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How to Develop Chat Apps from Scratch in 2023

Alekh Verma | June 7, 2023
develop chat apps from scratch

How to Develop Chat Apps from Scratch in 2023

A messaging app is a website or chat software that enables users to communicate and send and receive instant messages. Consider some of the most widely used messaging platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Viber. Which do you employ?

Are you considering creating messaging software? Perhaps you need a new chat app to improve business procedures inside your own company? Or are you just want to disrupt the messaging app market?

Nowadays, communicating online has become the new standard. Our way of life is mostly dependent on communication apps like WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, and others.

According to Microfocus, over 100 million communications are sent out worldwide every minute. It seems sense that the market for messaging apps is expanding quickly.

Is it Good to Invest in Messaging App Development?

Do you have any idea how many texts are exchanged per minute—over 41 million? The majority of users use messaging applications, which account for over 80% of smartphone usage. People definitely require chat applications to remain in touch for both personal and professional reasons, therefore there are plenty of growth opportunities in this market. 

Text messages and phone calls can be substituted with messaging applications. Although it is not a novel idea, the rising demand for messaging and chatbot app development services suggests something different.

On December 3rd of the year 1992, the concept of texting as a form of communication was established. Today, they play a crucial role in our lives. Currently, 23 billion messages—or 270,000 texts per second—are transmitted daily throughout the world.   

Businesses are concentrating on establishing a mobile messaging app with the aid of an instant messaging app development firm to deliver a distinctive experience and meet the requirement of a global audience because there are several advantages of messaging mobile applications. 

The best thing about Facebook Messenger is how easily it makes it for companies to advertise their goods online. On the Facebook platform, 10 million marketers are now active. Its popularity as a messaging app is due to this factor.

Additionally, using a social media app development company's assistance to create a social media app for business is a wonderful reference.  

With a market share of 64.43% in the USA, Messenger was the most popular app, while Snapchat came in second with 13.59%. With 13.56%, WhatsApp finishes in third place.      

In comparison to the US, the UK is a huge market for messaging applications and has a significant impact on the creation of instant messaging apps.

The statistics on the market share of messaging apps may surprise you—not in terms of data, but in one way: once again, Facebook Messenger is the top choice of users. Messenger has a market share of 54.90% in the UK, and WhatsApp is the second most popular app (25.59%).

Although there are several messaging applications on the market, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Signal, and Snapchat are the best ones. These also serve as a great starting point if you want to create a messaging app. 

Market Size of Messaging Apps

3,09 billion individuals frequently used chat applications in 2021. This figure is predicted to increase and reach 3,51 billion by 2025. 

The size of the worldwide mobile application market was estimated at USD 206.85 billion in 2022, and it is projected to increase at a CAGR of 13.8% from 2023 to 2030. The prevalence of smartphones, increased internet usage, and the incorporation of artificial intelligence and machine learning into mobile applications all suggest that demand for mobile applications (apps) will continue to rise in the future. The aforementioned software is moreover generally acquired via app store like the Google Play Store and the App Store for iOS.

This article is a sophisticated tutorial into the developing and market specifics if you have an idea for a novel messenger.

Read More: The 5 Best AI Strategies for Outranking Your Competition in 2023

Let's start by outlining the features you need to include to create a marketable product.

These days, it's important to both implement some form of innovation to make the app interesting to the target customers and include the essential elements that would make the system function.

The plan is to launch a messaging app with key features and differentiators that are embodied in its distinctive user experience and interesting features. The following stage is to scale this chat app MVP depending on input from actual users.

Key Features In Messaging Apps

The core of a successful app is its feature. Let's have a closer look at the basic features of messaging apps.

Initial Permission/ Sign Up 

The app's users must be allowed to create personal accounts. Including a one-click user sign-up option via social media (such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) is a wise choice.

Depending on the app's objectives, you could submit a phone number or an email address for authorization. For further security, it is possible to connect with the device via confirmation SMS texts.

Contacts

For a better user experience, your messaging application should quickly access any user contacts that are currently there and import them. Giving people the option to add friends who don't already use the messenger and emphasizing those who do would be a wise move. 

The ability for users to invite others to join the messenger is also a good feature.

