Features to Consider When Building a Video Streaming App

By Amit.A, Friday, 26 February 2021

Video streaming helps a user to download video while watching it. It saves time on buffering and enables the users to view the content online rather than saving it on a device.

With time, our appetite for digital content has increased immensely. With the availability of fast internet connection and advancement in the technology, people consume enormous amount of visual content worldwide. Applications such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Youtube and others are biggest trendsetters in the video streaming segment.

Right from the availability of content over devices of all the types and screen sizes to the content delivery network, everything is about the experience these big video streaming apps sell. It is all about finding new media streaming solutions in order to provide better video streaming services. Recently, Netflix launched the sleep timer feature, which is a well-thought decision based on the fact that people binge watch the content about every other day.

Similarly, other video streaming software too are making new advancement that have not just improved the user experience on the application but also have ensured people would stick with your product for convenience you provide. It started from accessing high quality video on any device and there is no end to their daunting expectations.

Meanwhile there is no end to innovation, there should be a definite set of features you want to start with. This would allow you to not just help you launch successfully in the market, but would give you a good base to make progress in future. So, are a few things you must know about Video Streaming Application Development in order to turn your idea to an app.You can choose skip right to features section.

What is streaming?

Streaming is a continuousf transmission of audio and video files form a server to a client. When you are watching TV or listening to a podcast on an internet connected device, the media file stored in the server gets temporarily stored in your device remotely – allowing you to watch or listen the content. Also, the transmission happens a few seconds at a time over the internet.

The audio and video data is broken down into data packets, each packet contains a small piece file and and audio and video player in the browser or application on the client device will receive the data packets and interpret them as video and audio.

What is live streaming?

Live streaming is when the data is received by the client device in real time. It does not need to be first recored and stored even temporarily on a remote location. Rather, TV broadcasts, video game streams and social media videos are live streamed.

In the regular streaming, the content is created beforehand, stored and then sent out in form of data packets ot the viewers. But in live streaming the audience receive the content on the go, instantaneously at the same moment something is being recorded somewhere.

If you want to build an app like Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, they are all video conferencing applications that allow live streaming to establish a visual and audiocommunication between multiple users.

How does live streaming work on a technical level?

Regular Streaming and Live Streaming can be differentiated on the basis of their function and also on the technical level. Meanwhile, we would be talking in-depth on streaming, we would end our discussion on live streaming by giving you little gist about the technical aspect of the application. Also you can consult our technical experts with regards to video conferencing app development or any idea you have for live streaming application.

When the a video is being live-streamed the content goes through these following main steps:

  1. Segmentation( the live stream content is divided into smaller segments a few seconds in length)
  2. Compression (data compression by removing redundant visual information)
  3. Encoding (the data is encoded into different digital format, recognized by a variety of devices such as – H.264, VP9, AV1, HEVC)
  4. Content Delivery Network Distribution& Caching (CDN is a distributed network of server that chaces and serve the content on behalf of the original server)
  5. Decoding&Video Playback (the user device receives, decodes and decompress the segmented video data and watches it)

What is the difference between streaming and downloading?

Coming back to video streaming, one of the biggest difference between streaming and downloading is that while streaming the the data is stored at a remote location temporarily and sent to your devices in the form of data packets. But when you download a video it is stored in the hard drive of your device and you cannot play it until it is finished.

Video streaming allows you to play the content on the browser without waiting for it. It is more convenient. You don’t require to copy the video and save it. The video would load in segments and plays. Also the information is not saved locally on the device.

Other than that, the downloadingtakes up a hard drive space. And you would have to not just wait for downloading a big file, but would also have to compromise your device space. Streaming saves you form all this, and allow you to access the content from the rapidly flowing data packets to your browser.

Streaming Methods

There are two types of streaming methods –

  1. User Datagram Protocol or UDP
  2. Transmission Control Protocol or TCP

Video streaming applications are highly dependent on the transfer of the data packets. The faster is the process, the better experience it renders to your users. UDP and TCP are the transport protocols that are used with Internet Protocol (IP). They are used for moving the packets of data across the network.

TCP

TCP opens a dedicated connection before transmitting data. TCP makes sure that the data packet arrives in order. Which ensure the video streaming would be much moreprofound and the experience would be quality-driven. It is more reliable because the data loss is very less while using TCP.

UDP

UDP basically only focuses on the transfer. It doesn’t order the data and thus, it is very likely that the streamed video loses some data. Of course, UDP gets things done much faster, but quality is not something you achieve with UDP.

Again, there is a brewing debate on speed vs reliability. If you ask us, the thing which you need to consider while choosing between TCP anad UDP is the use case. Consider video conferencing application, where speed is very important, you need instant connection, and real-time streaming of data. but when you talk about a music streaming app development, quality becomes uncompromisable and developers prefer using TCP. Reliability is dictates in the video-on-demand-services or video streaming software.

