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How much does it cost to make an app like Instagram

There’s no need for impressive statistics with millions of users when we talk about Instagram. It’s just a part of our life already as we are able to share anything in seconds. Even people without smartphones heard about and know what Instagram is. Our agenda here is to find out how much does it cost to make an app like Instagram.

Being such a huge success story in the world of mobile applications, Instagram is inspiring many business companies. It does not necessarily mean to create full Instagram clone, rather to utilize marketing capabilities. You’ve heard about apps similar to Instagram: Swipe, Snapchat, Vine Camera, Flickr, Phhhoto etc. So what about the cost to create a photo sharing app?

Instagram app was sold to Facebook
for $1 billion in 2012

How does Instagram work?

From user standpoint, all you have to do is to download the app for free from your app store and install it on the phone. Create your account, open the app and you’re ready to go. Right away you have three options when you hit a camera icon.

  • Photo – to take pictures and post online
  • Gallery – to upload images from your phone
  • Video – to shoot short videos

Some people say Instagram is like Facebook, but you write less and post photos more. Your friends and followers will see your photos in the feed. And they can like it, tag it, and comment on it. So it’s a great social networking app, and mainly a photo sharing app in essence. Get it on:

Few more helpful tips and Q&As regarding Instagram use:

How to create an Instagram account?

Download Instagram iOS, Android or Windows Phone app, click Sign Up and enter email. Or login with Facebook. Create username and password. On PC go to Instagram website, enter email and username, or login with Facebook.

How to use hashtags?

Upload a photo or video, type # sign with your text next to it. Example: #coachella. Only letters and numbers allowed. Tap a hashtag to see images uploaded with it.


How to upload videos?


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Choose video from your phone and click Library at the bottom. To record video directly in the app tap the Video button. 3 to 15 seconds long videos are allowed.

How to turn off notifications in Instagram?

Go to your profile, tap Android or iOS in the top right corner, go to push notifications settings and turn it off/on.

Basic features of Instagram

There are also ways to use Instagram for business. And many leading brands already do that, due to the fact that 80% of people do follow 1 or more businesses on Instagram. But that is a separate extensive topic for another time. Now we have to take a look at Instagram features. These are among key factors to how much does it cost to make an app like Instagram issue.

Instagram-like app features

Thus, to create a photo sharing app similar to Instagram you’d have to incorporate features like:

And actually more features depending on the scope of your project and type of target mobile app. One extra aspect is that you also have to inquiry into how to make a photo sharing website. Because Instagram on PC is also available as desktop application. And you will probably need that too.

Technology stack to create an Instagram-like app

When researching how to create an app like Instagram, start with tools and technology. Instagram infrastructure is quite extensive. Not a surprise, if you take into account traffic loads and demand for fast mobile engineering. Thus, React Native is in use due to code sharing possibility and iteration speed.

Instagram technology stack also includes the following tools. Amazon web services for computing capacities and load balancing – Amazon EC2, Route 53, S3, EBS. Also, Gunicorn as an interface between web servers and the application.

Curiously, Instagram uses Ubuntu Linux 11.04 as their operational system. As application web server they imply Django framework (on Python language), that is run on high-CPU machines. Django is assisted by NGINX, a free HTTP and reverse proxy server.

PostgreSQL is the optimal solution for data storage. Instagram uses it to accommodate everything, from user data and photos to meta data, tags, etc. For more details check Instagram technology stack.

But if you want to find out how much does it cost to make an app like Instagram, that’s not all.

Backend development cost

This is where the calculation of photo sharing app cost starts. Firstly, four essential aspects to create an app like Instagram:

  • users
  • posts
  • content
  • messaging

This would be a skeleton of your Instagram clone app, the structure that Android and iOS app developers call back-end. Instagram uses Python (Django framework) and HTML5 languages for such app development.

Instagram architecture

Although, to make an app like Instagram for Android we can utilize Java or Kotlin. Similarly, Swift and Objective-C to develop iOS apps. Backend would also probably require incorporating real-time chats, with for instance.

Instagram backend development: 400 hours.

Read more on How to make an app.

App like Instagram for Android

This stage of app development for native platform(s) of your choice would eventually be the crucial one. Both in sense of time/resources and app cost. To make an Android app like Instagram we’ll be combatting technical challenges peculiar to this ecosystem. These are screen sizes, flat design, app starting times, image caching etc.

Instagram Android developer would have to create functionality including:

  • App skeleton
  • Main screen
  • Registration/login
  • Search
  • Photo/video editor
  • Taking photos/videos
  • Profile/edit profile
  • Messages
  • Settings/geolocation
  • Social integration
  • Followings/comments
  • Push notification

Instagram Android development: 1500 hours.

App like Instagram for iOS

Developing a social networking app and/or photo sharing app for iPhone devices faces less challenges. Instagram provides several iPhone hooks and document interaction API, to start off.

Secondly, images on iOS phones are pre-loaded and square-sized (640px by 640 px) for Instagram app. All the features for Instagram-like app developers are able to build with Swift or Parse languages. Utilizing Xcode development environment for macOS, iOS, watchOS can cut down development time, compared to Android.

Instagram iOS development: 1320 hours approximately.

Summary: the cost

Now, we are finally ready to tell how much does an app like Instagram cost. Of course, two main factors to it would be the timeline and developer rate. App developers charge differently in various countries. With highs and lows, we take the average figure of $50 per hour rate for Instagram-like app cost estimate. Also consider that at ThinkMobiles we offer $30 hourly rate for mobile app development projects.

iOS applicationAndroid applicationApp for all platforms
Total cost (approx.)$100.000$110.000$165.000

Regarding timelines to develop an app like Instagram, our estimate is:

  • 400 hours for backend
  • 1500 hours roughly for app development
  • 100 hours to design and 100 hours to create a web application
  • 100 hours for all kinds of testing

To summarize our Instagram business research, it would cost around $100.000+ to make a photo sharing app for single platform. For both iOS and Android, or more platforms one would have to spend $165.000 or more to make an app like Instagram.

Would you decide to simply develop an Instagram app clone, the price would be lower, clearly. It is noteworthy to remember, that Instagram was initially built in 2 months by 3 engineers. With one year to launch, Instagram was later sold to Facebook for $1 billion.


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