Magdalena Jackiewicz
Editorial Expert

How to create a video conferencing app like Zoom?

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Video conferencing apps boomed during the Covid-19 pandemic. 2020 has brought massive uncertainties that have forced the global population and many businesses to work remotely. Video conferencing software helped us stay in touch and ensure business continuity.  

According to TechCrunch, there were 62 million downloads of video conferencing apps in the first week of March 2020 alone, both for business and personal uses. In fact, apps like Zoom became the platforms for conducting daily business operations and stayed with us in the post-pandemic times.

This industry’s potential has ample room for entrepreneurs to enter with their own video conferencing tool. If you’re considering building one, you’ll be entering a tough market that offers a high growth potential. 

What is video conferencing software?

Let’s take a closer look at Zoom. The streaming app allows you to conduct audio and video calls and supports up to 1,000 participants in a single meeting. People from all around the world can join in as long as they have an internet connection and a meeting link – they also have the option to turn off their camera or microphone at any time. 

Zoom wants its customers to get the most out of its features so that the virtual meetings are as close as possible to traditional conferences. Group video calls, screen sharing, file sharing and text chat are some of its key features.

If you’d like to get a better understanding on how a video conferencing platform like Zoom works from a technical perspective, take a look at our guide to building a video streaming application.

Video conferencing app market perspectives

There are many reasons for investing in a custom video conferencing solution. Here are some of them:

  • According to Global Market Insights, video conferencing services is an ever-growing market (CAGR 10%) with increasing valuation, which will exceed $95 billion by 2032. 
  • Audio calls are never as effective as a video conference. Face-to-face interactions between the team increases collaboration, and the speedy knowledge transfer increases overall work efficiency, especially in remote teams. 
  • Schools and universities were restricting entry to their campuses during the pandemic, and many of them continue to offer online courses today, leaving plenty of room for new companies to enter with dedicated video conferencing apps. They are being used by colleges, too!

What are the must-have features of a modern video conferencing app? 

As the video calls app market continues to grow, we can observe more robust platforms emerging across different industries. Here’s what your solution should include to remain competitive:

Video and voice calls

No surprises here! Your Zoom alternative should allow users to easily interact through HD video with clear sound on both sides. To achieve it, you should best rely on the WebRTC protocol that follows a publish-subscribe pattern and supports real-time transmission at minimal latency. 

Group video calls

Today’s video conferencing applications must also support group calls to connect users all over the world. These apps are commonly used to facilitate team meetings for remote teams and streamline conferences with participants working from home in remote locations. 

Call recording

Especially in the work environment, teams may want to record meetings for their archives and to allow team members who weren’t able to participate to familiarize themselves with the discussion. Ideally, the recordings are stored in the cloud. 

File sharing

Users must be able to quickly and easily share files with each other. This feature is crucial for improving collaboration and knowledge sharing with participants dispersed around the globe. 

User registration and profile management

Make it simple for the user to register with your service and to later manage their personal profile. There’s no need to collect too much data here, so do not overload the screen with unnecessary information. Definitely allow them to add a profile picture, but ensure the personal information remains private. 

App onboarding

Since every digital tool has its learning curve, it’s good to include an onboarding process within the app that will be launched once a user completes the registration process. Bear in mind that a good onboarding process demonstrates how to use the key functionalities of the tool in a succinct way.   

Encryption

Conversations must be encrypted for security and privacy reasons – there is no compromise in this case. For extra security, admins can apply end-to-end encryption (E2EE) of meetings, but that will have certain functionalities disabled. In the case of Zoom, cloud recording, live streaming, breakout rooms and other functions are taken out. 

Text chat

The chatting functionality will be used by participants to support meetings and conversations – they can ask questions or share links to documents, etc. There are different third party options that you can integrate with your video conferencing application, e.g. Twilio or Firebase. 

Screen sharing

This feature allows a user to display their screen to the video call participants in real-time. It’s required for presentations, online tutorials and more. Screen sharing comes in handy when remote teams need to collaborate on a document or project.   

Push notifications

Push notifications are a great way to keep users engaged and informed – they can be prompted about an upcoming meeting or a new incoming message or call. They can also help businesses with announcing new features or necessary software updates. 

