15 June, 2021

How to build an Android Chat App using a Chat API – Step by Step Guide

Are you planning to build your messaging chat app? Getting amazed with its thought!

But still wondering to proceed further!

Chill! This blog is your blueprint – I will walk you through an end-to-end technical part of building your Android messaging chat application alongside building your confidence as well.

Before diving deep into the core, let’s have some insight about the needs of messaging chat apps in the businesses.

Need to Build a Chat Application : The Facts!

According to Facebook, WhatsApp is the leading messaging app, followed by around 1.3 billion users, and WeChat with over 1.2 billion users. Moreover, with this almost 80% of people use these messaging apps in their regular life. But, the fact is the modern businesses can not make use of these social media platforms for their business mainly due to security issues.

growth of chat platform in world level

Wholly, these criteria simply prove the need for chat APIs solutions in businesses. Moreover, the reliability, scalability, and security factors of these instant messaging applications have made businesses look upon them when it comes to the growth of a business by connecting in real time with customers.

These real time chat applications are recognized mostly for their unique and everlasting features

Utmost Basic Features in an Instant Chat App, You Must Know!

You can find several real time chat apps in the market with numerous features specifying their uniqueness. But still, there are some ground-level features that are common for all.

must have feature of messaging app

Here, Let’s have a look at some of these grounded features

  • One-to-One Private chat : Allows the user to get connected to another particular user in no time.
  •  

  • Group Chat : Permits to create private or public groups to have real time conversations with an unlimited number of people.
  •  

  • Video calling & Conferencing : Enables you to make peer-to-peer HD video calling on any platform. Also allows you to have a group or conference video calling with up to more than 5 users with a crystal clear quality.
  •  

  • Voice Calling : Allows you to make calls instantly and get connected to people across the world. Even with conference calling you can experience fine tuned quality while connecting with multiple users.
  •  

  • Video Call Recording : Enables to record every call, also compose the video to your likings with edits and store the recording effortlessly in cloud.
  •  

  • File Transfer : Enables to share multiple files of any type to any user privately or publicly.
  •  

  • Tabbed Messages : It allows you to alter any number of chats and combine multiple messages into a single window.
  •  

  • Animated GIFs : It makes the communication more interactive with just-a-click option of animated GIFs to turn the chat more engaging.
  •  

  • Real time Language Translation : You can have your conversations translated into any language within the chat screen.
  •  

  • Cross-platform Calling : Helps in making direct high-quality voice calls to a desktop, any platform or mobile app anytime, anywhere.

However, these are some but there are more to dig deep into when it comes to real time communication applications. But I think it’s not enough, it’s better to have some idea about its benefits over certainly picked enterprises too.

What are the Benefits of Chat Application Over Variety of Industries

The utilization of these chat applications is not restricted to some of the industries as they have spread their wings wider across. 

Let’s have a look at some of these industries

1. E-Commerce & Marketplace – This industry makes use of video conferencing applications and has a live chat with customers. With a live chat facility, it communicates with the customers to place the order and have a track of delivering the order. And with video conferencing, it avoids the inconvenience of long emails and waiting time from both ends. Moreover, resolve the issues in the first place itself

2. Banking and Finance – This industry also makes use of both chat as well as video conferencing applications. In the banking sector, the employees use this chat app to communicate and share confidential files with other employees. In the same way in the finance industry, with the help of live chat, they interact and have a track of the current stock market. They also interact with their investors via video conferencing with regard to financial history and current market revenues. The drop-off in the shares and other related areas can be viewed and discussed instantly

3. Digital Healthcare & Hospitals – In the healthcare industry, with live chat apps, the patient can communicate with the doctor and set an appointment, share medical diagnosis reports, etc. and in the further run can make use of this video application to perform operations by interacting with the other surgeons present at the other end of the world and save patients lives

4. Online Education Industry – The online education industry is all about live video conferencing where the student can communicate with the teacher and have a regular learning lesson. With the chat app, the students can share and submit their documents/papers with the teacher and have them corrected.

Now, when you have got a clear idea about its necessity in a variety of fields. You must be thinking as to whether you can build an app or go for some ready-made one.

Well, that’s a cool thought to think about, let’s have a check over!

Choice is Yours : Readymade vs Custom Chat App

If someone asks you, what to choose: a ready-made or custom solution? What could be your response? Of course, the first thing that strikes your mind would be what is special about each of them. Exactly! That’s what I am going to tell you now but in brief.

