The VideoLAN Client Player or the VLC player is an irreplaceable app for Windows PC and Mac users. It is becoming popular among Android, iOS, and iPadOS users as well as the VL provides the best in class video and audio playback, streaming, and casting features.
The minimalist design of the VLC, allows it to be easily integrated with any platform, support any new codecs, and lets you play all video and audio formats. The most striking and enabling feature of the VLC is its capability to play the downloaded videos from YouTube, DailyMotion, Twitch, and short video stories from Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. This has only added to the popularity of the VLC player. Users download their favorite clips to play over again for their family and friends and enjoy them together.
The support for many video and audio compression methods and the capability to convert between file formats, read directly from DVDs, VCDs, and streaming protocols makes it a player of choice. Using a VideoLAN server and the VLC media player, you can establish a local streaming service to stream media over local computer networks of your organization for education, training, and entertainment purposes too.
What is a VLC Player Like App?
Developing a mobile app or desktop application that mimics the VLC player’s capabilities is a challenge worth taking. With the streaming, media conversion, and compression capabilities, and support for all audio and video formats, an app like the VLC media player will be a gamechanger.
As the VLC media player is an open-source, cross-platform and portable, media player software that supports the streaming of media from a central server. The VideoLAN server and the VideoLAN client were developed under the VideoLAN project. Being open-source, VLC allows, with a little tweaking, streaming support from any platform and on any network – WiFi, Mobile, LAN, or Fiber optic.
The distribution of an app like the VLC player must include free encoding and decoding libraries and must spare the users to search, install, and calibrate proprietary plugins for supporting codecs. An app with the capabilities like the VLC can use the libavcodec library from the FFmpeg in addition to VLC’s open-source library of muxers and demuxers.
Your VLC-like app needs to support streaming so it must have its protocol implementations for network control and user management. The multimedia server can be established for limited use within the organization, on its on-premises or cloud servers to provide a centralized streaming server.
Reasons that make VLC Player like Application Popular
The VLC player is the most very popular cross-platform media player application across desktops and mobile users. It is increasingly gaining popularity in the streaming domain, as it was a pioneer in setting up the streaming project long before today’s popular streaming platforms like Twitch, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or DailyMotion came into existence.
Many features make the VLC player a popular application, and any app that can imitate the same features with integrated support and a dedicated content creation and marketing team can gain popularity soon.
The most important ten reasons why an app like VLC player is bound to be popular are:
- VLC plays Files, Discs, Webcams, Devices, and Streams.
- Cross-platform support on Windows, Linux, iOS, Mac OS, Android, and other mobile operating systems. Users will get the same interface and across any device and OS, therefore eliminating the need to learn a new player each time you switch devices.
- Hardware support for DVD players, VCD players, Music CDs, Blu-Ray disks, and networked streaming servers.
- No Spyware, no user tracking, and ensuring complete privacy of users is prime motto.
- Fast playback, conversion, and streaming services with the use of hardware decoding on most platforms. It uses the GPU, if available, and automatically uses the software decoding when not.
- Supports all formats for video, audio, and subtitles in multiple languages. A single video can have multiple embedded audio tracks and subtitles in different languages that can be played.
- Synchronization of audio and subtitles with the video with advanced interlacing and de-interlacing support.
- Advanced controls with easy playback, audio & video filters, playlist management, and visualizations.
- Support for advanced input formats for unicast, multicast, broadcast, streaming, cable TV, and Satellite Digital TV reception.
- Support for browser plugins, embedded media player, ActiveX plugins, and CPU acceleration.
Why creating a VLC player like app is a beneficial idea?
- We have listed only the ten most important factors that make the VLC player a superhit and popular app among desktop users with Windows desktop, Linux, or Mac operating systems, or mobile users with iOS or Android phones/tablets.
- Any app that mimics these many features and added control over the streaming server, in-video ads, and customizations will easily soar the popularity charts in no time.
- The lockdowns and stay-at-home policies adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic scare have made people aware of the many benefits of the VLC player app and brought them closer to adopting something similar that gives more. So, if you decide to develop an app like VLC player, then our technical team has all the expertise and technical wherewithal to undertake this project.
- With a VLC player like app, you can provide your retail consumers as well as corporate clients a platform for streaming, entertainment, education, training and can control the overall experience by making the app as customized as you want.
- An app with the brand of your organization or company can add another tool to your toolbox of software services and products that you can offer to your customers. The application will have a backend media server like the VideoLAN server to support streaming.
