With each passing year, technology is developing faster and faster. This applies almost to all spheres of life. One of the most innovative areas today is personal mobile gadgets that modern people are accustomed to using almost every minute of everyday life. New applications released by developers are aimed at maximizing the diversity of their customers' leisure and making their lives as comfortable as possible.
One of the most interesting features that appeared in recent years is the ability to create video broadcasts and share them with the world in real time. Thanks to developers of mobile apps, now it is also available to users of mobile devices. Moreover, this new technology became instantly popular in the business. Corporations and start-ups find dozens of applications for live video streaming - services and goods promotion, training, team building, etc.
So, what is a live video broadcast (stream) in its essence? In short - this is the process of transmitting a video signal from the operator's location in real time.
Video streaming app development enables the viewer to see events through the eyes of the one who initiated the live broadcast.
Creating live broadcast applications, developers are exploring all the possible and impossible ways of this new popular idea’s implementations in order to attract more users and increase competitiveness.
Live Streaming App Technologies
What exactly is the live video streaming app technology? What kinds of communications can be helpful for it? What does the video streaming app technology stack consist of?
The technological stack is a set of all software and hardware capabilities that ensure the functioning of any technology. Simpler: these are all technological means (technologies, platforms, languages, frameworks) for creating, in this case, a mobile video streaming application.
Let us start with planning. It is important to remember that the quality of the streaming video application’s operation directly depends on the participation of qualified professionals with a rich experience in the development of applications of this kind.
Before you start developing an application, it is important to determine which of its functions would be primary.
What should be the sequence of the client's work within the application? Based on existing popular streaming applications, like Periscope, such features can be distinguished:
- Registration of an account and creation of a user profile;
- Ability to specify personal data, find users with similar interests and add them to the friendlist;
- Functions for the organization of streaming broadcasts and recording them, if necessary;
- Ability to comment live streams and saved videos;
- Convenient and original user interface;
- Ability to search for broadcasts by the geolocation.
When creating a streaming video application, it is imperative to remember that testing and fixing errors during development is the shortest way to ensure the functionality and popularity of your product. Before you release a finished product into the application store, you should make sure that it is operating completely without problems.
Releasing a product, you must always keep in mind the need to constantly improve and perfect it, make more useful and attractive for customers. Augmentation of the application’s work is a necessary criterion that allows adapting to the growing demands of the consumer.
Read also: Video streaming app development
It is worth considering the possibility of implementing the following additional features to the application:
- Variety of options for the registration of new users, as well as the assortment of data fields in the profile;
- Integration of geopositioning routines, which will allow determining the location of the user;
- Ability to cache streaming video and watch it after the completion of the online broadcast.
Having created a quality product that is gaining popularity among users, it is worth paying attention to such aspects of the further development:
- Interface design improvement;
- Interface animations;
- Selection of formats and resolutions of the video being played;
- Integration of the application with social networks, such as Facebook.
At any stage of the development of the application, it is worth keeping user tastes in mind. A systematic survey of the audience will help to find effective solutions to the challenges for the further development.
Having determined the functions that the application should perform, as well as the ways of its development, it is worth paying special attention to technological components that will create a really high-quality mobile live video streaming app.
Technological Nuances of Creating the Live Broadcast Applications
First of all, a pattern on the creation of the streaming video must be established. This sequence looks like this:
- Capture video/audio and encode them into streaming-ready formats (H.264, MP3);
- Store the encoded streams into a media container (FLV, MP4);
- Use the transport protocol (Real Time Messaging Protocol, RTMP) to deliver the stream to viewers.
The H.264 format is a relatively innovative format for streaming video compression, which is noteworthy for its high compression ratios over the acceptable image quality.
Encoding allows converting the data received from the recorder into a streaming-compatible format. The application captures the stream from the device (smartphone camera, IP camera, etc.), encodes it and delivers to users through a transport protocol by one of two ways:
- Direct delivery to predefined viewers;
- Intermediate storage: the application transmits the encoded stream to the server platform, which gives users the ability to watch live streaming and also can save it for the later viewing.
