Video conferencing

How to Make a Messaging Application?

14 January 2022 • 26 min read
How to Make a Messaging Application?
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Slava Ivanov
Slava Ivanov
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Now everyone can instantly send a message via smartphone to almost anyone in the world. Until recently, we all could only dream of this. And now, people are not only actively using text messages, but also voice and video ones, as well as audio and video calls. Perhaps someday, we’ll see a holographic version of this miracle becoming a part of our daily lives.

In the meantime, almost everyone has access to instant messaging. Now, three out of four people already have smartphones, and this group is steadily growing.

tNumber of smartphone users from 2016 to 2021ext

Source: Statista

Users download different messaging applications for remote communication. Moreover, they can use several of these products. But which ones? According to Statista, as of October 2021, WhatsApp is the most popular texting app with two billion monthly users. Its audience is significantly larger than its closest competitors: Facebook Messenger, WeChat, QQ, and Telegram.

Most popular global mobile messenger apps

Source: Statista

Perhaps you, too, want to create a startup that will become one of the most popular in the world. But how? We have prepared a guide for you to help you figure out how to make a texting app.

You will learn about key features, messaging app technology stack, and successful Softermii’s cases. In addition, you will become familiar with the challenges you may face during the development of your project.

Is That a Good Idea to Create a Messaging App?

Application development and promotion are lengthy processes that require a lot of resources and time. For example, WhatsApp appeared in 2009 and has grown four times (from 500 million to two billion) over the past 6-7 years, becoming the market leader. In addition, the developers created this application when the messaging apps market was beginning to develop.

WhatsApp reaches 2 billion active users

Source: Statista

But the situation is completely different in the United States, where users prefer Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp is already in 5th place. Hence, we recommend defining your target audience before starting product development. It would be helpful to identify all competitors in the regions where you plan to launch your application.

The most popular chat apps in the US

Source: Statista

Besides, you need to know how many people use smartphones in each country, as these are your potential customers. For example, about a third of the population is without gadgets in China.

Penetration rate of smartphones in selected countries in 2020

Source: Statista

We also noticed many texting apps on the market, but not all of them suit business usage or specific needs. Yes, there is Slack, where only company employees can communicate. This way, they won't be distracted by other users if they work on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. Therefore, we recommend that you decide for what purpose you want to create an application.

In addition, you can be 100% sure of your future product, but it is better to confirm this with facts. How? Read our guide, “How to Validate Your App Idea and Build a Successful Solution.”

Must-Have Functionality of Messaging App

What should your messaging app be able to do, and how to ensure this? Based on our experience, the development of your messaging app project consists of the following steps:

  1. Building an MVP with basic functionality
  2. MVP testing
  3. Enhancing MVP with additional features as you scale

This approach will help you save time and money in building your project. We will talk about the stages of creating a messaging app in the following blocks. And now we are going to present to you key features for your future product.

1. Authorization

Authorization in a messaging application

You may start your project with this feature. It can also be critical to the success of your application. Why? If users find it uncomfortable to log into your texting app, they may be forever disappointed in it.

Authorization should be user-friendly and with as few clicks as possible. It would help if you considered that now users are very demanding and it's easy to disappoint them. Therefore, we recommend that you offer people the easiest solution for logging in to your app through:

  • Social media account
  • Phone number
  • Email

Pay attention to how this function looks by your competitors. Perhaps you can do a better one.

2. Messaging & Group Chats

Messaging is a key feature of your future application and works over the Internet. You can add statuses to messages:

  • Delivered
  • Failed
  • Seen
  • Edited

Statuses help people understand the state of their messages. You can also make it so that one user sees that another user is writing something to him. What's more, your developers can enhance this functionality with voice and video messages. All these features help to make your application user-friendly and enjoyable for people.