Noise block

Present-day video conferencing software leverages AI technology to make the video conferencing experience more hassle-free. The noise blocking function can divert disruptive sounds, such as paper shuffling, whispering or keyboard typing. It can also recognize when someone isn’t speaking at a given moment and mute the mic. 

Virtual background

This feature is already a standard in video conferencing apps. It enhances the video conferencing experience by allowing users to choose a relevant background or even upload their own photos. It’s also useful for presenters when they want to create a non-distracting view for the audience, or a branded one, for that matter. 

Virtual hand rising

You can improve communication in a group call by allowing participants to raise a virtual hand when they want to speak. In this way, you will prevent many people from speaking at the same time and improve communication. 

Polls 

This feature allows hosts to create a poll and share it with participants in a meeting to swiftly gather responses from them. It can be used to e.g. find a suitable date for a next video conference call or to gather participants’ opinion about a specific topic.

How to build an app like Zoom in 6 steps?

The process of building a Zoom alternative won’t be much different than creating any other piece of software. Of course, you will have to make tech stack considerations that are specific to video conferencing solutions, but other than that, the procedure follows a standard software development process. 

Step 1: Research the market for a rock-solid idea

When developing a new video conferencing platform, it's important to research the current market to ensure you build something that’s truly competitive. You may find that existing Zoom alternatives do something better. The competitive analysis gives you an opportunity to add special features to your application and make them stand out from others. Also, find out as much as you can about your target group – the style and functionality of your app should be adjusted to their needs and preferences. 

Step 2: Design an alluring UI/UX 

Attractive user interface will be more appealing to people. You might create an app for millennials, for the corporate executives, and for college students. The UI design has to be adjusted to that group to make the user experience better. While consumers are intelligent enough to quickly understand how something works, it's also important that the functionalities are not too difficult to find. From an interface perspective, your design needs to be simple, intuitive and easy to use. If you’d like to dig deeper into this topic, we’ve written an entire ebook about building products that sell

Step 3: Focus on the architecture 

The back-end development process includes many stages. It includes selecting the right tech stack, working on servers and the database. In fact, an app like Zoom will require more advanced techniques for building its own server from the ground up. You will have to select a relevant queueing system, streaming protocols, storage and Content Delivery Network, among other things. For more details, check out my other article where I discuss the architecture of a video streaming app in detail. 

Step 4: Start the development 

You should have a good understanding of the functionalities you would like to include in your Zoom alternative before you begin developing it. SDKs like Agora, Sinch or MirrorFly are available online to assist developers in building video chat applications. When selecting a software development company to cooperate with, check whether they have experience in creating similar projects.  

Step 5: Test the app 

The testing phase comes after the application has been built. By examining all of the algorithms and removing any problems, testing ensures that the application will perform as expected for users. In this way, your application will function and be as effective as you expected once it is released. 

Step 6: Pick the right monetization strategy

There are many ways to make money with a video chat app, here are some ideas:

  • In-app advertising: one of the most popular monetization strategies, the video chat app can be monetized through in-app advertising. 
  • In-app purchases: you could provide users of your video conferencing service an opportunity to buy premium features such as additional number of participants or customizable themes at an additional charge. Zoom offers numerous cool add-ons, including Otter.ai (live meeting notes), Krisp (noise cancelling tool) and many others. 
  • Subscriptions: these can be offered at different tiers, e.g. priced according to usage.

For more inspiration on monetization strategies, check out our article on SaaS pricing models

Video conferencing app development cost

The cost of creating a Zoom-like application is determined by a number of factors. You'll need to consider things like:

  • Application features and functionalities 
  • Platforms on which the app will be available
  • Technologies to be used 
  • Application complexity 
  • Chosen engagement model 

Truthfully, there are more aspects you should think about when determining the cost of your video conferencing service. Zoom is an example of a complex video conferencing app that incurs high costs when it’s developed from scratch. A similar app may cost you $50000 or more depending on the desired services and features. 

Building a Zoom alternative with RST Software

It’s a good time for video conferencing platforms. Online meetings and virtual conferences became a standard in the post pandemic times. If you’re looking for a partner to support you in building a video conferencing platform, we’ll gladly apply our expertise in the subject matter to help you release a usable tool with a high selling potential. Just contact me at magda@rst.software to discuss the details.

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