Professional Chat Options

In this fiercely competitive market, it is challenging to develop a solution that is on par with the industry heavyweights like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Your messaging app should have the bare minimum of features as a starting project to be accepted. Consider innovative solutions for the upgrade and final deployment that will be beneficial. Your product can prosper on the market by integrating popular social networks and creating a more individualized user experience.

 Voice and Video Calls

With the inclusion of video and audio calls, Messenger applications are now more dynamic, enabling users to interact and communicate with one another in several ways. The most typical voice and video choices present in an app are as follows:

Audio/Voice Calls: The messaging app's voice calls to let users make free international calls to friends and family, even if they live abroad. When using voice calling, users may talk to one another without seeing each other.

Video Call: Video calling enables visual communication between users. Through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which includes a video of the caller, a video call is made using an internet connection.

Group Chat

Group calls are another calling option offered by chat apps like WhatsApp in addition to audio and video calling options. Users can make groups, add people to them, take people out of them, and choose various admins for them. The use of chat programs allows users to hold group conversations using audio and video. Users can place group audio and video calls to any group member they choose.

Exchange Media and Files

Users nowadays require the ability to share files, films, photographs, and other types of material. check to see whether your messaging app accepts various app attachments.

To implement this functionality, many APIs might be utilized. Don't forget that your app has to be able to send files from the device and capture in-app moments right away.

Real-Time Location Sharing

Users may share their location with others in many apps, including parking lots, businesses, restaurants, etc. This functionality was developed using the Location Manager Class packages for iOS and Android.

The Telegram messenger now features this feature, which provides a fantastic user experience. Users of the software may even create routes between starting points and destinations.

Push Notifications

It is essential to the development of any messaging software. The user may use this function to check if a message has been sent or not. Developers use Google Cloud Messaging and Apple Push Notifications to make this option available.

Cloud Storage and Backup

If you want to improve user satisfaction and retention, your application must be adjustable. Consumers generally like the idea of customizing app interfaces, themes, and colors to make them more attractive and individualized. Remember this while compiling the list of app features.

Sticker

Stickers are one of the customer-engaging advanced messaging app features.

Stickers are a fantastic way to give your app individuality and increase the user's enjoyment and engagement. They may also be used to advertise events, sales, and other things. 

Viber has excelled in this regard tremendously and lets users contribute their own sticker packs. Users can personalize each communication they send as a consequence.

Customer Engaging Advance Features on Messaging App Features

Chatbots

A chat app's internal conversation feature is known as a chatbot. It offers predetermined responses to the user's queries and is available constantly. As a result, it doesn't even require a human to be active constantly.

You may greatly improve your app's usefulness using these bots and turn it into a universally useful tool. Additionally, you may employ bot developers to create and incorporate bots into your app.

Games

Including games in your app may improve user experience and keep users interested. Users may be rewarded for achieving particular activities or milestones inside your app using in-app games. 

You may, for instance, offer users the option to win a gift if they finish a job or advance to a given level. This may encourage people to remain using your app and return frequently.

Natural Language Processing

Apps may analyze, translate, or transform text into a spoken language that is similar to that of a human using natural language processing. It may take many different shapes, from deriving your own human-like speech to deciphering text in images. 

Speech-to-text and response-generation functions are typically seen in messaging applications. Fortunately, integrating this functionality into your app doesn't require that you hire a data scientist. You may leverage the APIs shared by several IT behemoths to give your app AI-powered features. Let's examine the most popular products on the market right now:

  • Google Cloud's Speech-to-Text API
  • IBM Watson Speech to Text
  • Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services
  • Apple's Speech Framework

Read More: THE RISE OF AI IN MOBILE APP DEVELOPMENT

Personalized Setting

By personalizing their profiles, users may showcase their individuality. They may change the names, background colors, patterns, and typefaces, as well as choose an avatar image from their camera roll or fast take one. Numerous apps allow users to view information about other users, such as when they last used the chat app, who is online, and who is now typing.

Adaptable Profile

Although it may seem gimmicky, customized configuration choices are always the cherry on top. Your WhatsApp clones might have user-customizable profile elements. The backdrop can be changed, chat passwords can be created, patterns can be made, interesting fonts can be downloaded, and chat notification tones can all be customized. This allows you to build customizable profiles to give the app a more unique feel.