Additionally, your developers can add group chats where users can invite other people to communicate together. You can also implement this feature in several ways where the messages are passed

  • Through the server
  • From user-to-user

3. File Storage & Exchange

Files storage and exchange in a messaging application

It would be great if your product provides records of a chat so that people can access all the content in the application from any gadget after authorization. For example, a user lost their smartphone and bought a new one, but they still have access to their chats in your application.

You can also add file sharing functionality to your product:

  • Photos / pictures / screenshots
  • Video
  • Song
  • Document
  • Presentation

People can grab these files from their gadgets gallery. They can also take photos and videos from your app to send to friends immediately.

4. Video and Voice calls

Video and voice calls in a messaging application

The convenience of your application also depends on the availability of additional communication channels. You can add audio and video calls that will improve the interactions between your users. They will hear and see each other. This feature is an excellent free analog of a regular mobile network.

In addition, people can use calls in your product for different purposes:

  • Сommunication between relatives and friends
  • Interview
  • Meeting of team members in the company
  • Business meeting

5. Contacts Import

Contacts import in a messaging application

Phone contacts should be imported into the messaging application automatically. Then users can see their acquaintances who also downloaded your application. But that's not all. We recommend paying attention to Telegram, where users can send invitations to their friends. This feature will help you increase the popularity of your product for free.

6. Locations

Location feature in a messaging application

Not all texting apps have this feature. But why may you add it to your project? Users can share their location with friends:

  • to find each other
  • show where a bus stop, shop, office, apartment, or whatever is

Moreover, you can add the ability to build a route from the current point to the endpoint.

7. Push Notifications

Push notifications in a messaging application

Push notifications also improve people's interactions within your product. This feature helps users know when they receive new messages in the app. Moreover, if the messages are small, users can read them on their smartphones without opening them.

Messaging App Tech Stack

Now, let’s move on to the technical part of building a messaging app. Your developers might find it useful!

1. Architecture

Components of chat application infrastructure

A chat application infrastructure has two main components: a chat client and a chat server.

The chat client is responsible for interacting with the operating system (with the user's computer, browser, or smartphone) and includes the following:

  • Storing messages and files
  • Sending push notifications
  • Displaying data to the user

When the user clicks Send in the app, the chat client sends the message to another component: the chat server.

The chat server represents a server or multiple servers with databases, software, and frameworks, required for the chat application to work. These servers are responsible for the following processes:

  1. Safe message reception
  2. Determining the correct recipient
  3. Enqueuing a message
  4. Forwarding the message to the recipient's chat client

2. Communication Protocols

You may also choose a communication protocol for your project. It is a set of rules that allow two or more devices to exchange data. A communication protocol provides a seamless and low-latency connection between all chat participants. Below we will briefly review their main options.

Extensible Messaging Presence Protocol (XMPP)

You can use XMPP for near real-time instant messaging and presence information. The protocol supports the transfer of text messages, voice, video, and files over the network. This protocol can be easily extended or modified depending on the needs of your project. We recommend that you note that XMPP does not provide message delivery confirmation by default, so developers must manually configure this.

Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT)

Some developers may use MQTT to communicate between clients and servers. It works over TCP / IP and supports secure connections over TLS. We recommend that you note that Message Brokers for MQTT can complicate your internal development. This protocol is also not optimal in terms of architecture and performance.

WebSockets

This is a secure protocol, which enables continuous bi-directional communication between clients and servers. Once the connection is established, the server and the client exchange data without requests from the client. The data is sent to the client as soon as it arrives at the server. In addition, this protocol consumes less traffic and delivers messages faster than the other protocols mentioned above.

3. Programming Languages for Chat Apps

We understand that you first want to create a mobile version of a custom messaging app. Therefore, you need people to use your product on the operating system you want (iOS and Android). We also recommend that you think about the functioning of the application for the web.

Front-end Languages

  • JavaScript (web, iOS, and Android)
  • Swift (iOS)
  • Kotlin (Android)

Swift and Kotlin also require additional codebases for creating a cross-platform chat app.