- The video server can be integrated with your virtual classroom app so that a load of video-tutorials and audio-books can be taken off from that server. This feature can be used by schools, colleges, training institutes, coaching classes, and large corporates with a multitude of training programs going on.
- If you are a media company or a news organization then also the development of the application on the lines of VLC player is a great value proposition for you. You must focus all your energies on the ideation, programming, creation, production, and presentation of the content and leave the task of content streaming, management, and playback to the VLC player like app’s server and client. You can allow or disallow your users to download the media files so that they can share them with friends and family.
Business and Monetization Models
The VLC player is the result of an open-source project that distributes the binaries at a zero-cost license to its end-users. The VideoLAN server is also available in open-source mode to any user who can integrate the server on their own. The support for the server is minimal.
However, you can build a great business around an app like VLC player and earn handsome profits from it. Some of the other apps that have, over the years, mimicked the VLC media player have used the following business models to monetize their services and not only recovered costs but also made a moolah in providing great services.
User Subscriptions and Advertising
The basic business model revolves around the subscriptions and in-video advertising facilities available in the player. Both these models work if you can arrange or curate original, engaging, and entertaining content from multiple producers or yourself. This model works best if you are a media house, news programming agency, or an enthusiastic content producer and curator.
You can also make the videos and audio available for a one-time, limited-period, viewership by end-users on a pay-per-view model. In this model, you do not need to have the content available on your servers or need to have a license or ownership on it. You must tie-up with existing platforms, content license holders, and organizations with a great media library and showcase their content in your app’s media library. Once the user “purchases” the content, she will make the payment and the content will be downloaded to the secured storage on her device in an encrypted format. Encryption and security are necessary to discourage the unauthorized transfer and plagiarism of IP protected content.
The media player are the apps that have grabbed the attention of most users the most during the stay-at-home periods. Online games are limited to a subset of loyal gamers and social media has not much to offer anymore. With a user binge-watching a thrilling web-series or consuming the latest pop video of their favorite artists, they can be provided the option to buy the same designer clothes, watches, or shoes the artistes are wearing. They can be given the option to book the tickets for a destination or get a reservation to the same restaurants from within the media player.
It is more likely for users to make an impulse purchase when they are in the video as the impression of what they just saw is most prolific on their psyches and will fade as time passes. If you are a marketer and can collaborate with content producers for in-video promotions and marketing, it can open the floodgates of revenue and profits for you.
As discussed earlier, we can integrate the video server with your organization’s existing virtual classroom, HR, or ERP servers. Once the servers are all integrated, the heavy load of video lectures, video-tutorials and audio-books will be managed by the VLC app-like server and no longer by your web server. Content generation for video-lectures, demonstrations, and tutorials can be done with the help of experts and advanced tools. the VLC like player can convert the recorder video in multiple formats to support different resolutions on multiple devices. You can embed audio track in multiple languages to help learners from different regions and provide subtitle support. This feature can be leveraged by schools, colleges, universities, training centers, coaching classes, and HR departments of corporates with large, ongoing, and extensive training programs.
Must-have Features in VLC Media Player Application
Any VLC media player like a mobile app or desktop application must have some non-negotiable features. These features make the VLC player among the most downloaded third-party media player app in the world for Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, and Linux.
The VLC player has been around for more than two decades and has been the preferred choice of the users once they get the hang of it. It has been consistently rated among the top media players in the world by independent reviewers, customer surveys, and by the verified downloads data from the official VLC website, Android Play Store, Apple App Store, and Microsoft Windows Store.
The following list of must-have features is not exhaustive but is comprehensive enough to give a glimpse of the galaxy of services and functionalities that a small media player like the VLC can pack. Your VLC player like app must have these and many more features for you to make it an instant hit and start earning revenues from it.
Playback & Playlist Support
The most basic feature for any media player is a simple interface for media playback and playlist management. There must be simple context menus, pop-up menus, and easy to use controls for playback, stop, pause, record, fast-forward, or fast-rewind, play next/previous media in the list, bookmark, etc.
Organize media files
The media player must be able to organize your media files based on type, genre, artistes, length, ratings, and albums. It must allow moving the files around on the computer from within the player so that the user does not have to go to the desktop manager repeatedly.
Convert movies and music
Just like VLC player, your media player app must provide conversion of media from one format to another, effortlessly and with default best settings. For advanced users, there must be an interface to allow them carious aspects of conversion like bit rate, shutter speed, interlacing, etc.
Access cloud storage
The media player must be able to connect to the user’s personal or enterprise cloud storage to download, stream, and play media.
