How to create an App like WhatsApp?
Given the remarkable success of WhatsApp, it is no surprise that countless startups, SMEs, and large enterprises are investing in the development of WhatsApp-like apps. If you intend to emulate the triumph of WhatsApp and how to create an app like WhatsApp, then make sure you read this article.
WhatsApp is an instant messaging app that enables users to send messages, photos, audio/video files, geolocation data, and make audio and video calls. It was developed in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, and in 2014, it was acquired by Facebook. It remains the most popular messaging app in the world, with users in over 180 countries across the globe. In 2023, the number of active users on WhatsApp reached 2.24 billion, exchanging over 100 billion messages sent over WhatsApp voice and video calls daily. It is available on Android, iOS, and desktop computers. WhatsApp is truly a success story!What are the leading apps like WhatsApp?
Several messaging apps in the market are identical to WhatsApp regarding main features and acclaim.
Telegram is known for its security and privacy features. It allows you to send and receive messages from your contacts without sharing your phone number while offering end-to-end encryption for voice and video calls, messaging, group chats, channels, and bots. Signal is another encrypted communication service for instant messaging, voice, and video calls, and it is popular with more privacy-conscious users who use it as an alternative to WhatsApp.
The third contender app similar to WhatsApp is Viber, another messaging app that allows users to send text messages and make audio and video calls. Other popular apps include WeChat, Line, and Facebook Messenger, which offer messaging, voice, video calls, and additional features like groupKey features of WhatsAppchats and social media integration.
Features of WhatsApp Messaging App
The following list explains the core features of WhatsApp; these features are also predominantly used in WhatsApp-like apps.
1. Instant messaging
WhatsApp-like app features instant messaging that facilitates fast and seamless communication between users. It allows for real-time exchange of text messages, enabling users to stay connected and have conversations quickly and conveniently.
2. Real-time internet access
Real-time connectivity is a crucial feature of WhatsApp-like apps, as it enables users to communicate with each other instantly. This feature ensures that messages, voice notes, and calls are delivered and received promptly, allowing users to engage in real-time conversations with friends or family from anywhere and at any time.
3. End-to-end encryption
WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption to boost the privacy and security of user communications. This technique encrypts messages, calls, and files and ensures that the sender and recipient only access them. The encryption feature is also commonly used by WhatsApp-like apps.
4. Push notifications
Push notifications are another critical feature of WhatsApp-like apps, as they permit users to receive instant updates and alerts on their mobile devices without opening the app. This feature lets users stay connected with their contacts and receive real-time notifications for incoming messages, calls, and other crucial events. With push notifications, users can quickly respond to important messages without fully launching the app.
5. Video and voice calling.
Video and voice calling are intrinsic features of instant messaging applications like WhatsApp, as they allow users to have real-time conversations with their contacts regardless of their location. With these features, users can easily make high-quality voice and video calls, enabling them to hear and see each other one-on-one with an internet connection.
6. Group chat
WhatsApp-like apps also allow users to create groups for personal or business communication chats. It is similar to WhatsApp, allowing users to create groups with up to 256 members.
7. Status updates
WhatsApp users can share their status with friends and family, comprising text, photos, or videos. These statuses last 24 hours and can be seen by all contacts or a preferred group of contacts.
8. Multimedia sharing
WhatsApp allows users to share photos, videos, documents, and location with their contacts. Apart from serving as an instant messaging tool, users can also use WhatsApp to share vital files containing photos and videos with friends and family.
9. WhatsApp Web
You can also access WhatsApp from a computer through WhatsApp Web. It allows users to send and receive messages on their computers without relying on their phones.
10. Voice message recording
WhatsApp users can record and send voice messages in real time, which can be more effective and beneficial for situations where typing a message is not convenient or possible.
11. Read receipts and online status.
WhatsApp also provides key information to the user. It shows users when the recipient has delivered and read their message. It also shows when a contact is online, which can help know when to send a message.
12. Social integration
Social integration is another vital feature of messaging apps like WhatsApp, as it allows users to easily connect and communicate with their friends and family across various social media platforms. By integrating with social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, users can easily share their status updates, photos, and videos with their WhatsApp contacts and vice versa.
WhatsApp-like app development process
The development process of a WhatsApp-like app is a multiphase process requiring careful planning, execution, and resources.
The first stage of developing an app like WhatsApp is to identify the need for a messaging app and conceptualize the features you want to include. You should conduct market research to determine the target audience and their needs, as well as analyze competitors’ apps to understand what features they have and what they lack. You can then create a detailed list of features you want to include in your app, prioritize them, and create user stories to help you understand how users interact with your app.
2. Technical specification
After finalizing the features, the next stage is to create a technical specification that outlines the app’s functionality, user interface, and architecture. The technical specification should include a detailed description of each feature, its technical requirements, and how it integrates with other elements. It should also outline the architecture of the app, including the server-side and client-side components, as well as the communication protocols used between them.
