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How To Make An App Like TikTok

07 October 2021 • 12 min read
How To Make An App Like TikTok
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Andrii Horiachko
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In August 2020, TikTok hit 2 billion downloads. The app has been a huge success. However, from the initial idea to a top-rated app is not an overnight process.

To develop an app like TikTok, with a worldwide user base and users who spend hours interacting with the interface is not easy. You need a great team of developers who know how to build an app with a seamless user experience and how to keep users glued to their screens.

In this article, we will share with you how you can create an app like that. This is a complete guide, with all the information you need to know about how to build an app like TikTok. We cover everything from what features you need and the tech stack that is required, to what you can expect to pay for development.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a popular video-sharing app. Short video clips are created and uploaded by users. Creators often film fun, comedy videos with musical elements, responding to challenges or incorporating humor into their content. Other users may not create content, but simply be followers. They will share their favorite content creators, or friends TikToks when they see them on their feed, adding to the social aspect of the app.

The app's primary age group is between 10-19 according to Statista. The app was designed for a new generation of mobile internet users. The focus on creating an app especially for a younger audience was part of its success. The creators saw a gap in the market. Young internet users wanted a place to explore their creativity by being able to share videos with friends.

ByteDance, the owner of TikTok app, has reported more than doubling revenue, reaching $34.3 billion in 2020, according to The Wall Street Journal.

On Thursday, the company shared with employees the main financial indicators for the past year. ByteDance representatives stated its total revenue increased by 111% compared to 2019, and the company's gross profit increased by 93% to $19 billion. It has become obvious that the app has become a standalone giant like Instagram or Snapchat that oversees future growth.

In September 2021, TikTok reached 1 billion monthly users. It's a remarkable milestone, considering the social network was launched only in August 2018. COVID-19 pandemic has definitely added fuel to the fire of TikTok's popularity, as it became the most downloaded app in the world in the first quarter of 2020 with 315 million downloads, according to app analytics company SensorTower. Reportedly, TikTok's parent company ByteDance's revenue surged 111% in 2020, and in August 2021 was valued at $425 billion.

Key Features For Building an App Like TikTok

TikTolk is a social media app. To create an app like TikTok you need to provide a seamless and enjoyable user experience and make it easy to use. It will need to include features such as following, liking, and sharing content. In addition, you need the ability to simply and quickly create and upload content.

Some key feature you for TikTok clone app development are:

Login and Signup

The most basic and necessary feature for social media apps is the ability for users to create an account. Users will have to sign up for an account to be able to share content. The more signup options you have the easier it will be for the user.

Develop a TikTok like application

The most basic option to start with would be for users to sign up with email. However it is also possible to provide a better user experience by allowing sign ups through other accounts they already have. For example, many social media accounts allow you to sign up with Facebook, or Gmail. This does make things more complicated in development by requiring implementation of Facebook and Google API.

Video Uploads

TikTok-like apps need to give users a fast and simple way to upload their videos. A user should be able to upload ready-made content straight from their device in an intuitive way that uses functions they will be familiar with.

Video Editing

A key feature of video-making apps like TikTok is video editing. Creating and editing content in the app is great for the user experience. The more impressive the video editing toolkit the better. You will want to think about adding tools such as cropping, rotating, changing playback speed, and adding effects or animations.

News Feed

A key feature involved in the success of TikTok is its News Feed Algorithm. By learning what content a user enjoys, and then showing them more of it, TikTok increases the amount of time users spend on the app.

The TikTok algorithm uses information such as user interactions with content, content details such as captions, device and account setting, and more to create a feed of content that is tailored to each user.

Filters

Filters are entwined with social media apps like TikTok. TikTok has a wide variety of filters, stickers, and effects that can be added to videos. Offering multiple unique filters is a great way to attract more users to your app.

Sharing

TikTok videos are shared over multiple social media platforms and users message them to their friends. They are viewed on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and more. Having social sharing features is a must for an app like Tiktok. It is a great way to grow your user base and make more people aware of your app. Content creators also enjoy being able to create one piece of content and then easily being able to share it with their audiences over multiple platforms.

Notifications

Keep users in the know about new content from their friends and favorite creators through notifications. Let users know when other users have interacted with their content by sharing, liking, or commenting.

