Apr 17, 2020

How to create a messaging app

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How many messengers are installed on your smartphone right now? According to statistics, each user has 2-5 instant messengers. All of them are used to one degree or another. The mobile app market is booming. According to forecasts, the number of messenger users by 2021 will amount to almost two and a half billion, and this is a third of the world’s population. Amazing numbers! Is there a place for your startup on the mobile application market and what features should your messenger have to gain popularity? Find out in our article.

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Market outlook

According to Facebook, messaging has become part of everyday life for 80% of adults aged 19–64 years and 91% of adolescents aged 13–18 years. Regarding the reasons for using instant messengers, the Software Advice survey revealed that people choose chats according to the following criteria: unlimited time of use, convenience, multitasking, storage of information and messages, security.

If you plan to create a messenger app, you will definitely encounter high competition in the market. Remember that the main criterion for the success of popular chats is to find your unique niche and satisfy the needs of the audience, providing users with rich functionality and a convenient interface. For example, Slack is actively conquering the market by providing enterprise communications solutions. Snapchat, in turn, has gathered a young audience that cannot imagine their life without funny lenses for the photo. WhatsApp and Facebook messenger are an example of how two products with similar features and interfaces can coexist perfectly in the market for communication solutions.

Although the competition is high, there is still potential for creating a new application. The development of a messenger for iOs or Andriod begins with the correct statement of the problem and the selection of tools. So, it’s worth starting with the selection of functionality.

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Essential functions

If you want your future messenger to become a successful startup, it is worth considering what features the top world applications already offer their users. Basic functions will become the foundation of your messenger.

Registration and login

It’s convenient when you can register or log in to your account using a phone number, email or on social networks. Give users a few options, and they will choose the convenient variant. Most instant messengers use just a phone number. For security reasons, you can also send a confirmation code.

Contacts import

For the convenience of users, all contacts should be automatically imported into the messenger. This is also necessary so that they can see which of their friends uses your application, in addition, users can send an invitation to contacts that are not yet registered.

Profile editing

Help users express their personality. Add the ability to change the name, background color of chats, select an avatar photo from the gallery or take a picture right now. Messengers also show the status of the user: when a person last used the application, who is online and who is typing a message.

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Messages and chats

Messaging works thanks to a network connection, but you also need an offline mode so that users can receive all missed messages as soon as they find a connection. Besides, add the message status: delivered, failed to deliver, edited, viewed. These are standard chat requirements.

Do not forget about group chats where users will add friends. It is worth offering both private and public chats.

Quick search

Do not forget about the search. This is a feature that makes it easy to find messages by words, your friends by profile name, media files, links, GIFs and so on. 

Voice and video messages

A very popular feature now. Typing a message is not always comfortable, so users should be able to record a voice message or their own video in real-time.

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Data storage

Keeping a message history is very important. This also applies to any media files, voice and video messages, links, photos, etc. People should always have full access to all messages. In the end, no one rules out entering from new devices or uninstalling an application.

Free calls and video calls

This is an opportunity to make a regular call anywhere in the world to everyone, who uses your application. The main thing here is an internet connection. A video call works the same way, only the app needs access to the camera of all users.

Files and stickers

For quick messages, emoji, stickers, photos or videos are an integral part. Indeed, much can be expressed not only in words. In the end, no one canceled memes. Some messengers even allow users to download their own stickers. So this point should be given special attention.


Notifications are a way to tell the user about everything that happens in the application, including new messages. They need to be implemented at the development stage of MVP.

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What special can be added

To win a large audience, just sending messages and photos is not enough. You will get downloads only thanks to special functions that aren’t yet widely used or absolutely unique. Here you should show your imagination and think about your competitive advantages. We picked up some special features of popular apps:

  • Secret chats in which messages are deleted on both devices after a certain time.
  • Shooting screenshots is another security option. If one of the chat members decides to screen your message, you will receive a notification and then you will carefully share files with this person.
  • Ability to share location with friends.
  • Chatbots. This is especially useful for e-commerce.
  • Temporary content, such as statuses or stories.
  • GIFs as avatars.
  • The ability to create your own stickers.
  • Pending messages for which the user can choose the time of sending.
  • A personal channel for saving files, links and important messages.
  • Games in the messenger.
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Let’s talk about the technology part

Platform and type of application

The first step is to decide whether you want to create a native or hybrid application. A hybrid app seems like a great idea, but in fact, it is far from it. Native applications provide impeccable performance and better user experience, as well as add sophisticated features. Hybrid applications, on the other hand, have limited functionality and cannot provide good performance on all devices.

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A messenger that will attract many users is best made available on different operating systems and devices. Maybe it’s worth making versions not only for iOS and Android but also for the web.

User interface

Chat is a universal user interface that should be understood by both children and your grandmother. After all, how will the communication go if it is difficult to figure out how to find a chat and where to write a message. The design of the messenger should be simple, minimalistic and familiar. Browse through the dozens of chat interface designs available online to get inspired and determine which colors, fonts, buttons to use. Also, explore the design of popular apps on the market.    

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Messaging technology

You should know about 2 methods of data transfer. Both of them include a client-server path. In the first method, messages pass through the server using the HTTPS protocol and are stored there. The second Client-to-client method involves the only authentication on the server, while messages are sent from user to user and encrypted.  


Take care of a strong and sophisticated backend, because any application is based on it. In the first stages of developing a messenger, it is necessary to plan and implement the project architecture. When you create a chat app, you must understand that it will need to process and store a large amount of data, including text messages, videos, images and various types of files. The main functionality of the app and the server part includes the infrastructure: APIs, databases, storage servers, messaging protocols, etc. Experts in this field will help you to correctly structure and select the technologies.

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Creating an app, you, of course, would like to make money from it. You can turn the application into money using monetization. So you can keep your company afloat and offer users even more options in the future. Here are some ways to monetize your messenger:

  • Advertising. The main rule for this method of monetization is not to overload chats with ads. Users should feel comfortable using the application. Advertising should not be too annoying and take up a lot of space on the screen.
  • Subscription. You can add a monthly fee with which users can access additional features, such as calls within the application, calls to regular phone numbers (for example, as in Viber Out), disabling ads, and others.
  • In-app purchases. You can make a profit by providing the opportunity to buy additional content, such as sets of stickers, themes, games, chatbots, etc.
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Messenger cost

Depending on the size of the project, the number of platforms, features, and design, the cost can start from $50,000 to $80,000 and exceed $240,000. These are approximate values, the cost is calculated individually for each application.

Also with the deadlines; it all depends on your plans. A simple application with basic functions can take from 3 to 5 months, while a multifunctional serious project can take 9 months or more. Do not forget that the work does not end with development, the project also needs to be improved and maintained, and this is additional time and money.

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Final words

Now you have an idea of how much work should be done for creating your favorite chat apps. As always, we advise you to start with analytics and defining project functions and also pay enough attention to design.

You should not just copy existing messengers since such a chat app won’t attract customers. The best solution is to create a new application with unique features that will differ from WhatsApp and other popular projects. Be original and don’t be afraid to start a business!