Messaging apps have become an integral part of our lives. Instead of reaching out on a call in the odd hours, dropping a single WhatsApp text is enough. Agreed or not? Yes, and that’s the reason for WhatsApp’s great popularity worldwide.
In 2020, WhatsApp had 2 billion active users worldwide and generated a revenue of $5.5 billion. This growth has increased year by year. Today the app ranks third worldwide in the list of most used social media sites. Facebook and YouTube rank above it.
With the growing demand and importance of messaging apps, many businesses have started launching their messaging apps in the market.
Indeed they have made the right decision, but still, there is guidance required for the messaging app development, like what technologies you should, what features you should, and more. All these are the vital things that you should keep in mind while developing a messaging app.
My blog provides a perfect guide on messaging app development. It will give you the proper guidance and lead to a market-ready messaging app for you. The comprehensive guide of messaging app development cover four key subjects:
- Must-have app functionalities— Discover the features you need to add to your messaging app.
- Some Bonus Features— Know the advanced features that you should add to make you competitive in the market.
- Technology stacks — Learn the essential technical aspects of developing messaging apps.
- Cost — Also, get to know the messaging mobile app development cost.
So, let’s get started…
What are the Important Functionalities of Messaging Apps?
Below are the features that you should keep in mind while developing a messaging app.
The foremost step while creating a chat app is an authorization. You can offer a few types of sign-up features in an application, such as authorization via social media, email, or phone number. It is possible to develop a chat application that supports one type of authorization.
However, it is wider developing not to limit users to a single method of authorization. Instead, it might be better to create a chat app that supports all of the above options and allows users to choose the most suitable one.
#2. Instant messaging
Message content varies; all the messaging apps available today deliver small amounts of information to users. However, it’s a core feature, so you have to consider every detail of it:
- Secret Chats– Add specific chat systems that disappear after a certain period to offer an extra level of privacy.
- Delivery Status- It lets you know whether the chat participant has received and seen a message or not.
- Unsend Message– Many modern messenger apps allow users to unsend messages within a specific time frame after sending a message.
- Group Chats- Add group chat functionality, especially when you are building messengers for teams or companies.
- On-schedule Messages- Many times, we forget to send important messages that need to be delivered on time. It’s a problem of millions of users worldwide, and to sort this out, android and iOS app developers have come up with a solution, i.e., on-schedule messages.
With it, you can type your text in advance and schedule its delivery at a specific time. Then, the concerned person will get your message on time.
- Moderation- Group chat functionality also needs moderation functionality. It allows admins to ban or remove users, delete messages, plus make other users admins. For example, Telegram has a feature where admins can limit the number of messages from a user during a specific period.
#3. Contact Importing
If you want to develop a user-friendly application, don’t forget to add this feature to your app. Contact importing should be automatic and done behind the scenes. Develop an app that scans all the contacts of your phone book and imports them to a server.
Additionally, an extra feature that you should consider while messaging mobile app development is to let the users know from their contact list who are already using that app.
It’s an exciting feature and available in many apps today like Telegram, Skype, and more. If possible, import the social media contacts too; users will definitely like this addition. For this better, you should hire android developers India.
#4. Voice & Video Messages
How can we forget about voice and video messages? It’s a vital feature that everyone looks for in a messaging app. However, sometimes people are not available on calls, and typing long texts are time-consuming.
In these cases, dropping a voice or video message works better. WeChat launched this feature for the first time in the market and quickly gained appreciation among Chinese users. The country started adding this feature in their other chatting applications.
#5. Voice & Video Calls
The more communication channels you will add, the more your users will find convenient. For example, let users communicate via free voice and video calls. It will charge nothing and users enjoy using your app.
Though adding a group call functionality demands a bit more effort but provides the possibility of running video meetings.
#6. File Exchange
If you want to develop a quality and user-friendly app, add this option too. The file-sharing option allows users to easily exchange documents, images, videos, and various content types with other users.
There are two ways of implementing this feature: First, allow users to send content from the gallery or internal storage. Second, take photos or videos from the app and immediately send the captured moments to friends.