Disappearing Chat

You may configure a secret chat or self-destructive chat function to make your messenger software stand apart, which will cause messages to disappear after a certain period after being read on both mobile devices. Users who want to keep their conversations secret or who need to communicate sensitive information might benefit from this feature.

Schedule a Chat

Your WhatsApp-like software should also have a scheduled post option that enables users to plan messages at any time in the future. Users will be able to pre-write their messages and have them sent at any time during the day thanks to this functionality.

Integrating an e-Wallet

With such a high demand for digital payments everywhere, introducing an m-payment option would make it easier for users to send money to their connections, increasing the number of users. An entrepreneur can't afford to ignore this feature given the demand because it has the potential to be a wonderful income model.

Tech Stack To Build Your Messaging App

 You should be aware of whether to build a cross-platform or native messaging app depending on the objectives and functionality of your product. The key distinction is whether or not the app is simultaneously or sequentially available on the majority of platforms for each operating system.

Both choices offer advantages and disadvantages. Although it needs more expenditure, native app development guarantees superior system performance, stability, and security.

Tech Stack For Developing A Messaging App

 AndroidiOS
Programming languageJava, KotlinSwift, Objective-C
Local StorageCore DataShared Preferences   
PreferencesUser DefaultsShared Preferences   
Social AuthenticationFacebook SDK  Twitter
ChatStarscreenOkHttp   
Video and voice callsWebRTC  WebRTC

BACKEND DEVELOPMENT

Programming LanguageJava, Java, HTML5, CSS3  
Automation FrameworksRSpec, PhantomJS  
SQL Data StoragePostgreSQL  
Social AuthenticationFacebook SDK  
Web Server and Web Application ServerNginx  
HostingAmazon Web Services  
Key Value StorageRedis  
For Data StoringAmazon services  
Real-time CommunicationSocket.io  
Social media integrationFacebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.  
Analytical toolsFlurry, Google Analytics, Firebase,  
Maps & NavigationGoogle Maps, Google Places  
SMS ServicesTwilio  
Email MarketingMailChimp, Elastic emails
Payment GatewaysBraintree, Stripe, PayPal, etc.  
Push NotificationsAPNS (iOS), FCM (Android)  

The general idea is to go for open-source technologies, which prevent building everything from scratch. Instead, it is possible to use existing well-proven libraries and frameworks.

When selecting a tech stack for your messaging app, put users and their experience as a priority and consider the speed, performance, and security of the chat app.

How can you monetize your messaging application?

Let's be honest, everybody wants ROI, and the portal for it is through App monetization. These strategies include:

In-App Advertising

There are several ways to integrate advertisements inside the chat app. This can be a native ad, pop-up ad, banner ad, or another type. This tactic is used by Viber Messenger, which generates millions by displaying customized adverts and messages.

In-App Purchases 

According to this approach, users must pay to access some premium app features, eliminate messaging app advertisements, buy sticker packs, or play video games. The LINE chat app employs the latter option, allowing users to play directly within the messenger.

In-App Payment Gateway

Users typically make payments inside chat applications, which is how in-app purchases are similar to the traditional monetization technique.

Chatbot

When your app gains a user base and interest, sophisticated monetization options like chatbot integration are possible. Making pertinent suggestions enables you to increase your CTR (click-through rate) and generate income.

Sponsorship

In this concept, in-app sponsorships are used to earn income and spread brand awareness. The optimal time to employ this strategy is once your app has a sufficient user base.

Pay-Per-Download

If you are certain that your software will work uniquely and differently and you have tested the idea that customers would pay for the app, you may employ the pay-per-download strategy. Users often only purchase highly specialized, high-performing apps.

Similar to a pay-per-download price, a subscription fee is only charged when a customer uses a messaging app regularly.

Subscription and Content Merchandising

Creating chat themes, desktops, and stickers for any company via content merchandising. The app and the company benefit from brand promotion in a win-win situation. 

Official accounts

Official accounts are designed for companies, public personalities, or celebrities that want to communicate closely with their fans using messaging apps.

White labeling

This strategy implies the creation of chat applications for customer assistance or internal business usage.

