Messaging App Development: How to Create a Chat App like WhatsApp

Messaging apps are one of the hottest commodities in the app development market. In a world where we are constantly connected to our devices, it’s no wonder that people are looking for ways to connect with each other faster and more efficiently. 

If you’re considering getting into messaging app development, this guide is for you. We will explore the messaging app market, the various features that make a successful messaging app, and how you can get started on your own development journey.

Current Market Scenario of Messaging Apps 

  • Globally, there are around 3.09B mobile messaging app users. 

  • In 2019, the messaging chat software demand was valued at $47.92B and can reach $82.36B by 2027 at a CAGR of 7.02%.
  • Every minute, about 41M messages are passed. 
  • Now, chatting applications are 20% greater & even more than social networks. 
  • Messenger is the most talked about messaging mobile app in the USA, with around 107.87 million users. 
  • Now, approximately 2.9 billion people use Messenger and WhatsApp.
  • Presently, WhatsApp has the highest allocation of all messaging apps globally. If you merge all the existing applications of the Meta universe, the messenger market leaders of just ten countries worldwide are not from the Meta dynasty.

What are the Important Functionalities of Messaging Apps?

Below are the features that you should keep in mind while creating a messaging app.

#1. Authorization

When developing a messaging app, it is essential to consider the authorization process. This is the process by which a user is granted access to the app. There are a few different ways to approach authorization, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. One option is to use a social media login.

This means the user would log in with their existing social media accounts, such as Facebook or Twitter. The advantage of this approach is that it is quick and easy for the user. They do not need to create a new account and can start using the app immediately. 

The disadvantage is that not all users will have a social media account, and those who do may not want to use it to log in to another app. Another option is to use an email address and password. This is a traditional approach, giving users more control over their accounts.

They can choose any email address they want and set their own password. The disadvantage of this approach is that it takes more time for the user to set up their account. Once the user has been authorized, they can begin using the app.



#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 wish to build a user-friendly messaging application, don’t forget to add contact-importing features 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 is 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 in 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 its other chatting applications.

#5. Voice & Video Calls

Voice and video calls are an essential part of messaging apps as they allow users to communicate with each other without having to type out messages. Video and voice call functionality should be easy to use and intuitive, with a clear interface that shows who is talking and who is on hold. 

Calls should be stable and clear, with little to no lag or dropped calls. Messaging apps should also allow group calls so that users can communicate with multiple people simultaneously.

#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.

Advanced Features To Standout in the Market

#1. Stickers

Stickers are a great way to add personality to your app and make it more fun and engaging for users. Plus, they can be used to promote special offers, events, and more. 

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.

#2. Chatbots

A chatbot is a small application that works inside a chat 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, you can hire app developers who have expertise in building bots and integrating them into your application.

#3. Games

Adding games to your app can provide a great user experience and keep people engaged. In-app games can be used to reward users for completing certain tasks or milestones within your app. 

For example, you could give users a chance to win a prize if they complete a task or reach a certain level. This can help to motivate users to keep using your app and come back for more.

#4.  Streaming

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 them 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 APIs 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 Create 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- When it comes to messaging apps, media service is one of the most important aspects to consider. This is what allows users to send and receive files such as photos, videos, and audio clips.
  • 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 for 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 the global key-value map of connected clients and nodes for this solution. 

Today, mobile app development companies develop suitable quality solutions 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

A well-planned backend will power all of the features and functionality of your app, so it’s crucial to get it right. There are a few things to consider when planning your back end:

1. What kind of data will you need to store? 

2. How will you handle user authentication? 

3. What kind of scaling do you need to support? 

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can look at different tech stacks that will work for your needs. Some popular options for messaging app back-ends include Node.js, PHP, and Ruby on Rails. Whichever tech stack you choose, make sure you have a plan for how you’ll build and maintain your back end. A well-planned back-end is essential for a successful messaging app.

#5. Security 

Security is the most important concern while creating a chat application. Below are the best methods that you can follow to provide your app with a superior level of security:

  1. Use TLS/SSL protocols for any client-server connection. 
  2. Connect a user’s profile to their unique phone number and implement 2-factor authentication via SMS.
  3. Pin certificates for mobile phone devices.
  4. 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.
  5. Use Private File Object storage for every chat with authentication and authorization to allow the participants to download media files from the chat bucket.
  6. Use Private File Object storage for every chat with authentication and authorization to allow the participants to download media files from the chat bucket.
  7. Use a private network for infrastructure deployment.
  8. Back up everything.
  9. Utilize rate limiting and throttling.
  10. Comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements. 
  11. 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 be hash with a unique salt; it will avoid decoding with lookup and rainbow tables.
  12. 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’s performance. 

#6. Native or Cross-platform App

Another 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 devices. Whereas a native app provides perfect performance, and a better user experience plus allows a mobile app developer to add advanced features.



How Much Does it Cost to Create a Messenger App?

Creating a messenger app can be a relatively inexpensive endeavor, or it can be quite costly – it all depends on the features and functionality you want to include. 

For a simple app with limited features, you could expect to pay around $5,000-$10,000. 

But if you’re looking for a more robust app with more bells and whistles, the price tag could be closer to $50,000-$100,000

See how you can plan your budget in the below table

App Development Factors Development of the First App Version (Basic Features) Development of a Common App Version (Some Additional Features+ More Complex Design) Development of a Complex App (Complex Features & Design)
Development Cost ~$50,000 – $80,000 ~ $150,000+ ~$30,000+
Development Timeline ~ 3-5 months ~ 4-9 months 9+ months (Ongoing Development + Support)

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 Line

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:

  1. Do a complete analysis of the market and your competitors.
  2. Identify a USP (unique selling proposition) and some specifics of your chat app.
  3. Explain your business goals and expectations
  4. Choose and hire a top and experienced mobile app development partner.
  5. Create a list of the chat app’s features for the first version plus another for the fully-fledged product.
  6. Build a user-friendly chat app UX/UI design
  7. Be ready to get deeply involved in the chat app development process.
  8. Plan and launch a marketing strategy
  9. Test, deploy, and launch the app in the market.
  10. Connect with the app users, no 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. 



Frequently Asked Questions

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.

1 thought on “Messaging App Development: How to Create a Chat App like WhatsApp”

  1. First and foremost. comprehend the entire process and then move forward one step at a time. Your innovative ideas will certainly help you to achieve and develop a unique messaging app. All you need to do is learn from the best but think out of the box. Rather than being intimidated by the apps that already exist in the market, be inspired by their success because you need courage and clarity of thoughts to help the world connect better.

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