3. Backend development
The backend development of an app like WhatsApp is crucial, as it handles all the messaging and user data. The messaging protocol used in WhatsApp is called XMPP, an open-source protocol that allows for real-time messaging. You must create a server that can handle millions of concurrent connections, implement a messaging protocol like XMPP, and set up a database to store all the messaging and user data.
4. Frontend development
The frontend development of an app like WhatsApp involves creating an intuitive, user-friendly, and aesthetically pleasing user interface. You will need to create separate versions of the app for iOS and Android and ensure that both versions are consistent in design and functionality. The frontend development should also include testing the app on multiple devices to ensure it works seamlessly on different screen sizes and resolutions.
5. Quality assurance
The quality assurance stage involves testing the app for functionality, usability, and security. The app should be tested thoroughly to identify any bugs or issues that must be fixed before launch. It involves conducting unit, integration, and user acceptance tests to ensure that the app meets the technical specification and is ready for launch.
6. Deployment and maintenance
After the app is tested and ready for launch, you can deploy it to the app stores. The deployment process involves creating a developer account, uploading the app to the app stores, and complying with the app store guidelines. After launch, the app will require regular maintenance to ensure it remains secure, performs well, and is up-to-date with the latest operating system changes and security patches.
How to monetize WhatsApp-like apps?
There are varied monetization models that can generate profits from apps like WhatsApp. The following are the most commonplace and productive monetization strategies.
1. In-app purchases
In this model, you can give users access to basic features for free and charge them a fee for providing access to advanced features in the app.
2. Peer-to-peer (P2P)
The P2P monetization strategy enables users to send and receive money within the app. This method is functional for apps that ease individual transactions, such as marketplaces or classified apps.
You can use this model to charge a recurring fee and offer premium services monthly or annually.
Although WhatsApp refrains from displaying ads on its platform. Other apps can use this model to generate revenues.
How to estimate cost of developing a WhatsApp-like app?
The cost of creating a WhatsApp-like app is a complex and pricey process that involves numerous stages, such as ideation, planning, design, development, testing, and launch. The cost depends on features, complexity, platform, and team expertise. The following is an examination of the cost of developing a WhatsApp-like app:
The first stage is planning, which involves identifying the requirements, researching the market, and creating a roadmap for development. This stage can cost between $5,000 to $10,000.
The design stage involves creating wireframes, UI/UX design, and prototyping. The cost of design can vary from $5,000 to $20,000.
The development stage involves writing code, integrating features, and creating a server-side infrastructure. The cost of development can vary depending on the platform and the number of features. Developing an MVP (minimum viable product) can cost between $50,000 to $100,000.
The testing stage involves identifying and fixing bugs and ensuring the app’s functionality and security. The cost of testing can vary from $10,000 to $20,000.
The launch stage involves submitting the app to the app stores and promoting it. Launching an app can vary depending on the marketing budget, and the launch cost can be between $5,000 to $10,000.
Team size, location, and expertise are crucial factors affecting the cost of developing a WhatsApp-like app, including the team size and location. For example, hiring a development team from North America or Europe can be more expensive than hiring developers from Asia, Latin America, or Africa.
Developing a WhatsApp-like app can range from $50,000 to $250,000. The total cost of the app can fluctuate depending on the complexity, features, platform, team size, and location. Therefore, planning and allocating an appropriate budget for the project is vital to guarantee its success.
How to create a messaging app like WhatsApp?
Creating a messaging app like WhatsApp involves several steps, such as selecting the platform and programming language, designing and developing the essential features like messaging, voice and video calls, file sharing, and group chat. The app should also be secure with end-to-end encryption, thoroughly tested for bugs and performance, launched, and marketed effectively to attract users. Regular security updates and feature enhancements are also essential to stay competitive.
How much does it cost to build an app like WhatsApp?
The cost of developing an app like WhatsApp depends on various factors, and the development can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000 or more. However, the final cost can vary based on the project’s specific requirements and the development team’s location and charges.
Which programming languages are required to develop a WhatsApp-like app?
WhatsApp was developed using Erlang, C++, and Java. However, there are several other programming languages that you can use to develop a WhatsApp-like app, including Swift, Kotlin, React Native, and Flutter.
How long does it take to develop a WhatsApp-like app? The development time for a WhatsApp-like app can vary depending on the features and complexity. Typically, it can take six months to a year or more.
What features should a WhatsApp-like app have?
A WhatsApp-like app should have features like messaging, voice and video calls, group chat, file sharing, encryption, push notifications, and backup and restore options.
Gohar is a seasoned IT writer specializing in leading technologies. He holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of London, with professional experience spanning over five years in the IT sector. His expertise involves a keen focus on mobile applications, web apps, blockchain, content management systems, e-commerce, and fintech. Beyond the professional field, Gohar is an avid reader and reads extensively about emerging and innovative technologies.