In the first case, it is enough to have a device equipped with a camera. In the second case, you need to choose a platform for the streaming video. Obviously, the second option gives much more opportunities. Most of all - for marketing research and evaluation of audience coverage.
Streaming Video Platforms - a Base for Live Streaming Apps
To determine which of the streaming platforms is suitable for a particular application development project, it is worth exploring the existing services in more detail:
- Contus VPlay;
- JW Live.
Online channels and streaming videos of the Brightcove platform are managed by the Brightcove Console system. This content management system (CMS) supports the creation and transformation of video content. Brightcove serves as a means for video distribution to many television and media companies.
Livestream is a streaming platform that allows users to create live broadcasts via the Internet, using a camera and a computer. The viewer, in turn, can view the video both on the computer and any other gadgets. Among the well-known organizations that chose this platform for streaming is the Swedish World Economic Forum.
Contus VPlay is an ideal solution for educational institutions and online broadcasters. Direct streaming can be performed on any device, with a variety of expansion options. Contus VPlay closely cooperates with Wowza.
DaCast allows searching for videos upon user’s request. DaCast is one of the most optimal and quality players on the market. In comparison with this platform, Brightcove’s fees are five times higher.
UStream is a service that allows real-time video broadcasting. UStream also provides streaming services for businesses.
Wowza is an industry leader specializing in direct and streaming video deliveries. The advantages of this platform are:
- Delivery of video to any user on any device;
- Ability to cache and store broadcasts;
- Round-the-clock support;
- Multi-level content protection;
- Rich Mobile Streaming set of features that allow creating previews.
Simplicity in use is synonymous with JWLive. JW Live is a proprietary online video player that exists in two versions: free, limited in functions and displaying JWLive watermark during the playback and full-scale commercial variant for business clients.
It will not hurt also to organize a guaranteed delivery of the content to consumers. It is important to remember: the more audience - the more servers and channels you need to transfer information. The most helpful in this are CDNs.
Content Delivery Network (CDN) is an infrastructure that provides guaranteed delivery of content to users through a geographically distributed network of servers. CDN providers distribute the data of the owners of Internet content in such a way that it can reach the end users as quickly as possible. The guarantee of delivery is provided by multiple duplications of client information and caching it on servers that have minimal ping to specific consumers.
Among the providers of CDN services, the most famous are Tier-1 and Akamai Technologies. Servers of both companies, in total, cover 120 countries of the world.
There is no need to download, install and configure anything yourself. The package of CDN services also includes the confidential assistance of highly qualified specialists to evaluate and adjust the equipment and software of the customer.
While developing a video streaming application, one should always remember the quality of the source product itself. For any user, the speed of video transmission and its quality are the most essential selection criteria.
As mentioned above, it is important to provide users of your application with the ability to exchange messages. Most of the existing successful applications at the market employ the services of the PubNub network for this. PubNub has been a leader in the niche for more than seven years to the day. The main product of the company is the program interface (API) for the organization of messaging. At the moment, this network serves more than 300 million devices worldwide.
The main features of the PubNub API are:
- Low load on the battery of the device;
- Availability at all the popular mobile platforms;
- Rich functionality.
There are also features of processing streaming video in iOS and Android. It is no secret that these two platforms are the leaders of the mobile market. Both are of an individual character. When creating a streaming application for online broadcasting on Android, you need to know the architecture of the operating system well.
The iOS system is based on the Free BSD core, which is considered one of the best-operating systems for heavily loaded servers and embedded platforms. Applications for iOS are written in Objective-C and Swift, specific for Apple’s products.
In turn, Android is built over the Linux kernel. The main language of its programming until 2017 was Java - popular and well-known language, however, not very convenient for mobile software. Therefore, at the Google I/O 2017 conference, a start of the transition to the Kotlin language, that includes among all else the advanced functions for video processing applications was announced.