Visualizations & Skins
For better appeal and aesthetics and to give each user a personalized experience, the VLC player like media player app must support different skins, visualizations, and themes.
The media library for a user includes their offline, online, and cloud storage media. It shows their playlists, watchlist, and new releases. The media are shown in categories like genre, topics, language, subtitles, etc.
Support for subtitles in all formats, fonts, and all languages are a concern for any media player. Increasing consumption of content from different countries and cultures necessitates subtitle support. The VLC player like media player must provide subtitle synchronization, live search, and download from a pre-defined set of subtitle providers.
Usually, the media players have a large memory footprint and consume too much CPU and battery. VLC player stands out as it is economical on all three fronts and yet delivers the best quality.
Advanced Features of VLC / MX Player Like App
In addition to the must-have basic and UI features, some behind-the-scenes and advanced features make the VLC media player a great app for desktops and mobile users alike. These advanced features make a player different from others as they contribute to the range of simple features, player’s efficiency, and range of operations.
A VLC player like media player must support third-party plugins for supporting codecs, and formats that are new, rare, and currently not supported. Plugins can also provide added visualizations, skins, icons, and themes for users to customize the player.
Support for ISO
A VLC player like a media player must support directly reading from ISO images and directly burning them onto a DVD or VCD. The media player can also create ISO files from existing folders on disk drives to allow “mounting” them as virtual optical disks. This feature will allow the player to play the media even if the OS does not support the ISO format.
AR, VR, and 360-degree Video Support
Many modern camera and video editing tools support shooting videos for Augmented reality AR, Virtual reality (VR) or in 360-degree mode. These videos are interlaced and stitched in such a manner that a regular media player cannot play them. Support for AR, VR, and 360-videos can make your player very popular in a very short time.
Like the VLC player, your media player app must have a modular design to make it easier to add, remove and update modules, plugins, and support for new file formats, codecs, interfaces, or streaming methods, input file format, video card capabilities, video, and audio outputs, controls, scalers, and audio/video filters.
Support for Incomplete Videos
As a packet-based media player, VLC can play almost all video content, even if some of it is damaged, incomplete, or incomplete (like those still downloading). A VLC player like application must be designed on the same principles to allow the users to take a sneak peek into every video, complete or not.
Support for All Formats
VLC player has support for all audio and video formats, and any app claiming to be its worthy competitor must support them as well. The support can be from open libraries, libavcodec, and libavformat, or third-party FFmpeg libraries. Also, the modular design allows the player to automatically find, download, and install the needed codecs not currently supported if a new format is encountered.
Some input formats include:
- Container formats like 3GP, ASF, AVI, FLV, MIDI, QuickTime, etc.;
- Audio coding formats like AAC, AC3, FLAC, MOD, Monkey’s Audio, MP3, RealAudio, WMA, etc.;
- Capture devices like Video4Linux, DirectShow, Desktop screencast, Digital TV devices, etc.;
- Network protocols like FTP, HTTP, RSS/Atom, RTMP, UDP, Smooth Streaming, etc.;
- Network streaming formats like Apple HLS, Flash RTMP, MPEG-DASH, MPEG Transport Stream, Windows Media MMS;
- Subtitles formats like Advanced SubStation Alpha, Closed Captions (CC), DVD-Video, MPEG-4 Timed Text, SubRip, Teletext, TTML;
- Video coding formats like Cinepak, H.263, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, AV1, MPEG-4 Part 2, RealVideo 3 & 4;
- Digital camcorder formats like MOD and TOD via USB.
Similarly, the support for output formats will include:
- Container formats like AVI, FLAC, FLV, MP4, MPJPEG, MPEG-2, Ogg, PS, PVA, QuickTime File Format;
- Audio coding formats like AAC, AC-3, DV Audio, FLAC, MP3, Speex, Vorbis;
- Streaming protocols like HTTP, MMS, RTSP, RTP, UDP;
- Video coding formats like Dirac, H.263, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, MPEG-4 Part 2, Theora;
A VLC media player like app must have cross-platform compatibility and support. The app must be useable on all in-use versions of popular operating systems – Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android, Chrome OS, BeOS, iPadOS, tvOS, OS/2, Linux, and Syllable.
Modular design and streaming support require the integration of multiple APIs that provide or access services from/to the media player app. These APIs are from the media player app or from third-parties to enable ads, payments, cloud access, authentication, codecs, modules, and many more features. APIs provide language-independent access to core and advanced services to media player app and can be developed in any language including C/C++, Objective C, .NET, ActiveX, Go, Python, Java, and Pascal.