Also, the small loss of data packet does not affect the quality too much, be it TCP or UDP. It is all about what you are meaning to achieve with the product you wish to develop.

What is buffering?

Remember the old times when you hated YouTube because of buffering? And then came along high-speed internet and now you just can’t get enough of YouTube.

Buffering is when the connection is briefly interrupted and the media player is waiting for the data packets to arrive. Streaming media players load the data packets a few seconds at a time, which means while you are watching the video of few seconds ahead is still loading.

A brief interruption in the connection can cause delay in the loading process, and thus the video or the audio buffers.

But, meanwhile we all hate buffering. It is something that ensures the video can the run smoothly and continuously. However, over slow connections, buffering might take a lot of time.

Here are some other factors that might cause slow streaming.

What factors slow down streaming?

Network Issues

There are two types of network issues that can cuase delay in streaming –

  1. Network Congestion
  2. Network Latency

User Side

There are three types of user-side issues that can cause delay in streaming –

  1. WiFi problems
  2. Slow-performing cliend devices
  3. Low bandwidth

How can you make streaming faster?

The stream quality depends on many factors. Many factors can cause delay and performance degradation. Consider video content same as the any other kind of web content. The streamed content is stored at a hosting location. The location itself affects the quality of stream. In case any type of content access over the internet, the data packets have to travel the distance between the server and the client. If you are in New York and the sever is in Las Gastor the content has to cross 3000 miles to reach the location. Thus, you might face buffering or the video might not play at all.

Content delivery network or CDN can help you fasten the content delivery. The improved performance helps you in improving the user experience too. The CDN helps store the content in locations that are close to the user. And from that location it transfer the data to the browser. This improves, speed and also the quality is less degraded as the loss of packets is ighly reduced.

CDN have become a necessity for video streaming app. It gives them a competitive edge in the market. It helps them fight latency issues and reduce buffering.

Features to consider when building a video streaming app

Watching vidoes take up to around 1/3 rd of the total user activity time online. Consumers on an average spend 1.5 to 3 hours each day watching online videos.

Regular streaming and live video streaming application both have a grabbed attention of people and have promising opportunities waiting for you to explore.

1. General features required in a video streaming mobile application

a. Admin Features

Admin features translates into app functionality that helps you in planning, organizing, directing and controlling the application. Every video streaming application would have the following admin panel features:

  • Upload video or Mass Upload
  • Delete video, album, style, and artist
  • Manage Subscribers & Users
  • Manage advertising and promotions
  • Run Various Loyalty Plan
  • Publication of the video in one click
  • Edit video, album, style and artist
  • Add video, album, style, and artist
  • Manage subscriptions & memberships

b. User Features

User features are the features that allow users to perform certain functions or adjustments in the application as per their preference. Here are a few user features that every video streaming application should have:

  • Browse and Search Content
  • Select Language & genre
  • Play Video Preview
  • Watch video streaming
  • Add video to a playlist
  • Download video and listen offline
  • Sharing the video on social networks
  • Create Private and public playlists
  • Search style, album, artist, video name
  • Play Video In PIP Mode
  • Lockscreen info (artist, video, cover)
  • The search covers artist, albums & videos
  • Manage devices in your Subscription

2. Advanced features for video streaming application

a. Social Login and Sign ups

Almost all the new apps coming to the market have social logins and signups. It improves the user experience and takes away the tedious task of entering their personal information. It helps in shortening the signup process and allows people to use any of his or her social media account to use your app.

b. User Onboarding

User onboarding is probably the most ignored features, but is an ultimate way to help your user navigate on your application. It helps them understand the usability of each feature and is a great interactive experience that engages your users for a longer period of them with you, unless they have seen everything there is on the app. A lot of applications are uninstalled in an hour after they are downloaded. User Onboarding is a way to hedge your application from it.

c. Behaviour Tracking

Behaviour tracking allows you to suggest content as per a user’s liking. Initially when the content is less, people can easily browse through your video library, but once the content becomes huge, people find it very difficult to search the content of their choice.

Behavioural tracking will allow you to study the kind of genre he/she is interested in, and thus would suggest them a content that they might love to watch. Push recommendations too are a great way to generate user interest. It is also a tool to promote new content and would help you gain more views.

d. Bitrate

Bitrate, as the name suggest is relative to the streaming quality. We have extensively talked about how internet connection dictates the quality of a video stream.

To avoid broken connections on your application, you can add the bitrate features where users can choose the quality in which they want to watch the content. This would improve their video streaming experience by allowing them to enjoy content even in internet connections with low bandwidth.

e. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence has penetrated in about every industry. It is in the top 10 trends of 2021 and you must not ignore the immense possibilities it brings into video streaming app development.

