How to Get Around All the Pitfalls in Building Apps with Voice Feature
Inexpensive, sometimes completely free calls through apps without using a phone line... sounds like a dream? In fact, this dream can come true, everything is real! You only need to take advantage of VoIP software.
However, you may have already heard of it, haven't you? VoIP apps have become very popular lately, examples are everywhere, including Viber and Skype. Do you want to compete with them and win some of their users? You have a chance if you know what pitfalls you should expect in developing VoIP technology and creating applications with a voice chat service.
We’re ready to help you with our article, in which we'll tell you a great many important things, such as who your competitors are (ie best VoIP apps) and how to build a successful VoIP Environment.
What is VoIP and how does it work?
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol; it’s also known as IP Telephony. The name is quite eloquent and implies that the technology offers voice communications over the Internet. To implement VoIP tools, you don't need either phone lines or a mobile GSM/3G network.
In so doing, IP telephony provides the user with the same features as traditional telephone communications, namely, a conversation with the right caller in real-time, but much, much cheaper.
By the way, let's see what helps reduce the cost of VoIP calls.
Why are calls via voice over IP solutions cheaper?
No investment needed to build infrastructure. To offer landline telephony services, it’s necessary to create cable communication lines of enormous length. To provide mobile services, special cell towers are required. And Voice over Internet Protocol is based on the World Wide Web, that is, VoIP providers didn't have to make their own infrastructure - it already existed.
Another type of payment. Traditionally, the payment is determined by the duration of the phone call (plus a location factor: calls abroad are much more expensive because the distance is also significant in this case). However, if we’re talking about voice and video chats through VoIP technology, then only Internet connection and the amount of transmitted traffic are being taken into account.
Pauses in calls are free. As you understand, in a normal mobile or landline phone conversation, it doesn't matter if you're silent or speak with the caller: you still pay for the time spent (even if it's been wasted). But when it comes to business VoIP services, you can block the transmission of so-called "pauses". And it also makes Voice over IP solutions much cheaper.
By the way, you're likely to be interested in how the history of all the best VoIP services started... namely, when, in what year did the Voice over Internet Protocol first appear?
A brief history of the VoIP business industry
VoIP began its history at the end of the 20th century (in 1995, to be precise) when VocalTec appeared. It was VocalTec that pioneered the first Internet phone (at least the first widely available). A year later, the voice mail application had also been launched: its main task was to help users send voice messages to the recipient's phone via the Internet. In 1998, another breakthrough occurred: the same company had provided the possibility to make phone calls between computers and special VoIP phones (or, rather, between their users).
By 2003, the number of VoIP calls had reached 25% of the total number of voice calls. And today VoIP tech solutions have become an integral part of the daily lives of many people around the world.
Now let’s see how VoIP works.
The principle of VoIP technology
VoIP technology provides the ability to transmit voice or any multimedia content over the Internet Protocol (IP) networks. The method is based on the transformation of analog audio signals into digital data.
It's a little confusing, right? Let's make it more clear.
Analog voice communications are being converted to data packets, and these packets are being transmitted over an IP network. VoIP uses special codecs to encapsulate data and sends the required message. Then it removes packets from encapsulation, transforming them back to sound at the other end of the connection.
The main advantage of VOIP telephony is that information is being transmitted, as we’ve mentioned, digitally through special communication channels with high bandwidth. Thanks to such an approach, data transfer is much faster, and communication with the caller is better, regardless of his location.
It sounds complicated, but you don't have to delve into the details of the process. As to different types of VoIP service Providers, they do need to understand all of the above (and much more).
Who are they, VoIP providers?
First of all, the provider ensures an effective communication channel between callers. In addition, he must guarantee the reliability of its operation, the absence of interference on the line, as well as the proper quality of voice transmission. To achieve the perfect result, the provider should use special proxy servers and high-end telecommunication equipment.
How to choose VoIP providers?