Ready-made solutions can also be indirectly considered as a White label Chat application as it is one of the basic features found in them. as the name suggests, they are the solutions that are available as an in-built one that you can purchase and integrate into your existing application.

The main drawback of these ready-made solutions is that you can only avail the benefits of the features that already exist. But, since it is available with the restriction it won’t provide you with the facility to add extra features in future. But, it does allow your solution to be hosted on our cloud as well as on your premises or cloud as per your business needs

Whereas in the case of custom solutions, there is a need to build one from scratch. It involves the following steps

Build Custom Solution Steps
  • Check for a platform – have a clear idea as what is your targeted platform Android or iOS?
  • Mission of your app – What and whom does your app target ? This is so as to have an idea about the features that need to be included in the application.
  • MVP (minimum viable product) – It talks about the need as how the MVP look like including the features.
  • Duration to develop an application – Before starting must be clear with the idea of finding a specialized developer – in-house or remotely. Of course, with a set of supporting teams to set the duration to build an application

The overall highlight of these custom chat apps is that in the future you can add any number of features as per your business requirements with no restrictions. As an outcome of the above, both sound to be great in their own means, but finally it’s all about your needs.

Let’s have a look at what are the things being needed when building your own real-time chat app with CONTUS MirrorFly – “One of the market’s leading in-app Chat APIs & SDKs provider”.

Time to Build an Instant Chat App for Android with CONTUS MirrorFly

Well, when it comes to building a messaging chat, voice, and video solution, every chat app provider follows their own protocols. Moreoless, all of them would be checking out to give out something best.

This section is all about the involvement of CONTUS MirrorFly when it comes to building chat applications for Android, iOS and web apps.

But here, I am going to give you an understanding of creating a chat app for Android platform. The exciting part is that this solution can be integrated easily into your application. Moreover, when it comes to the client-side, you can have them initialized as well as configured as per your need with minimal effort.

build chat for android app

On the other hand with regards to server-side, CONTUS MirrorFly focuses mainly on the reliability within the application.  It allows the space for all server setup-related documents to be downloaded from the control panels’ download section.

This later with initialization page gives the Chat SDK’s structure and installation procedure. Once everything is done, it moves across the preliminary steps of implementing the Chat SDK in your own project.

Requirements

Let’s have a look at some of the minimal requirements for Chat SDK for Android
1) Android Lollipop 5.0 (API Level 21) or above
2) Java 7 or higher
3) Gradle 4.1.0 or higher

SDK License Key

As an initial process, it is essential to see that the SDK is authenticated by CONTUS MirrorFly server using License Key. In this, you can make use of the master License Key in your dashboard while generating an account. 
But, one thing that needs to be noticed is that the master API token can not be revoked or changed later.

Installation

To begin with, you need to check whether the SDK has already been compiled into an AAR file or not? This is so as to use the SDK, the below AAR file has to be imported into the project. However, the support of kotlin is needed for the chat SDK in the project to move ahead.

Step 1 : First have to download the latest SDK from CONTUS MirrorFly Control Panel Download’s section.
Step 2 : Extract the files from downloaded zip file.
Step 3 : Create a new Android project.

Step 4 : Add the file libraries in app/libs folder in the project,


appbase.aar
flycommons.aar
flynetwork.aar
flydatabase.aar
compression.aar
xmpp.aar

Step 5 : Add the following dependencies in app/build.gradle file

implementation files('libs/appbase.aar')
implementation files('libs/flycommons.aar')
implementation files('libs/flynetwork.aar')
implementation files('libs/flydatabase.aar')
implementation files('libs/compression.aar')
implementation files('libs/xmpp.aar')

Step 6 : Add the below required dependencies by the SDK in app/build.gradle

//For lifecycle listener
implementation 'android.arch.lifecycle:extensions:1.1.1'
annotationProcessor 'android.arch.lifecycle:compiler:1.1.1'

//For GreenDao
implementation 'de.greenrobot:greendao:2.1.0'

//For gson parsing
implementation 'com.google.code.gson:gson:2.8.1'