AI helps you gain useful insight. By adding features such as likes, dislike, review, etc.; you can collect a huge amount of information from the users and understand their user persona. Once you have user persona you can use it in your benefit by suggesting them the right content and give them a personalized experience on the app.

f. Role-based dashboard

You can create dedicated dashboards for different teams which helps them in improving their work efficiency and decision making. The dashboard shows you real-time statistics, allow you to analyse user engagement, understand the app behaviour and much more. Using these useful metrics, you can create different marketing strategies and target your prospective customer base.

g. Real-time analytics

There is much more than just marketing tactics that needs to be done when you are running a video streaming platform. As a super Admin, you would be needing real-time analytics to see various operations running simultaneously on the application. From your super admin board; you can checkout any sub-admin board and visualize the number in the pie chart, reports and more.

h. In-app voice assistance

Voice assistance is a must have in your application. About every smartphone has its own assistant now. For example, SIRI on Iphone helps in making it easier for user to perform function with a voice command. Similarly, you can use this quality to allow users perform search on your application. An in-app assistance is great for music streaming apps too, which are used mostly when people are working out or driving or more. This allows them to access their favourite music without having to even touch the phone.

i. Notifications

If you are using Netflix you might be aware of the whatsapp notification feature of the app. It sends reminder over WhatsApp to users when their listed movie or series is available to watch.

Furthermore, push notifications are very common in video streaming applications to inform users of new arrivals and more. This way, you are able to engage users on the go and improve their experience by bringing seamlessness in the application.

j. CRM integration

Customer Relationship Management software is a great tool to manage your customers and improve their app experience. It allows you to see their feedback on the application and helps the app developers to improve experience on the application.

k. Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs as the name suggest are the programs specifically run for the loyal customers. It allows you to reward them and improve their app experience by allowing them to use these points to get discount of some sort on the application. It also keeps you users engaged n the app.

l. Digital Asset Management

Most of the videos have restricted rights, which are a asset for the company. You cannot legally run a video streaming app, and put out a content without having a shared ownership of the content. These certifications are digital asset for the app, and thus you can manage them well on the Admin dashboard. You can transform, secure and manipulate the digital assets too.

m. Data Storage and Management

Video streaming applications have to archive the data and save them for future reference. The video streams on a device via a provider server and then gets deleted from the server when a person is done watching. This information is needed to be stored and managed for future references.

3. Video Streaming App Trends for 2021 and beyond

Trends help you in staying ahead of the curve and improve your return on investment. It allows you to add-on the necessary features to the application that can help in improving the user experience and retain them for a long-time. Here are some top trends in Video streaming app development for 2021 and beyond.

a. 5G is a gamechanger

The world is preparing for 5G internet and so should apps. In no time the video stream applications would start preparing for the next-generation cellular network technology. With that would come faster and more reliable internet speed.

As per IHS Markit, applications that would be supporting 5G would rule the market. In a survey, 29% consumers said they would pay more premium if the 5G provided better video-streaming on the mobile devices and reduce buffering.

b. Immersive streaming technology

With high-speed internet comes 4K video streaming that require 30 MBPS internet bandwidth. This was not possible for people to until now. But with 5G coming, you must not overlook the possibility of your competitors preparing to offer 4K videos on their platform and so should you.

c. Premium Market

Netflix was at the epitome of the video streaming market, but soon Disney, HBO, Peacock Premium, Hotstar started giving it a tough competition and they succeeded to a great extent.

Today, people are taking multiple subscriptions, they are not depending on one platform. This gives you a great opportunity in the market. Live streaming app development too has taken deep roots as people are looking for apps that provide them live stream of sports and other genres.

As the video streaming trends rises, the opportunities of penetrating the market too open up for new players. Advertising revenue, and more are other monetizing opportunities can be used to create a constant revenue generation source.

d. Innovation in Monetization

One third of the video streaming sites monetize their content through subscription models. In no time we would entering the stage where subscription fatigue would dry out the market.

To stay unaffected in those times and stand out from competition, consider innovative monetization methods such as pay-per-view and advertising rather than the subscription model.

Also bundling different subscription package is a good idea altogether. Disney+ bundle their content to run on other video streaming applications. This is very likely to expand in the future.

e. CTV

Connected TV or CTV refers to streaming on the television. Technology has made it possible to download applications on the TVs, gaming consoles, and other streaming devices to watch your favourite content.

In 2021, go beyond desktop, smartphones and tablets and look into the future of video streaming. In no time CTV would become a common phenomenon, in fact, big industry players are already streaming their content on Amazon Firestick, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Roku, Play Station.

Concluding

Despite the fact that there is a huge opportunity in Video streaming industry, you must not underestimate the competitors. Smaller video streaming platforms are gaining a strong market presence and with each passing time the competition is one the rise.

Considering you too would be launching your video streaming app soon; you must focus on running the platform in a very professional manner. This requires both dedication and lot of support from videos streaming app builders and also from the 3rds party sources for dedicated services such as hosting solutions, CDN distributors and more.

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