Also, Add Some Advanced Features To Standout in the Market
Stickers will be an excellent addition to your app. With it, users can add emoticons to their texts. Viber has done significantly great in this area and allowed users to add their sticker packs. As a result, users can add a unique touch to every message they send.
A chatbot is a small application that works inside a chatting app. It allows predefined answers to the user’s question and works 24×7. Thus, it doesn’t even need a human agent to stay active all the time.
With these bots, you can significantly increase your app functionality and make it a one-size-fits-all solution. In addition, there are third-party developers available in the market today who build bots and integrate them into your application.
Do you want to boost your app engagement? Add in-app gaming functionality; it will give you a high level of user engagement. Messenger is the best example here; users can play games easily without leaving the app.
Stories and streams have become a part of our daily social media activities steadily. From Facebook to Instagram, users love to share their daily life activities. It even increases engagement, and users find it more interesting than posts.
Streaming functionality facilitates users to share real-time activities with their people that disappear after 24 hours generally. For instance, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram allow users to post photos, videos, GIFs, and more that stay for 24 hours, and if they wish, they can delete it too.
#5. Natural Language Processing
Natural language processing allows apps to analyze language, translate it, or convert it into a human-like spoken language. It comes in many forms, from recognizing text in photos to developing your human-like dialogue.
Messaging apps generally have speech-to-text and response generation features. Luckily, you don’t have to hire a data scientist to integrate this feature into your app. Many tech giants are sharing API that you can use to equip your app with AI-powered features. Let’s take a look at the popular solutions available in the market today:
a). Speech-to-Text API from Google Cloud
b). Watson Speech to Text from IBM
c). Cognitive Services from Microsoft Azure
d). Speech framework from Apple
How to Make a Messaging App: Vital Considerations & Tech Stacks
#1. Overall App Architecture
What parts will you need to develop a messaging app? First, take a look at the above component diagram, and you will find the following:
API is a core part of any real-time messaging application. It establishes a connection between a client and server for authentication, message routing, event processing, and more.
- Media Service- Any messenger app needs to store, process, and return images, videos, and other data. So that’s what a media service does.
- Queue- It routes messages between API nodes, and it can be an intermediary with a fan-out messaging pattern, clustering support, plus high throughput.
- File Storage- It can be perfect object storage with support for separate buckets or a CDN for fast content distribution.
- Database Cluster- It stores user profiles, settings, events, chats, etc. It should scale vertically and horizontally plus support replication and backups too.
- Key-Value Cache Cluster- It stores temporary user data, counters, tokens, and more. It should be scalable and supports different data types, sharding, and clustering.
- Time-Series Database- It saves statistical data such as user registrations/logins or message sending functions.
- Notification Service- It sends push notifications plus an SMS code for 2-factor authentication.
- SMS Service- It is an external service that sends SMS messages to users’ mobile phone numbers. The main criterion is an SLA for SMS delivery. An SMS service should deliver messages to users quickly and work in countries where you’ll launch your app.
- Push Notifications Service- It is also an external service that sends push notifications to the mobile platform your app is supporting. I recommend you choose Google Firebase for Android and iOS apps, as it’s fast plus available free.
#2. Message Flow
You might not have gone into the in-depth technicalities of an app. Let me show you how the app distributes messages in a group with three participants:
See this schema:
It seems like we have some insurance when API Node receives messages for each chat member and then sends them only to connected clients.
But there is no need to save client connection states globally and global key-value map of connected clients and nodes for this solution.
Today, mobile app development companies develop a suitable quality solution for mobile clients with unstable connections and frequent reconnection attempts. So you can consult them, and they will get it done right.
#3. Architectural Patterns
Suppose you want your app to compete with market leaders successfully. In that case, it needs to deliver messages as fast as possible in unstable network environments and support message synchronization between multiple devices. It dictates strict requirements for the server-side software architecture. You need to choose the correct architectural pattern for avoiding rewriting services in the future.
Here, I will suggest you the Event Sourcing architecture pattern. It ideally suits a messaging app as it records a whole series of actions (events) taken on that data. For example, an app persists events in an event log, a database of events, and this log has an API to add and retrieve an entity’s events.
#4. Well-planned Back-end
In the first stages of messaging mobile app development, you have to implement the solution’s infrastructure and implement it. When you develop a chat application, you must understand that the app has to process and store a lot of data, including text messages, video, images, gifs, and different types of files.