Location. You need to pick out a group of providers who work in the countries you want to cover (you should consider the nature of your business). It'll be the first iteration in the selection process.
Additional services and features. Now you have to study the sites of selected VoIP providers and choose those that offer the services you’d like to order. You may need VoIP solutions for small businesses or, conversely, advanced features targeted at large companies would come in handy. You should decide by judging from your specific situation.
Tech support. It'll be a definite advantage if the company offers constant (ideally, round-the-clock) support. So you can always ask a question to its team.
Security. Make sure there is protection of communication channels and accounts from hacking. As an example: protection is possible with Voice VPN based on IPSec encryption.
Price. Alas, many of us have a limited budget, and therefore the price is, too, a very important factor. It cannot be ignored.
Types of VoIP solutions
Let's talk about the types of VoIP calls and the equipment required for each case.
Phone-based VoIP calls. If you prefer to call using a landline phone, you'll need the phone itself, as well as a special VoIP adapter. Then it all depends on the type of your adapter: some of them plug into a phone socket, others require a router. Be sure to check whether the equipment parts are compatible with each other.
Computer-based VoIP calls. The second option to make VoIP calls is with a computer. You’ll need to have:
a computer with internet access;
a special program. There are many examples: the same Skype, as the most striking one. Sometimes programs allow making calls only between its users, and sometimes they give the opportunity to call on mobile phones (or even landlines).
additional equipment. However, nothing complicated is required, speakers and a microphone (or headsets) would be enough.
Mobile-based VoIP calls. Everything is even simpler here: a smartphone and a special voice communication app will do just fine. Of course, an Internet connection is also necessary, this is a must-have condition.
More about VoIP applications
There are a lot of voice chat apps on the market, and each one is trying to attract maximum users. Most often, these programs are free, but functionality is usually limited. Paid advanced features, as a rule, are needed by big companies requiring complex VoIP services such as recording and filtering calls.
As in the case of the desktop paid and open-source VoIP software, voice over IP solutions aimed at mobile devices can be of two types:
those allowing people to communicate only with other app users;
those providing the ability to call real phone numbers. It all depends on the selected program.
VoIP App Development would be interesting to different audiences. We'll distinguish 2 main ones:
companies seeking to improve their own business processes. If this is your case, you're on the right track: VoIP setup in your businesses will bring the company a lot of benefits.
companies providing voice chat apps to markets (i.e. competitors of Viber and Whatsapp)
Whichever group you belong to, you must find out what benefits VoIP brings. And if you're only a provider who wants to create the best VoIP phone app, you, too, should be aware of what is beneficial to the client. It’s the only way to sell your product.
Sure enough, the main business benefit of VoIP is the ability to build more efficient corporate communications systems with good voice chat software. We’re talking about the following:
simple and cheap implementation of VoIP tech solutions;
free voice communication within the company, even if its offices are located in different parts of the world;
access to all communication opportunities at home and on business trips (via the Internet);
the ability to integrate voice chat services into business applications;
advanced capabilities for recording conversations and statistics;
increased confidentiality of conversations.
All that's left is to choose the best VoIP service for small businesses or large companies, depending on what one needs in his particular case.
Examples of top VoIP apps
Now, it’s time to look at the market leaders, those who managed to win no end of loyal users around the world. It is with these leaders that you'll have to compete in the future.
Maybe your program, too, will be able to become one of these top VoIP apps… eventually. Why not?
Skype. Let's start with perhaps the most famous application - Skype. Many consider it the best VoIP app for Android & iPhone (as well as desktop), and not without reason. After all, Skype, as we said earlier, allows you to call both other users of the program, and to mobile and landline numbers. Though, if you don't have to pay to contact Skype users, the situation changes when you need to make a call to someone’s mobile or landline phone.