Even if a user may not be able to download and install the medial player, with an embedded player and browser plugin, he can still play your media on any platform or form any streaming service. With a plugin fOn Windows, Linux, macOS, and some other Unix-like platforms, VLC provide an NPAPI plugin, or popular browsers – Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge, and Safari – on all operating systems and devices, one can play QuickTime, Windows Media, MP3, and Ogg files embedded in websites.
Blueprint to design a media player app like VLC: A step by step guide
- A video streaming platform can be integrated into a VLC player like app and provide a great launch. An established and running platform can provide invaluable benefits and save time in taking the media player app to the market. The monetization models also support the financial viability of an integrated video platform with a media player app with subscription facilities, options for ad-revenues, and enhancing brand recognition
- In media clouds and live video streaming, high-definition and heavy media files are compressed, divided into packets or chunks, and sequentially transmitted over a secure connection to client software. The player on the client-side can regroup and decompress the media files and play them. The complete process has to finish in milliseconds, to provide the users the “Live” experience.
- The packet size is determined by network bandwidth. Once the client software has accumulated sufficient numbers of packets in its buffer, the player starts the playback sequentially. In the background, it continues to receive and unpack the data.
- The buffer allows smooth and continuous playback of the video without a lag in the video and audio output. In addition to the usual technology stack for building a secure and reliable desktop application, and mobile app for all platforms, there is an additional challenge for a live streaming or media server website.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Media Player and Video Streaming
Step 1: Define Access
Define who will have permission to start video streaming:
- Only you
- All registered users for free;
- All registered users for the subscription fee.
Step 2: Decide Functionality
Satisfy the users’ needs as much as possible, else, users are unlikely to become your source of income.
- Provide live chat feature
- Provide facility to streamers to open their video channel
- Provide security and proper paywall for proper subscription
- Allow customization of video content
Step 3: Don’t reinvent the wheel!
Use licensed third-party APIs to broadcast videos on different devices and in different file formats. These secure APIs provide reliable, efficient, and fast conversions for you and keep you updated. Upgrading the player, scaling of websites with increased traffic and data is also much easier with these integrations.
Step 4: Scalable design
As you dream of growing your user base and number of channels substantially with your unique business model, use a server that can easily handle scaling issues in a short period.
Step 5: Hosting
Reliable and secure hosting is always difficult to find. Your hosting provider must have enough bandwidth to allow hundreds of gigabytes of data being transferred daily, once your website is popular. It must also allow a large number of simultaneous connections and efficient storage for multiple user access.
Step 6: UI/UX Design
Design your signature style – with modular support for skins, themes, and visualizations – that is unique and modern! Templates may save you time and money, but your website will look like a run-of-the-mill design or a copycat.
Step 7: Video Archives
Large and efficient archival storage for streams for 15 to 180 days may be offered. Depending on the quality, size, and duration of the archive, its storage requirements will change. Archives must allow secure, reliable, and efficient storage, search, and retrieval processes for the video content.
The technology stack that is to be used
The media player app will be a native app development to allow it to use hardware acceleration, wherever possible. The web-server for streaming and content archives there are different options for video processing platform, and developing a live streaming app. The following are the most widely used and in-demand technologies and tools for building VLC player like applications:
- Programming languages for mobile app: Swift for iOS, Kotlin/Java for Android.
- Programming languages for desktop applications: .NET or Java for all platforms, Objective-C for Mac.
- Data management systems: Atlas-DB, Cassandra, MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL.
- Cloud platforms: Amazon EC2, Amazon S3.
- Analytics and insights: Google Mobile App Analytics, Flurry Analytics, Hadoop, Hive, MixPanel, Localytics, Mode, Parquet, Pig, Presto, Spark.
- CDN services: Amazon CloudFront, Cloudflare, Fastly, Open Connect
- Streaming protocols: RTMP, Adobe HTTP Dynamic Streaming, Apple HTTP Live Streaming, M2TS, MPEG-DASH, Microsoft Smooth Streaming, WebRTC, RTSP/RTP.
- Media formats: MKV, MP4, AVCHD, AVI, DMW, MOV, FLV, WMV, SWF.
- Codecs: H.264/AVC, FFmpeg, XviD.
- Media containers: MP4, FLV.
- Geolocation: Google Maps API, MapKit/Core Location frameworks (for iOS).
- Messaging: Firebase, SendBird, PubNub, Twilio.