The major functionality of a messaging app or the backend includes infrastructure like RESTful API, storage servers, databases, messaging protocols like XMPP, notification services, and more.
Security is the most important concern while creating a chat application. Below are the best methods that you can follow to provide your app a superior level of security:
- Use TLS/SSL protocols for any client-server connection.
- Connect a user’s profile to their unique phone number and implement 2-factor authentication via SMS.
- Pin certificates for mobile phone devices.
- Use end-to-end encryption for the message contents like text, audio, video, and calls with asymmetric cryptography algorithms. Create key pairs for each chat and don’t store them in the database.
- Use Private File Object storage for every chat with authentication and authorization to allow the participants to download media files from the chat bucket.
- Use Private File Object storage for every chat with authentication and authorization to allow the participants to download media files from the chat bucket.
- Use a private network for infrastructure deployment.
- Back up everything.
- Utilize rate limiting and throttling.
- Comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements.
- Never save sensitive user data in the database. If you want to save any sensitive user data, encode it or use hashing algorithms. All rows should hash with a unique salt; it will avoid decoding with lookup and rainbow tables.
- At least, use the SHA-512 hashing algorithm.
To execute it correctly, you should hire app developers in India. They will get it done right without compromising the app performance.
#6. Native or Cross-platform App
Another most important step while mobile app development is the app development platform selection; you have to choose between native or hybrid apps.
Hybrid solutions may sound great, but in reality, it’s not like that. They are limited in functionality and can’t guarantee efficient performance on all the devices. Whereas native app provides perfect performance, better user-experience plus allows a mobile app developer to add advanced features.
How Much Does it Cost to Create a Messenger App?
After knowing the functionalities and technical aspects of the app, it’s time to move on to the next important part of messaging app development, i.e., cost. Many factors influence the messaging app development cost, like the features you want to add, design, developer’s fee, number of supported operating systems, and more.
By summing all the factors, the app development costs reach around $50,000-$80,000 and exceed $300,000. So if you want to develop an efficient app like WhatsApp or Telegram, plan your budget accordingly.
See how you can plan your budget in the below table.
Additionally, launching a new messaging app in the market doesn’t mean duplicating the existing messaging apps. You can take these apps as a reference but never copy them because, in such a way, your app won’t be able to capture the user’s attention.
So, a better solution here is to develop an advanced messaging app with unique features. It will give you a competitive edge in the market.
The Bottom Lines
In my blog, I have shared a general overview of the messaging app development process.
But, also note that you can tweak the process according to your budget, time, and technicalities; no such compulsions are there.
At last, just take a quick look at the whole app development process:
- Do a complete analysis of the market and your competitors.
- Identify a USP (unique selling proposition) and some specifics of your chat app.
- Explain your business goals and expectations
- Choose and hire a top and experienced mobile app development partner.
- Create a list of the chat app’s features for the first version plus another for the fully-fledged product.
- Build a user-friendly chat app UX/UI design
- Be ready to get deeply involved in the chat app development process.
- Plan and launch a marketing strategy
- Test, deploy, and launch the app in the market.
- Connect with the app users, know feedback, and plan further app scaling and its evolution.
These points showcase a clear picture of the whole app development process. So, keep these points in mind while launching your messaging app in the market; it will grow your business by leaps and bounds.
If you still have doubts or need further assistance, connect with the best mobile app development company. They will guide you well and give your business the right direction.
Q- Are chat apps still in demand?
A- Smartphones have increased in the past years. There were around 375 million smartphone users worldwide in 2018, and by 2026, it will reach 17.72 billion. It’s growing at a consistent speed, and the chat app market is thriving with it too. Thus, investing in the chat app will not disappoint you and even increase your business growth two times.
Q- What is the cost of developing a messaging app?
A- Developing a messaging app generally costs you around $50,000-$80,000 and exceeds $300,000 if you want to build it for both the android and iOS platforms.
Q- How much does it take to develop a messaging app?
A- The app development time depends upon the functionality you want to add to your app. But basically, it takes 3 to 10 months to develop an advanced quality messaging app.