How to make a messaging app: instant messaging app development

ThinkMobiles Team 23/05/2017

Messaging apps have made a serious kick to email services. Today’s chat apps and social networking apps are extremely available, secure and rich in features. Facebook Messenger and  Whatsapp are highly popular in most of the world, though certain markets pave way for their messenger versions. Like WeChat in China or Teta in South African countries. Anyhow, mobile messaging is a huge market and you may wonder how to make a messaging app.

Now, Whatsapp and Messenger secure #1 and #2 spots globally, with the number of users. By the way, Whatsapp was acquired by Facebook for $22 billion. Think about that figure. You make a successful chat app and in few years get cashed in billions. Or continue growing on your own. Of course, there’s a fierce competition, but this is a precursor for an even better messaging app.

Besides, it could be applications of various kinds. Snapchat, for instance, is a social networking app primarily, that also has a chat feature. Or strictly confidential chat apps like ChatSecure and Signal. There could be many reasons and business incentives to create a messaging app. Let us see what goes into chat app development.

Messaging app features

Messenger apps are no longer just for texting and sending pictures. It has turned into the whole industry, with app, APIs, frameworks and developers. Users browse merchandise and watch content in chat apps. Brands and businesses attract new customers figuring out new marketing ways. So how do you create a messaging app? What features it does comprise?

Whether a chat application in Android or iPhone, it should possess a set of mandatory features. Messaging apps are not just for plain messaging, forgive the wordplay. Taking a look at popular dozen of these, the common features of a chat app are:

  1. Instant messaging between users
  2. Group chat, up to hundreds of people
  3. Voice calls, or video calls
  4. Offline messaging, to send texts even without wi-fi
  5. Push notifications, for system alerts
  6. Social media integration, for logging in and/or contact gathering
  7. Location sharing / screen sharing / file sharing
  8. Online presence indicators
  9. Chat history, searchable
  10. Additional features like community, hashtags, analytics, etc.

Another huge aspect to a messaging app is privacy and security. With all the hacking, data stealing and identity theft going on these days, your chat app must be trusted. Most of messengers already require mobile phone number verification to register. For better data protection, some chat apps use end-to-end encryption. E2EE approach means only the users communicating with each other can read the messages, and no one else. And some apps don’t even support group messaging for that matter.

Popular chat apps

To create a messaging app properly, take a look at the top performing applications. Analyze, take the best, define possible market gaps. Maybe you would decide to make a simple Viber clone. Maybe you’ll see new ways to engage users. So, among best iOS messaging apps are:

Facebook Messenger – a separate mobile app for chatting with friends. Comes with voice messaging, video calls, location sharing, group chat, funny stickers. The number of monthly active users (MAU) is 1.2 billion.

Viber instantly connects you to any other app user worldwide. This chat app is known for ease of use – you just install it and let it read your phone contacts. Another great feature is high-quality audio for voice calls. Other characteristics are similar to other messaging apps: voice and video calls, notifications, group chats. Viber’s MAU is 250 million.

Read about How much does Viber cost to make.

Examples of top chat apps for Android include:

Telegram – a cloud based messaging application for secure communication. It supports photos, videos and files of any kind. And group chats up to 5000 people is outstanding, yet the app does not offer voice or video calls. Just for text messaging. Telegram is also available for Windows, Mac and Linux computers. MAU – 100 million.

WhatsApp is probably the most popular messaging app, that millions of user love for messaging and calling with no cellular provider fees. Along with great looking chats and video calls the app works with data encryption for security reasons. In addition, fun gamification and entertaining features similar to Snapchat. Whatsapp MAU is 1 billion.

Read about How much does Whatsapp cost.

Obviously, there are more messaging apps, like Google Hangouts, Snapchat, Voxer, HeyTell, Talkatone, Silent, Google Allo, Signal, etc. Also, Line app is very popular in Asia, with over 600 million users. While WeChat in China has 700 million people using it.

How to make a messaging app

Messaging application development depends on what do you mean by ‘create’ in the first place. Create a chat app completely from scratch writing the whole code? Or create it using online tools, APIs, protocols and libraries? Secondly, do you develop on your own or outsource it? You can certainly delegate the task to software agencies, like ThinkMobiles.

Your main considerations to create a chat app like WhatsApp would be:

  • Team
  • Timeline
  • Backend
  • Features
  • Design
  • Cost
  • Security
  • Support

Choose the platforms – is it going to be a messaging app for Android, iOS, Windows, any other… or all of them (cross-platform development). Make a plan, check developer rates, estimate if the chat app development would fit within your budget. Then there are lots of technicalities, upon which we can give you an expert advice as you contact us. Let’s build your messaging app together!

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