Back-end Languages

  • PHP
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • Scala
  • Erlang

You may also consider which framework (React, Vue.js, Angular) and infrastructure (AWS) might be right for your application.

4. Audio & Video Processing

You may decide how all media files and messages will be processed in the back-end of your messaging application. Most likely, they will compress audio and video files and create previews of photos and pictures. You can do this processing on both the client and server sides.

5. Security

Making an encrypted messenger is a complex process, and dealing with users’ data requires responsibility and compliance. And we recommend that you follow these security recommendations:

  • Comply with GDPR requirements
  • Use TLS/SSL protocols for any type of client-server connection
  • Use end-to-end encryption for message content using asymmetric cryptography algorithms
  • Use a private network for infrastructure deployment
  • Connect a user’s profile to a unique phone number and implement two-factor authentication using SMS
  • Back up everything

How Much Does It Cost To Build a Messaging App?

Each project is unique in its way and has its development price. In addition, you need to decide what you will create: MVP or full version of a messaging application. Consequently, the messaging app development cost may depend on the following components:

  • Launch date
  • Number of functions
  • Software development methodology
  • The geographic location of the software vendor
  • Type of software provider (outsourcing company, in-house team, freelancers)

Next, we will show you the key steps in messaging app development. You will see the approximate prices and times for each stage.

1. Discovery phase, Estimation & Research, UI/UX Design

Time: 60h

Cost: $2 400

This stage is conducted to make a thorough analysis of your business concept to understand the requirements that your product would need. During this stage you should choose the team for a development, define essential and optional features, convey market research, and build a prototype. After completing this discovery phase, you will have a greater understanding of your core objectives, audience, scope, and challenges.

2. Development

Time: 240h

Cost: $9 600

Messenger app developers build architecture, link databases to data flow, and more. At the same time, our UX / UI designers create the interface for each application platform (design messaging application). We also add synchronization with the cloud, making the overall user experience better. Next, we will consider the basic and additional features separately. Functions # 1-7 are suitable for MVP development, and functions # 1-10 are suitable for the full version.

1. Authorization

Make authorization in your application user-friendly. We recommend adding the following login options: social media account, phone number, and Email.

2. Messaging & Group Chats

You can add statuses in text messages for users' convenience: delivered, failed, seen, and edited. Besides, you can integrate voice and video messages into your application.

3. File Storage & Exchange

Files Storage makes life much easier for people as they can log into your application with all kinds of gadgets and access their files. And Files Exchange helps users send and receive pictures, documents, and videos.

4. Video and Voice Сalls

Nowadays, it isn't easy to surprise users with an application that only exchanges messages. Therefore, we recommend adding this feature, which makes communication much better and increases interest in your product. Developers can add a small questionnaire to assess video and sound quality after the call ends.

5. Contacts Import

This feature is very useful for users. They install your app, which imports the names and phone numbers from their smartphones of people who also downloaded your product.

6. Locations

Two friends have made an appointment, and they can use your application if either of them does not know the meeting place. How? The user sends their geolocation in the application to their friend, who can build a route to them.

7. Push Notifications

Users plan to use the messaging app for personal and business purposes. And they want to receive notifications from important chats. In addition, you can add the option to mute some chats.

8. Chatbots

Chatbots work inside the application and allow you to collaborate with different companies. Business owners can add the option to pay for their services without the involvement of a sales manager. What's more, big companies can use chatbots to support their customers 24/7.

9. Mobile payments

This feature can be paired with chatbots and expands the capabilities of your application for both business owners and buyers.

10. Streaming

Streaming allows users to share data simultaneously with several users (Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook). The latest app is used by some people to stream the way they play games.

Read also: How to Launch an App Similar to Snapchat

You should know that other functions can be in the messaging application. We have shown only the basic and a few additional ones.

3. Testing & Launch

Time: 40h

Cost: $1 600

Our development team checks your application to see if everything is working correctly. Then we fix bugs if they appear. Our professionals show you the final version of the product and approve it. Next, we launch your application to the market.