Viber, another undoubted leader in the market in question. There is no need to describe in detail all its voice communication features: instant messages, VoIP calls, including group ones, access to cool stickers, and more. Surely, Viber offers a maximum of opportunities to communicate with our loved ones and business partners in a really comfortable way and without extra costs.
WhatsApp. The app is similar to Viber, its main purpose is to provide communication through messages and calls. And again, a fee may be charged only for data transfer, the voice minutes of the user's tariff plan remain untouched.
Facebook Messenger. There is hardly a person who has never heard of Facebook. Such glory is well-deserved, the owners of the company are doing their best to satisfy the various needs of their customers. That's why, having conquered the social media market, Facebook began to expand its functionality. Among other things, Facebook Messenger, a special instant chat program, has appeared. And it's not only about user-to-user messaging: F.M. also allows making voice and video calls.
WeTalk, one of the best VoIP apps for iPhone devices. And although there is no Android version, iOS users are quite satisfied. And why not, if they can freely and practically without payment (at least extremely cheaply) call the right person, no matter what country they are in right now.
Most of the examples above are instant messaging applications. The exception is Facebook, which was originally a social network (as you of course know). And this proves that voice communication features can be added to the app of any type.
Voice call and messaging features
VoIP solution development should begin with the formulation of basic requirements for the future mobile service. We offer you several options.
The caller ID allows you to decide whether to accept the call, reject it, and so on.
If you cannot receive the call right now, the voicemail feature prompts the caller to leave a voice message, which you'll listen to later.
To successfully compete in the market, you need to create a real group voice chat app. It means the user would be able to communicate with three or more callers at the same time.
Call blocking works in conjunction with the caller ID and blocks the calls from unwanted interlocutors. Such a feature would come in handy more than once.
Call forwarding is used to transfer a call from one phone (or number) to another. You can also transfer the call to another service, such as voice mail (we’ve mentioned voice mail earlier, remember?).
Advanced VOIP solutions
The following advanced features are mainly focused on business purposes:
Remote control of the phone system (via the web portal).
Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR). This will simplify the work with regular customers.
Auto Secretary. A great feature to greet customers and offer them a menu with a choice of functions (let's say which department to switch the caller to).
Automatic call distribution so that each of the calls is automatically routed to the desired department.
Call Bandwidth and Duration Reports.
Best VoIP APIs to use in voice chat apps
VoIP App Development, as you've already understood, is a complicated process. To simplify it, you can use API solutions.
There are a lot of API providers, we describe only a few key players in the market.
Twilio is a platform allowing developers to easily integrate various communication methods into their applications. The creators of Twilio claim that a couple of lines of code are enough to make VoIP calls possible.
The main advantages of Twilio:
Adequate pricing policy and flexible tariff system;
Support for various programming languages, including Python, Java, PHP, Ruby, Node, and .Net (C #);
High-quality connections thanks to reliable software, which is estimated at a maximum of 99.95% according to SLA (Service Level Agreement).
Voice chat development is also possible using another API, namely Nexmo.
Nexmo, a cloud communication system, offers APIs aimed at initializing phone numbers, sending and receiving SMS, and also at making calls. These features will improve a lot of different applications, including those focused on business solutions.
The main advantages of Nexmo:
easy to use APIs;
global market coverage;
competent technical support.
Pilvo assures that the SDKs it provides will allow you to create the best app for VoIP calls. In addition to mobile applications, you can also build web platforms with voice call and messaging features.
The main advantages of Pilvo:
The highest quality of services. An intelligent routing system and 99.95% according to SLA are impressive factors to confirm this.
Global coverage, which implies more than fifty countries and about 8 thousand area codes.
24/7 support. However, the highest level of support will be provided only to premium users.
The affordable price of Ownership. The company allows you to pay only for actually used services and promises a lot of discounts when scaling your project.
Reliable protection including two-factor authentication.
If you want to implement VoIP tools in your application, we're ready to help. Our mobile development experts know how to turn aside any difficulty and achieve the result you need.