//for smack implementation
implementation 'org.igniterealtime.smack:smack-android:4.2.4'
implementation 'org.igniterealtime.smack:smack-tcp:4.2.4'
implementation 'org.igniterealtime.smack:smack-im:4.2.4'
implementation 'org.igniterealtime.smack:smack-extensions:4.2.4'
implementation 'org.igniterealtime.smack:smack-sasl-provided:4.2.4'

implementation 'androidx.localbroadcastmanager:localbroadcastmanager:1.0.0'
implementation 'androidx.multidex:multidex:2.0.1'
implementation 'com.google.android.gms:play-services-location:17.0.0'

implementation 'com.facebook.stetho:stetho:1.3.1'
implementation 'com.hypertrack:hyperlog:0.0.10'

//for mobile number formatting
implementation 'io.michaelrocks:libphonenumber-android:8.9.14'

//Dagger Dependencies
api 'com.google.dagger:dagger:2.25.2'
kapt 'com.google.dagger:dagger-compiler:2.25.2'
api 'com.google.dagger:dagger-android:2.25.2'
api 'com.google.dagger:dagger-android-support:2.25.2'
kapt 'com.google.dagger:dagger-android-processor:2.25.2'

//coroutines
implementation 'org.jetbrains.kotlinx:kotlinx-coroutines-android:1.3.3'
implementation 'org.jetbrains.kotlinx:kotlinx-coroutines-test:1.3.3'

//apicalls
implementation 'com.squareup.retrofit2:retrofit:2.6.1'
implementation 'com.squareup.retrofit2:converter-gson:2.6.1'
implementation 'com.squareup.okhttp3:okhttp:4.2.0'
implementation 'com.jakewharton.retrofit:retrofit2-kotlin-coroutines-adapter:0.9.2'

//stetho interceptor
implementation 'com.facebook.stetho:stetho-okhttp3:1.3.1'

//okhttp interceptor
implementation 'com.squareup.okhttp3:logging-interceptor:3.14.3'

Step 7 : Add the below code in the app-level build.gradle

plugins {
    ...
    id 'kotlin-android'
    id 'kotlin-kapt'
}

android {
    compileOptions {
        sourceCompatibility JavaVersion.VERSION_1_8
        targetCompatibility JavaVersion.VERSION_1_8
    }

    kotlinOptions {
        jvmTarget = '1.8'
    }

    packagingOptions {
        exclude 'META-INF/AL2.0'
        exclude 'META-INF/DEPENDENCIES'
        exclude 'META-INF/LICENSE'
        exclude 'META-INF/LICENSE.txt'
        exclude 'META-INF/license.txt'
        exclude 'META-INF/NOTICE'
        exclude 'META-INF/NOTICE.txt'
        exclude 'META-INF/notice.txt'
        exclude 'META-INF/ASL2.0'
        exclude 'META-INF/LGPL2.1'
        exclude("META-INF/*.kotlin_module")
    }

}

Step 8 : Open the AndroidManifest.xml and add below permissions

<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.INTERNET" />
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.RECORD_AUDIO" />
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.DISABLE_KEYGUARD" />
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.ACCESS_NETWORK_STATE" />
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.CAMERA" />
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.READ_PHONE_STATE" />
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.WAKE_LOCK" />

These are the technical steps that are required to have the best chat app.

Conclusion

Well, this article would have given you deep clarity over the technical terms when it comes to building your own chat application for Android.

But, let me tell you that CONTUS MirrorFly provides this fantastic application for iOS and web apps as well.

Thus, if in case you are interested to know further about creating a chat app with iOS or web application, then I am happy to say that I am on my way to get you the related technical blog very soon for them as well.

Parthiba is a Product Marketer, helping providers of the various industries like healthcare, education, etc., to elevate their conversation value with the help of powerful communication solutions to drive better communication experience.

19 Comments

  1. john Reply

    we are building a mobile app and need messaging and video chat with patients. Looking for third party providers to integrate into our product. Can you please call me or send details on the priciing?

  2. Sandipan Reply

    We are a product based company.We are having a website build in php(laravel) platform. question 1: So, is your application can be embedded into our website? question 2: can we manage(view, edit ) chats from our end admin panel?

  3. patsanan Reply

    My business is Telehealth for physical therapy treatment . I want to use features such as peer-peer video conference, can video call on website (support in android + iOS) without installing an app

  4. Nicholas Reply

    Hello, currently we are developing our own internal chat app in andorid that specifically cater for health industry. We have experienced doing a full customization chat app on Pubnub (HIPPA compliance) and also Qiscus under React Native for few of our clients. We would like to ask few questions: 1. is this solution similar to Pubnub? 2. how does it compare? the SDK offered all the features that you mentioned on the website? 3. is this HIPPA Compliance solution? 4. it can be installed on-premise? 5. what’s the pricing package? 6. what’s the technology being used in mirrorfly? thanks!