4. Support

You can contact our team for the ongoing support of your application. Or you need to make a full version of the app with MVP or updates. We will help you maintain your project. In addition, our team makes sure that the app is updated as needed and that it runs smoothly.

Time: 20h

Cost: $800

# Stages Time Cost MVP Full version

1

Discovery Phase, Estimation & Research, UI/UX Design

60h

$2 400

2

Development

240h

$9 600

2.1

Authorization

10h

$400

2.2

Messaging & Group Chats

40h

$1 600

2.3

Files Storage & Exchange

20h

$800

2.4

Video and Voice calls

40h

$1 600

2.5

Contacts Import

10h

$400

2.6

Locations

10h

$400

2.7

Push Notifications

20h

$800

2.8

Chatbots

20h

$800

2.9

Mobile payments

30h

$1 200

2.10

Streaming

40h

$1 600

3

Testing & Launch

40h

$1 600

4

Support

20h

$800

Total

600h

$24 000

Softermii Logo

Do you want to know your messaging application's quote and development time? Contact our Softermii team, and we will help you.

Softermii Messaging App Experience

Our professionals have solid experience in real-time messaging app development, where we use the latest technologies. And we are going to tell you about our successful cases.

Polyfish

Polyfish is a video messaging app for learning languages

Our team created a video messaging application Polyfish for learning languages.

Challenge

We needed to combine text messaging functionality and video chat while maintaining a high data transfer speed.

Solution

We managed to develop the application in two months. Moreover, our team created the interface user-friendly. Users can practice languages through speaking: choose languages and topics.

Tiddle

Tiddle is a messaging app that offers unlimited SMS texting and chatting with anyone in the world

We developed a texting app Tiddle that offers unlimited SMS texting and chatting with anyone in the world.

Challenge

Our team had to create a simple, clear, and friendly interface. Besides, we needed to provide special data protection for this app.

Solution

Our messenger app developers implemented all the app functionality, and our designers created an interface with a light, clear look and feel. Besides, users don't spend much time signing up: the app immediately syncs all the contacts via phone number. And Tiddle works without advertising.

Challenges of Building a Custom Messaging App

We warn you that you may encounter different challenges while developing your application. Therefore, you should pay attention to them.

Security

We recommend that you think about the safety of your product before starting to create it. Why? People want to use secure en communication solutions, and the lack of encryption will not lead to the application's success. Your developers need to use encryption so that sensitive or personal information is transmitted clearly over the Internet. You can analyze popular messaging apps as their methods work at the top.

Problems with positioning

Your marketers need to shape your brand for your application so that customers understand where it ranks. They can highlight how you differentiate yourself from your competitors. This is a rather complicated process since there are many messaging applications on the market now, and it will be quite difficult for you to get out of their shadow. What's more, once your brand is firmly established, repositioning it can become difficult. It would help if you also decided what you are creating: Slack, Instagram, Facebook, or WhatsApp.

Overwhelming functionality

You have a great idea for an application to solve important user needs. But your project has many different features. They are all important, but they can also negatively impact the user experience due to their excessive number. What then is to be done? UX/UI designers can help with this. They can create a simple and pleasant interface.

Make an Instant Messaging App

As you can see, the messaging application market has been actively developing lately, and this trend has intensified even after Covid-19. Also, the number of smartphone users is increasing every year. Hence, you can develop your unique application.

We recommend that you validate your idea and determine the size of your project (MVP or full version). Also, you may face different challenges before starting the application development. In addition, you need to determine how you will position your new brand.

Our development team at Softermii has provided full-cycle mobile and web development services to clients from various industries. We can create a messenger app from scratch to fit your business needs and market expectations.

We have a dedicated team consisting of Project Managers, Business Analysts, UI/UX Designers, Mobile App Developers (iOS & Android), and Quality Assurance Engineers.

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