Read More: ESSENTIAL MOBILE APP MONETIZATION STRATEGIES TO LOOK OUT FOR IN 2023

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Messaging App?

No matter what kind of program it is, the complexity and features are used to estimate development costs. Even if you try to estimate costs roughly, there are still several factors to take into account, like the platform, the complexity of the app, the development team, and the hourly rates. For complicated apps, the price of an MVP typically ranges from $30,000 to $300,000. 

Challenges of Building A Chat Application

Take into account the ensuing difficulties before moving further with the messaging app's real development. This knowledge will aid in avoiding errors, removing risks, and preventing potential issues with a messaging app's operation in the future.

1. Defining Real-Time Features

It will be challenging to compete with the industry titans that have upped the bar in the messaging app space. Users who want additional features, stability, and functionality are on the opposite side of the coin. The messaging software has to be much more than just a chat app to compete. After an MVP launch that is a success, consider all the features that will ensure customer satisfaction:

  • Stickers and special typefaces
  • Mute chat
  • updated privacy status
  • voice calls and videos
  • File exchange

2. Security Issues

 The main goal of messaging app development is to ensure the highest level of app security and protection. It is essential to offer communication encryption, personal data security, and secure project design.

Make sure you offer the most amount of protection, specifically:

  • Using cryptographic keys and protocols for end-to-end encryption.
  • Plan the architecture of your product for safe data storage.
  • Incorporate privacy policies in your chat app. 
  • Include additional capabilities that users may enable for messenger security.

3. The Right Tech Stack

Your software must first be properly created and bundled to function. Consider current apps and look for case studies to identify the tech stack that will work best for your project. 

4. Overloaded Server

This issue might get worse when more people start utilizing applications. The optimization of a program like WhatsApp requires a lot of technical work and skilled experts.

Choose a server architecture and capacity that is supported by the right hardware to quickly ensure app scalability. Make sure servers are set up correctly to provide reliable service during times of heavy demand.

It is highly recommended that you create an action plan and a list of potential server bottlenecks.

5. Impossible App Updates

Messaging applications are always in contact with their users and process their data continuously. Make careful to configure your servers and architecture such that you don't lose any current data while deploying new features and updating apps.

Real-time chat app scalability is a difficult task that heavily depends on the predetermined design.

6. Resistant Connection

The network loss and transition between Wi-Fi and smartphones can be caused by a variety of factors. It should be noted that in the event of a brief disruption, the final communication may be lost during such losses.

As a result, you should design your messaging app to present it as a dependable tool that maintains a steady connection and replicates lost messages after disconnection.

How Long Does It Take To Develop A Chat App

Your messaging app's development schedule will vary depending on several variables. They consist of, but are not restricted to:

Several platforms on which you want to construct your product, taking into account the complexity of its features and design Number of features that take into account the location and cost of the software development vendor you've chosen Number and specifics of the third-party services you'll be integrating. 

UX/UI design, architecture planning, iOS development, Android development, backend programming, quality assurance, and other specialized services are all part of any software development.

Be aware that it typically takes 3 to 5 months to produce an MVP for a chat application. Keep in mind that this usually only comprises the most fundamental app features. The amount of the budget is greatly influenced by the development vendor you select.

A single platform (iOS or Android) will cost between $30,000 and $50,000 for the 3-5 month development period. You typically get a team of 4-6 experts at this price, including an iOS/Android developer, a backend developer, a QA engineer, a project manager, and a designer.

App Features Development Time

  • User registration 12-16+ hours
  • The messaging feature 200+ hours 
  • Multimedia file transfer development 12-16 hours
  • Contact sharing 8 hours
  • Location 8+ hours
  • Voice and video calls 200+ hours 
  • Establishing settings 8 hours
  • UX/UI design 100+ hours for prototypes

Plan your budget and timeframe accordingly. A smart technique is to prioritize app functionality while finalizing your product concept and company goal.

Concluding Chat App Development

Online communication is an essential component of everyday life; 91% of young people and 80% of adults text daily. Each year, this industry will advance and develop, offering tremendous possibilities for your current investment. The level of social satisfaction rises as the number of communication channels increases.

For more detailed details on the messaging app and the development process, see this brief case study. The development of various applications, including messaging and entertainment apps, falls under the competence of the ESL team.

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