Following

TikTok lets users follow their friends and content creators they enjoy. This makes it simple for them to find the content they enjoy the most, creating a better user experience and increasing the time users will spend on the app.

Liking and Commenting

TikTok and other social networks such as Instagram give users the option to like and comment on content. This increases the social aspect of the app and lets users connect with one another.

You will need to have basic features for launch but you can also think about adding additional more complex features after launch. This can include features such as geo-location, real-time analytics, and live streams. Once you already have a user base you will have greater insight into the features that users are looking for and can add these more advanced features for a better user experience.

Further updates

TikTok has presented its new advertising plan, featuring e-commerce partnerships and the launch of several new and interactive ad formats. The company has decided to expand the e-commerce partnership beyond the initial Shopify to make the user experience more native, offering the ability to go from product discovery to checkout without leaving the app. There’s even more to it – in some markets, Tik Tok even offers to cover the shipping and fulfillment as well.

Instant Page

The new ads direction aims to differentiate Tik Tok from other social media competitors. The company introduced a new product called “instant page” – a quick-loading landing page that they claim will load 11 times faster than a typical mobile website. The idea behind it is simple – when users click on an ad, they are immediately taken to a page with all the information from a brand, other videos, and additional content. And all those actions are within the Tik Tok app.

Tik Tok's new instant page feature

Pop out showcase

Another new product, “pop out showcase,” aims to make engaging with ads a more interactive experience. Advertisers get access to the library of new stickers, which, when chosen, will be superimposed on top of their TikTok videos to illustrate the products they’re demonstrating or other key story elements. To buy advertised goods, one must click on the product and be redirected to the shopping page.

Tik Tok's new advertisement features

NFT

Yet, these are not the only things Tik Tok had to present. The company that has just gained its first billion users has lined up its NFT drop, leveraging content from its top creators, including Lil Nas X, Grimes, Bella Poarch, Rudy Willingham, and Gary Vaynerchuk. The release is a limited edition and, so far, seems to be aimed at generating hype in the existing NFT community rather than exposing users inside the app to non-fungible tokens.

What Are The Challenges of Creating an App Like TikTok?

A lot goes into creating an app like TikTok. It is not a simple process and can present many challenges.

Technology You Need to Create an App Like TikTok

To build an app like TikTok, you need an extensive team of developers. An expert group of IT professionals will each take on an important role and collaborate seamlessly.

An example of the team and skills you may need to develop an app similar to TikTok includes:

iOS Android Backend
Coding Language Swift Kotlin Node.js
Networking Alamofire OkHttp3 -
Framework Texture(AsyncDisplayKit) LayoutManagerGroup Express 4
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Tech stacks differ depending on the project. However the above gives you a rough idea of what you can expect. The large team of developers, multiple coding languages needed, and variety of skills can present a challenge to development.

Finding the People With the Skills You Need to Create an App

When creating an app of this nature, companies have two avenues to explore. The first is to hire in-house and the second is to outsource to an agency and have a remote team. Each has its pros and cons.

When hiring in-house, you will find communication on the project runs smoothly. Your developers are right down the hall which can make life easy in many ways. However, the cost of hiring a large team of developers is not feasible for many budgets.

Not only salaries, but rent, equipment, taxes, and more add up to the high cost of having an employee. This can lead to hiring a smaller team and omitting certain parts of your app, or hiring less experienced developers who deliver a lower quality product.

In comparison, hiring a remote software development team or agency is a more affordable option. Often charged at an hourly rate, you are only paying for the time needed to create the app. In addition, agencies have large teams of developers who specialize in different languages and areas of development. This gives you access to a huge pool of knowledge and skills at a fraction of the cost of in-house hiring.

Hire a dedicated team for video chat app development

However, it is also important to remember agencies have other clients. This means communication often needs to be scheduled. Communication channels can be slower, though most agencies will set your expectations at the initial meeting. For example, by scheduling a weekly call and setting milestones for development where you can give feedback. Choosing the right development company for your app idea is key to success so take the time to find one who has communication methods and values that align with your own.

How Much Does It Cost To Develop An App Like TikTok?

