Video is one of the most viewed types of internet content. In particular, applications that provide streaming video playback are incredibly popular among users, as they allow for interesting persona and events to be viewed live. In this article, we’ll review the basic steps to create a live video streaming app.
Live Streaming Video Statistics
First, let’s look at the facts:
- About 300 hours of new video content is downloaded to YouTube every minute.
- Every three days, a larger amount of video is uploaded to the internet than was provided by the three major US television channels in the last 30 years.
- Videos posted on Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, are viewed about 22 billion times, collectively, per day.
- According to expert forecasts, the cost of video advertising will exceed $11.4 billion by the end of 2017.
- Internet video advertising attracts 18 times more users than ads on television.
You must agree that these stats are impressive. As for a special branch of video content - streaming video - it provides an even greater interest for ordinary users, since it allows full interaction with interlocutors online, practically erasing geographical boundaries.
Most Popular Streaming Apps
Below we will consider the main features of the most popular live video streaming applications.
- Instagram. Live broadcasting was only recently introduced into standard Instagram functionality. Considering the already incredible popularity of this application, this innovation attracted even more new users. What are the benefits? The answer is obvious. Instagram account holders have the opportunity to tell the world about themselves more than was ever possible with photos. Combining this with the already existing Stories feature, the Instagram development team made it highly competitive with Snapchat which, several years ago, offered almost the same opportunities to its users.
- Snapchat. Snapchat is a messenger app that is extremely popular in the US, mostly among people between 13-38 years old. Snapchat’s general function is the exchange of short lived (demonstrated from 1-10 seconds) pictures and videos which self destruct after being viewed. Founded in 2011, Snapchat currently brags an audience of more than 170 million daily users.
- Twitch. Twitch is a special video streaming service, the main target audience of which is video game fans. Twitch is very often used for the organization of game tournament broadcasts, and is actively sponsored by various companies, including- suppliers of gaming hardware and game publishers.
- Youtube Connect. Youtube Connect has opened new opportunities for mobile Youtube users. Now, owners of Google and Youtube accounts using their personal mobile devices based on iOS and Android, can broadcast live from anywhere in the world where the internet is available. This service is not compatible with Facebook and Twitter, currently, so, in order to share new videos in these social networks, you would have to copy the link through the clipboard.
- Facebook Live. Facebook Live is a special solution for video streaming by Facebook users. Using their smartphones, users can open a channel for online broadcasts. The idea is not new, but very popular. Thanks to this application, account owners on this social network will no longer have to create additional profiles in third-party services to organize their own video blog.
- Periscope. Periscope, created by Twitter developers, was one of the first mobile applications allowing users to create and view live video. This application was released in March 2015. By August of the same year, it had gained more than 10 million registered users. Passive users of Periscope can not only watch streams but also comment on them; however, it should be noted that, today, the popularity of Periscope has dwindled greatly, as the developers could not offer any further innovations.
How to Develop a Video Stream App: 8 Basic Components
Now that we’ve decided on the idea, we need to find a way to implement it. The development of any application predictably includes a number of integral elements and processes. Find out how to make a live video streaming app, below.
1. Custom User Profiles
Any application for streaming video must be profile-oriented. This statement is based on the fact that all applications involving interpersonal communication need a certain process to identify individual users. In addition, this type of application provides a number of other advantages, including the possibility to use the most popular accounts for the purpose of monetization (this topic is discussed in more detail, below). This means that you will need to build mechanisms for authentication and select the optimal set of security components. In our opinion, the best option for solving the second task will be the use of known social networks APIs, such as Facebook. What does this mean, in practice? Not only can users create and access their accounts in a simpler way (they do not need to remember numerous logins and passwords for different applications, it is enough to memorize the credentials for the main profile), it also increases profile privacy and safety (such software giants as Facebook, whose servers are developed by a team of talented developers from around the world, have really advanced means of protecting private user data, which makes it impossible for them to be stolen by ordinary intruders). Another inalienable attribute of this component is the ability to personalize the profile. What does this mean? The user is required to fill out an abundance of fields and options. These parameters allow other users to understand, in advance, whether or not they are interested in specific video content.
2. Advanced Search Functionality
The Search function is one of the weakest links in most profile-oriented applications. Unfortunately, the abundance of symbols that can be used to create a nickname, as well as the lack of formalism, provokes certain difficulties with searches for individual users or specific videos. Creating an expanded set of filters will help minimize the likelihood of this problem.
3. Content Storage
For the basic functionality of your mobile video streaming app, it will be enough to ensure that the video can be watched in real time. In the future, we would strongly recommend that you implement the possibility of viewing video broadcasts after they are completed. What do you need to make this possible? To start, you will need some kind of data storage. Given the anticipated popularity of your project and, therefore, a large number of users, cloud storage, which would provide quick access to the files, regardless of the network speed and technical specs of the user device, will be the best solution for storing large volumes of content. To save space in the cloud, it is advisable to think about how long a specific broadcast should be stored after it is live, since stashing it on a permanent basis will simply take up space that can be more rationally used for subsequent broadcasts. Separately, content delivery networks (CDNs) should be mentioned. This type of network service allows the expedited processing of files and video delivery to end users by supplementing the central application server through duplicating the content to peripheral platforms. It also has a strong resistance to DDoS attacks, as well as increased fault tolerance (in the case of interruption of communication between any two nodes, data packets are guaranteed to be delivered to the destination from peripheral servers). Given the above advantages, CDNs are best suited to complement backends of video streaming apps.