Required Team Structure for VLC / MX Player App
The team structure for a multi-platform file sharing versatile app will comprise developers, designers, and testers from different backgrounds. If you plan to develop an app like VLC, your development team must comprise of:
- Project Manager
- UI/UX designers
- Back-end developers
- Front-end developers
- Net/Java/iOS/Adnroid developers
- Quality Analyst and Testers
The respective numbers of developers and designers will depend on the number of features needed and the app delivery schedule.
What is the Development Cost for VLC like App?
The development of a quick file sharing and management app with an embedded media player like VLC, takes a few weeks if you only need customization to an already built functional prototype. For a completely new build from scratch, the time needed may increase up to a few months.
Our design and development process is:
- Requirements Gathering: The brainstorming session starts immediately after you come on board with us. Our analysts collaborate closely with you to understand your business model and requirements.
- UI/UX Design: Our frontend design team prepares many design options for you to select from. They strive to present a user-friendly UI and an easily accessible and intuitive UX.
- Back-end Development: Our cloud and server administrators collaborate with developers to build a secure and robust backend. The cloud architecture allows your app to scale, ensure enough storage, and develop all needed web services for the app to function.
- MVP (Prototype): The Minimum Viable Prototype is made from scratch to be evaluated by you. It shows how the app will look and behave once fully developed and deployed. As it is a prototype, any changes at this stage are accepted and finalized within the project scope.
- Development: The app is developed for both the Android and iOS platforms, and if required, a Windows and Mac application is also developed. It is always guaranteed by the project manager that all versions of the app have the same interface and same features.
- Quality Assurance: The modules are tested for quality as they start taking shape, individually and then in conjunction with other modules. Once the development is complete, the app undergoes a series of stringent automated and manual tests. These include Security checks, speed tests, data integrity tests, and many more.
- Deployment: The cloud-based backend and the apps are hosted and made live for downloads. For mobile phones, the respective apps are also hosted on the Play Store and the App Store. Our team completes the process of app approval and listing on the stores.
- Support & Maintenance: During the lifetime of the app, there will be a continuous need for the support and maintenance of the app. It also includes security patches, feature updates, and upgrades to the app.
The extensive process ensures that the app we deliver is the best and you become successful in your business. The app development costs depend on various factors like UI/UX design, app complexity, platform support, feature integration, and the number of skilled manpower involved.
Therefore, making a final estimating of the actual app development costs is next to impossible. But, as an experienced player in the market for many years, we can always make educated guesses.
The costs also depend on the location of the team, as different economies have different standard hourly rates for developers:
- North America: USD 110 to USD 250
- Western Europe: USD 100 to USD 175
- Eastern Europe: USD 50 to USD 100 Australia: USD 70 to USD 150
- India: USD 25 to USD 70
The difference in rate does not mean that developers in India are any less skilled than any other location. It is just because of the exchange rates the development team located in India, like Arka Softwares are, can give you substantial cost savings.
Considering all these factors, here is a ballpark cost estimate to design an app like VLC Player:
|iOS app||USD 35,000 to USD 55,000|
|Android app||USD 30,000 to USD 50,000|
|Platform-independent Desktop Application||USD 15,000 to USD 25,000|
|Backend Development||USD 35,000 to USD 50,000|
|Frontend Development||USD 30,000 to USD 40,000|
|Total Estimated Cost||USD 1,45,000 to USD 2,20,000|
Development of any app must be done with the following goals in mind:
- There is a genuine problem faced by users;
- A technological solution to that problem is possible; and
- There are business sense and potential for profits apparent.
Remember, just like for you, your end users are the most important factor similarly, for us at Arka Softwares, your needs and requirements are paramount. By benchmarking your app against industry leaders VLC Media Player, you have already raised the bar remarkably high. Your app requirements become more complex as you keep on adding services and features to it. To develop such an innovative app, you need to rely on the services of a team of passionate developers and designers.
Why Choose Arka Softwares for your App Development?
- Planned approach: We start collaborating with your team to understand your full requirement and garner business associates.
- Result-Driven Approach: With our long history of collaboration with several businesses, our extensive knowledge of the industry can help us get better results every time.
- Seasoned Team: Our team includes analysts, designers, developers, testers, and project managers.
- Time-Efficient, Budget-Friendly: On-time delivery of the app means there are no budget overruns. There are no hidden charges and additional costs involved.
- 24×7 Support: Our clients are our primary responsibility, and with a large client base spread across the world, we are always available on call.
Rahul Mathur is the founder and managing director of ARKA Softwares, a company renowned for its outstanding mobile app development and web development solutions as well as specialized in Android and iOS app development. Delivering high-end modern solutions to all over the globe, Rahul takes pleasure in sharing his experiences and views on the latest technological trends.