Last year, 2.38 billion people watched streaming or downloaded video across all devices. More than three quarters of these people used a mobile device. This is part of a massive trend. In recent years, more and more digital activity is moving onto mobile devices. Given that shift, this article looks at how to build a live streaming app.
Specifically, we’ll cover at a few different issues. First, we’ll distinguish between apps that allow your audience to watch live video streams and apps that allow you to broadcast. Both of these are possible, and we’ll discuss how this process works.
In the latter part of the article, we’ll dive into more technical live streaming details. This includes how to set up mobile apps via the use of APIs and SDKs from professional video streaming solutions.
Mobile streaming dominates viewing
Before we jump in, let’s look at a few of the statistics around mobile streaming–in case you need any more convincing! These numbers show clearly that mobile viewing is dominant and is here to stay.
- More than 58 percent of video plays globally were on mobile devices in late 2017. That figure rose to 60 percent by mid-2018 and continues to climb in 2019.
- By 2023, three-quarters of all mobile traffic will be video. Mobile video is pushing the envelope of data and helping drive forward new technologies like 5G.
- Fans increasingly watch sports on phones and mobile devices. In fact, more than 30 percent (and counting) of fans now stream sports to their phones or tablets. A full 80 percent of sports fans use a “multi-screen” approach while watching sports, looking up stats or chatting with friends while watching. According to David Jurenka, the NFL’s senior vice president for digital media, “Fans aren’t differentiating between a TV, tablet or phone.”
Watch or stream?
Modern mobile apps for watching live streams vary widely. Some are simple platforms. Others provide access to a whole library of on-demand and live streaming content. Creating a custom mobile app allows broadcasters and content creators to envision and realize the exact type of user experience they want. For content creators looking to monetize, mobile apps are ideal. For example, building mobile apps has the potential to grow your subscriber base hugely. To date, mobile app usage has increased 69% year-on-year.
Of course, viewing a live stream isn’t the only possibility. Modern mobile devices are capable of broadcasting as well. This can enable streaming live from remote locations, and more.
As you’d expect, creating your own live streaming app does require some resources. However, it can be a great way to expand your available footage. Modern high-end smartphones have fantastic cameras that can deliver broadcast-quality footage, at least with good lighting and for shorter segments. For example, this approach can work great for TV stations, sports broadcasting, news, and other situations when the ability to have staff and associates broadcast from the field is valuable.
How to build a live streaming app
When it comes to how to build a live streaming app, there are several different approaches. However, for our money, the simplest and most powerful is hands-down the SDK-based approach. However, before we talk about SDKs, we should mention and define APIs.
What is an API?
The term API stands for Application Programming Interface. An API is a simplified, standardized coding language. It allows a developer to easily interact with a given piece of technology. In this case, a video API enables you and your developers to create customized mobile apps.
In other words, an API is like a set of detailed instructions. These make it easy to create a mobile app that interfaces with a online video platform like DaCast. Your developers can use the commands that are specified in the API to make a mobile app that connects with the DaCast platform. It’s all seamless!
According to Streaming Media, “The video workflow and distribution environment is incredibly complex, and the way to build a best-of-breed system or even just gain finer control over tasks—especially when delivering video at scale—is by API.”
Most businesses are migrating to API-based workflows for online video. According to our internal analytics, the number of viewers who watch DaCast live streams and on-demand video on mobile devices increased from 9 percent in 2016 to 39 percent in 2017. That amounts to roughly a five-fold increase—and that increase was highest among broadcasters using DaCast APIs. The number continues to rise today.
What is an SDK?
SDK stands for Software Development Kit. NordicAPIs defines an SDK as “a set of tools, libraries, relevant documentation, code samples, processes, and or guides that allow developers to create software applications on a specific platform.” In other words, an SDK is a kind of workshop that allows developers to easily create actual working examples.
In short, an API is like a set of instructions, an SDK is an actual toolkit that helps you put those instructions into use.
iOS and Android SDKs
The key element in how to build a live streaming app is an SDK. Building in the functionality of an API, an SDK makes it possible to create apps much more easily.
APIs and SDKs make this all tick. Do you need an app that can record and stream live video, or an app dedicated to watching live streams or video on demand? Perhaps you need to manage an ongoing stream from a mobile app. Maybe you want to integrate these functionalities into an existing app.
DaCast offers iOS and Android SDKs to ease app development for the entire mobile market. These SDKs make it possible to build, test, submit to the app stores, and release a mobile video application in as little of one month. You can also integrate all of the great features of the DaCast platform, including:
- Video monetization
- Security options
Our code imports directly to Xcode or Android Studio, allowing a developer to get started right away. Comprehensive documentation makes it easy to use these SDKs as well.
Let’s review. To launch your own mobile app, you’ll need to follow this process.
- First, you need a DaCast account. You can sign up using the free trial here. Premium accounts and higher have access to the DaCast API.
- Download the DaCast SDK for your platform (iOS or Android).
- Load this SDK into the appropriate mobile development environment (Android Studio, Xcode).
- Use the provided API code and SDK tools to develop your mobile app.
- Package the app and deliver it for approval to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Here’s a guide for this process. Alternatively, you can use internal distribution mechanisms.
We hope this article has helped you learn how to build a live streaming app. As the above steps indicate, this process is easier than ever before. If you need technical help or a consultation, DaCast offers a range of professional services including app creation. Our technicians can help you get up and running in no time.
Are you ready to test out the DaCast platform now? We offer all the above features, and much more. All DaCast streams are delivered via the worlds largest and fastest CDN, Akamai. Plus, we offer a 30-day free trial (no credit card required). Just click the button below to sign up and start streaming live in no time.
Any questions, comments, or ideas about encoding software? We love to hear from our readers, so post your thoughts in the comment section below. We will get back to you. Also, for exclusive offers and regular live streaming tips, you can join our LinkedIn group.
Thanks for reading, and as always, best of luck with your live streams!