Business Benefits and Ideas for the Streaming Video Usage
Nowadays, more and more entrepreneurs are turning to streaming video. The interest can be explained very simply: this is the best way to interact directly with consumers. Among other things, live broadcasts are a handy tool that helps in distance employee training and conferences.
Let us look at the business advantages of streaming apps:
- Online broadcasting gives an opportunity to attract buyers from all over the world;
- Streaming applications allow conducting video conferences and distance staff training;
- Regular "live communication" gives employees the opportunity to feel themselves a part of the common working environment;
- Rapid response to users’ comments allows them to feel their own importance, and, accordingly, involvement in the process of the improvement of services and products;
- Real-time streaming apps allow assigning presentations and online meetings with subscribers in any part of the globe at set times;
- Streaming business applications are an easy way to convey to the audience the most necessary information about the plans and the latest news of the company;
- The ability to demonstrate to the audience the "backstage" of the workflow is one of the best methods of attracting attention. It always makes possible to explain the structure of the working environment over a finished example.
In everyday life, there are also many ways to use a mobile device camera in the most non-standard, however, the most efficient manners.
Such software as Floor Plan Creator or Homestyler allows creating a design of premises directly in the application. Creating a virtual model with the addition of elements and interior items is no longer a problem!
Applications like Scanner (Android) or Quick Scan (iOS) allow reading product bar-codes and find the detailed information about them on the Internet.
The ability to search for photos and images on the Internet is not a problem with the Google Goggles application. Not only can it search pictures but also scan product bar-codes and look for data about them, find user feedback on the Internet, recognize and translate texts in different languages.
Periscope Technology Stack
Periscope is a major figure in the market for online video broadcasting using special applications based on Android and iOS. This streaming service is the property of Twitter Inc. and was released in 2015. One of the Periscope’s specifics, which distinguish this service from competitors, is the ability to restrict access to video and a feature that allows users to pause and rewind the broadcast.
All the features of Periscope can be divided into following:
- Registration is performed through a personal Twitter account or by the phone number;
- Allows creating streaming video with the ability to rewind and view earlier broadcasts;
- Allows searching for online broadcasts by a set of specific criteria;
- With the help of maps and geolocation allows finding out where and at what time the other users of the service were;
- Hosted videos remain available for 24 hours and then deleted automatically unless otherwise specified by the user;
- Users can leave comments to the broadcast immediately during it.
Message exchange, locating the user’s position, the addition of special effects - this is not a complete list of interesting Periscope’s functions that diversify the user experience. The creators have developed an animated interface. Now users of the application have the ability to create streaming animations or receive alerts in the form of multi-colored animated hearts that report that the new user has joined the broadcast.
Technologies Used in the Development of the Live Video Streaming Apps
Atlas-DB, Cassandra, MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL
Google Analytics, Hadoop, Hive, MixPanel, Mode, Parquet, Pig, Presto, Spark
Amazon CloudFront, Cloudflare, Fastly, Open Connect
Adobe HTTP Dynamic Streaming, Apple HTTP Live Streaming, M2TS, MPEG-DASH, Microsoft Smooth Streaming, RTMP
Media processing platform
Brightcove, Contus Vplay, DaCast, Flash Media Server, JW Live, Livestream, Muvi, Ustream, Vimeo PRO, Wowza Media Systems
Google Maps, MapKit/Core Location (iOS)
Firebase, PubNub, Twilio
To be closer to the friend who is on another continent and look at the world, in fact, through their eyes, is one of the advantages that developers of streaming applications provide their users with.
Live video streaming apps allow diversifying the conduct of business presentations and reduce the distance between the seller and the buyer. Similar applications are a great way to hold conferences, interviews or presentations online.
Creating an application like Periscope requires a detailed planning at the engineering stage but a high-performance application with an interesting interface will surely attract the attention of users.