The big question you have been asking yourself is probably around the budget. How much will it cost to turn your idea into a functioning and high-quality app?

TikTok app development cost will vary. Considerations like features and who you hire to build the app will change the final price. However below we give you a rough cost guide that you can follow.

App Feature Description Average Hours Average Cost

Login

To build a minimum viable product (MVP) you can create a login that users have one signup option of email.

80

$4,000

Profile

For an MVP users can create a simple profile with username, profile photo, and a short bio

40

$2,000

Video Editing

Video recording, flipping and adding background music.

90

$4,500

Filters

Using pre-created solutions from GitHub to create filters and effects such as color filters, face AR, time effects.

90

$4,500

Likes & Comments

Like posts and leave comments underneath

20

$1,000

Notifications

Send push notifications to users

60

$3,000

Analytics

Check data related to user accounts such as content views, profile visits, audience demographics etc.

80

$4,000

Total

460

$22,000

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This is a basic estimate of hours for only a TikTok like app development, including mobile app development and TikTok vital backend architecture. In addition to this, you will need design, integrations, complex architecture, QA, and project management. An approximation of hours needed for these elements of app creation is:

  • Design: 250+ Hours
  • QA: 115+ Hours
  • Project management: 225+ Hours
  • Additional development: 220+ Hours

The total cost of your app will depend on the developers you hire. However, you can work out an estimated cost by reviewing the average rate in various locations and multiplying them by the total number of hours calculated above.

When outsourcing development, you have multiple options and can hire from all over the world. Looking to developers from other countries to build your app can be a great cost-saving tactic, however, there are pros and cons to hiring both US or Western European developers and developers from other parts of the world.

Average rates you can expect to pay for development are:

  • USA - $150/hr
  • Ukraine - $50/hr
  • India - $20/hr

This is an approximate cost and developers may charge different rates based on experience.

You can save up to two months of development time and cost by using our vidrtc Engine. The engine incorporates the basic features of a video chat app so you could test the first MVP in 4-5 months.

Dealing With Budgetary Restraints

In the modern world, if you want a truly successful video-making app like TikTok, you need to have it available on both the Apple App Store and the Android Google Play Store. However, if you are dealing with budgetary issues, it is not unheard of for apps to launch on one store initially and the other later.

For example, Instagram originally launched on iOS and did not become available to Android users until over a year later. This saves on initial cost and also speeds up development. Android development typically takes around 20-30% longer than iOS because more devices use this operating system so it is necessary to provide support for various screen resolutions and older OS versions.

Softermii Experience in Video App Development

When you hire a development agency to create an app for you, you want to know what experience they have in building something similar. Softermii has created many apps and several of them have presented the same challenges as building an app as TikTok would.

Vidme

For example, the VidMe app we developed for Android and iOS and that has an open API. VidMe is a video-sharing app for those who love bizarre or simply interesting online videos. We designed and developed an interactive platform where users can upload videos, rank them, and even make revenue.

This Vidme app now has become very popular and a TechCrunch review remarked that the app's simple design makes it stand out among other video sharing services.

Scoby

In addition, our team built Scoby, the video conferencing app. It is an innovative audio and video conferencing application. It unites all the best conversational apps’ benchmarks and brings them to the new level.

Social video chat development — Scoby case study

The team behind the project faced numerous challenges. We had to conduct market and business analysis in order to find out how the final product should fit the market. Creating a social network app has to require modern standards in order to be competitive, viral, and meaningful.

Working on these projects and others have helped our dedicated team hone their skills in video app development and mean we could confidently deliver a TikTok-like app that would be a hit with your users.

To Sum Up

Following the above guide makes creating a TikTok app easier than you might think. Taking the time to think about the features your audience needs and understanding the challenges and skills that go into development will allow you to set realistic expectations about budgets and timeframes needed to create the features you are looking for.

Finding the right video chat app developers will help you have peace of mind, knowing they can tackle any of the technical issues. With your vision and the technical skills behind you, you can create an app like TikTok, that your audience will fall in love with.

Softermii has a wealth of experience in creating video apps. We have developed a social networking app with video chat - Scoby. If you have an exciting new project in mind, we can work with you to build your vision. Contact us for a free consultation.

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