the service, there’ll always be some room for improvement. Add other features from the backlog, scale, and simply bring your app to perfection, all the while maintaining proper communication channels with your target audience.
The costs of developing a video chat app
Video chat app development usually costs from $85,000 to $90,000. Let’s take a look at where these numbers come from:
|Process||Average duration||Average cost|
|Project estimation||8 hours||Free at Purrweb ☺️|
|Project management||Throughout the entire cycle||$11,700|
There are also several important factors that affect the price when you build a video chat app:
- App innovativeness and complexity
- Design complexity
- The number of staff on the team
- Means of contracting: in-house, freelance, outsource
- The team’s location
- The number of supported platforms
Do you have an idea for a video chat app? Purrweb would love to help you bring it to life. We are a team of 190 that will take your project through the entire development cycle — from a concept to an MVP to a multitude of later versions. If this sounds interesting, fill in the form below, and we’ll contact you as quickly as possible.