  5. Faisal Reply

    Hi, I am Shayan from Faisal’s team. We are working in Virtual Recruitment Technologies Ltd based in the United Kingdom. We want demo of your chat application. Can you please connect with me on skype tomorrow morning ASAP

  6. Jamie Reply

    Hello. I’d be interested in using your video call API in the mobile and web apps of my startup company. What will your pricing be as to permit me to have 1 on 1 HD Video calls (with voice) between users? Can users annotate/draw on the video stream? Thanks for your help, Jamie

  7. Urrutia Reply

    I want to enable group chat , personal chat 1-1 video calling in my android app, only that, can you provide pricing? I have about 1k concurrent users a day. looking for whitleable chat api with customized solution and one-time payment option also .thanks alot

  8. Eaton Reply

    The business would need a serious amount of features. To start, how much would it cost to create an android chat app with all the features of WhatsApp plus Touch ID and video chat/conference calls.

  9. Vlad Suciu Reply

    Hi, Currently thinking to build a mobile app that will have the ability to make audio/video calls, can you provide me a list of prices? Interested in cost per minute per session for 1 to 1 audio/video call. Kind regards

  10. Thilanka Reply

    We are developing a Social media site for one of our client. They need to integrate Audio , video and messaging to their platform using an API. they will use web app, android & iOS app. what is the most cost effective pricing model for the requirement?

  11. Mohamed Reply

    Hello, I am looking for a solution for our realtime chat app which we have used Firebase as a backend. But this has limitations and I stumbled upon MirrorFly. Do you have an real time Chat SDKfor Untity3D / .NET 4 + Also, I couldn’t find any pricing or how the purchase works. Please reply back to me with some more info. Thanks, Arif

  12. chun Reply

    I need Chat API for the gaming app, Our company was established in March of this year as a development subsidiary of Commseed Inc. in Japan, and we are developing social games with the goal of launching in the first half of 2022. The service area will be 1st Japan and 2nd Global. At the beginning of the service, it will be anticipated that a large amount of MAU, due to large marketing. However, it is currently targeting 80,000 DAUs and 300,000 MAUs. As well as the actual solution will be examined after June. I am looking forward to your reply. Yours Sincerely.

    1. Masi Reply

      Hi Chun, My deep heartily congratulations on your newly established company. As we deal with all-in-one real-time communication API – voice, video and chat, we can get you the ever best gaming application. Our communication API solution is with end-to-end customization where you can have several features as per your business needs and in future once purchased if you ever wanted to upgrade it, you can easily. To have detailed knowledge about the entire solution feel free to contact us. Thank you!

  13. Kim Reply

    Hi there – I have a few questions about your Chat SDK and would like to set up a call to discuss your solution in more detail. Let me know when your team is available.

    1. Masi Reply

      Hello Kim, I am glad that you are interested in our chat SDK solution. Sure will have a discussion. Kindly, drop your details in our contact page, our representatives will contact you to set an appointment soon. Happy to hear from you. Thank you!

  14. Benjamin Reply

    I have two groups of users. Lets say its Students and Professors. I need the chat app to only allow Professors to start the chats, while students cannot initiate them, but can reply. Also the Professors should have lists available for each of the students related to the specific classes. They shouldn’t be able to send messages to students that don’t belong to any of their classes. Is this something that can be achieved?

    1. Masi Reply

      Hello Benjamin, Your thoughts are really appreciable. About our mirrorfly chat solution, it is very much flexible and our dedicated team of professional developers can help you with better exposure on your needs. I appreciate it if you can contact us and have your details to proceed further with the discussion. Thank you!

  15. Willem Reply

    we are looking for an economic solution to integrate in our system audio/video/chat api. Communication with Android from IOS & Android We are thinking to use Webrtc or jitsi but we want to know about Mirrorfly conditions. Please share your conditions.

    1. Masi Reply

      Hi Willem, thanks for showing interest in our video call solution. As you explained about your need, our solution does move along with any application of course that includes iOS, Android and web app. To have better clarity about our solution, I think it’s better to have a discussion with our team. Thus, feel free to drop your details so that we can set an appointment and share the conditions of our solution in detail. Thank you!

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