4. Video Compression
The minimum acceptable framerate for streaming video is 25 FPS, which is the lower end of the comfort threshold. Even to ensure such basic playback speeds, huge amounts of storage, memory, and bandwidth are needed. Even more resources are required for modern 60 FPS HD video. Therefore, it is very important to provide compression. For this, video codecs are used. These are special algorithms that, by default, are supported by user devices (that is, they do not need to be supplied with your application) and perform the compression and decompression of the video stream. The most common today are the proprietary codecs H.264 and H.265.
5. Commenting Capabilities
Comments are an indispensable attribute of any application created for social interaction. The possibility of instant commenting should be available to both the broadcast author and their viewers. This is a great method of interaction for the "passive" users of your video streaming app; that is, to those who are viewers, exclusively.
As a project aimed at the mass target audience, your live video streaming app should be completely free for users. What are ways to start earning, after its release? The answer is simple - think of the monetization methods. The potential of video content placed on the internet is extremely high. To place ads in a popular application, advertisers are ready to part with considerable sums. These prospects are very promising, as you have to act only as an intermediary, with the task of creating the promotion falling completely on the shoulders of the content generators. As a result, you receive a wonderful passive earnings resource. Less popular but no less effective methods of monetization are the introduction of paid content (for example, online courses, consultations, and other unique content protected by copyright), paid premium accounts (which, for example, provide more storage space, allow recording of broadcasts/HD video, open access to editing functions - trimming, gluing, editing, overlaying audio and subtitles, incorporating copyright protection mechanisms (visible and invisible watermarks), etc.), or paid add-ins, which extend the basic functionality of your application.
Any application designed for a mass audience should be created based on thorough market research. Therefore, without additional monitoring of the user market, you will receive absolutely no guarantees for its further popularization on par with Instagram, Facebook Live, YouNow, Hang w/, Ustream, Youtube Connect, and other similar live video streaming apps. Before releasing your project, test it over a sufficiently large audience of potential users to get the most informative and detailed feedback on required improvements.
8. Augmenting an Existing Functionality Based on Results of Beta Testing
Beta testing is now completed and you have received a number of constructive comments regarding your project. Based on the experience of developing such applications, users most likely lack the following features, which are not necessary for the initial release of an application:
- The possibility of anonymous operation;
- Possibilities for the creation of communities, and friendly ties establishing;
- Screen sharing;
- Private message exchanges;
- User stats (number of views, likes, etc.); and,
- Connecting/importing contacts from known social networks and device storage.
Most Trendy Technologies that are Ready to Be Implemented in Live Streaming
In order for the application to be successful, it is not enough to build it upon a popular concept. Implementing the innovative elements also helps greatly. Let us consider the latest trends in live streaming, in detail.
- H.265 stream compression codec. The H.265 video codec is the latest generation solution. In practice, it provides files with half the size of the frequently used previous format, H.264. Until recently, the main problem with the application of this codec was the low amount of compatible hardware. A year ago, it was very difficult to find mobile devices in a free sale that would support it; however, technology, as we know, does not stand still. In the next few years, the situation promises to level and, thus, will give developers great opportunities to implement H.265 in their software solutions.
- 360-degree live video streams. This is the main trend of 2016-2017 in live video streaming app development. In particular, in 2016 Periscope added panoramic live streams to its functionality, which allowed viewers to visage the entire user's environment and ‘transfer’ each person to the same place as the user. This is one of the most interesting implementations of the presence effect.
- HTML 5. After a period of initial introduction, we now observe the massive move from Adobe Flash technology to HTML 5 in web development, particularly in video streaming. The latter is notably more efficient, and has fewer vulnerabilities, although it requires the use of advanced rendering mechanisms when creating mobile software (the soon to be released React Fiber is expected to be a great help with this).
- 4K resolution. The 4K format was designed for displays with a resolution of at least 8 million pixels and 16:9 aspect ratio. Amazon, Youtube, and Netflix are gradually moving towards using video in this format. The H.265 codec transmits 4K video at a rate of 15-20 Mbps. This format helps the video to look even more realistic and lively.
- High Dynamic Range (HDR). HDR is a technology that allows an extended range of the color spectrum. The nuance of this technology is the lack of its support in the 4K format, which, in turn, supports an even wider range of colors.
In 2017, many internet applications with live broadcasts became popular. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, the total amount of traffic consumed by users to watch video online is inexorably growing. What does this mean for developers? First of all, another niche for creating software, which, with a thoughtful and thorough approach, promises to bring notable profits. In particular, the strongest trend in the field of video marketing, live video stream apps using unobtrusive methods of monetization, have become full-fledged "breadwinners" for their creators. Do you think that this industry will be your key to success? Then start the implementation of the startup safely. After all, it is possible that your live video stream app will become viral and will soon be able to push the now popular Instagram and Facebook Live. Isn’t that a tempting prospect?
The team at Applikey Solutions IT company is actively developing apps for video streaming. We only use advanced programming technologies, as well as the latest trends in the field of UX. We build scalable applications with custom user interfaces, unique design that contains nothing superfluous, and administrative panels that are simple to use even for beginners. We will be very happy to work with new customers. Fill out this form and our experts will contact you within one business day.