How to create an app like Snapchat: a step-by-step guide

How to create an app like Snapchat: a step-by-step guide

21 December 2022 • 26 min read

Even though new messaging applications and social media keep emerging, good old Snapchat is still very popular. As of the first quarter of 2022, Snapchat has 332 million daily active users worldwide. This is an increase from the third quarter in 2021, which had 306 million.

In terms of active users, Snapchat ranks 12th in popularity worldwide, compared to the other top social media platforms. It is, however, ranked higher than platforms like Pinterest and even Twitter.

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It’s high time to launch an app similar to Snapchat.

So let's learn more about its benefits, features, technologies behind Snapchat and costs of the development based on more than seven years of Softermii’s experience in developing different types of apps of various complexity and for multiple industries.

Is it a good idea to build an app like Snapchat?

According to Statista, till the end of 2022, the number of video viewers is projected to reach 248.9 million in the US only. 9 out of 10 viewers said that they wanted to see more videos from brands and businesses, and, as of 2022, an average person is predicted to spend 100 minutes per day watching online videos.

Snapchat programming languages

According to Snap Partner Summit, an average of 5+ billion snaps are created every day. However, it comes with no surprise, as, according to Statista, as of 2022, the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to 147 minutes per day, up from 145 minutes in the previous year.

Stats prove that it’s a great idea to develop an app like Snapchat. However, the Snapchat idea originates from 2011, and even with regular updates it may be a little bit outdated. So, if you want to create an app like Snapchat, it’s better to take the original as a starting point and do some market research to find your own USP.

Features to Add to Snapchat-like App

If you’ve decided to make an app like Snapchat, the first thing to consider is what features you’d like your app to have. Let’s check all the features provided by Snapchat.

Snaps

Snaps feature in Snapchat-like app

It’s the main Snapchat feature providing the ability to take and send photos and videos. Snapchat offers a wide variety of filters, lenses, text captions, and drawings for photo/video editing. The main peculiarity of snaps is that they are self-destroyed within a few seconds.

Media editing and Lenses

Media editing and lenses features in snapchat like app

As of 2020, Snapchat users created more than a million lenses for photo and video editing. It’s the most popular Snapchat feature which is often a funny animation or AR effect that users can overlay on the top of their pics. Also, there are lots of filters, drawing tools and text captions allowing users to change the original snap in all possible ways.

Messaging

Messaging feature in Snapchat-like app

Snapchat isn’t only a photo/video sharing app, it’s also a quite popular messaging app allowing users to chat one-on-one or create groups. Additionally, Snapchat couldn’t ignore the popularity of stickers, so they add new ones with every update.

Geofilters & Location Tracking

Geofilters and location tracking features in snapchat like app

If the user allows Snapchat to track the location, then in some places it’s possible to use geofilters. They’re basically the same as original ones, however some may have peculiarities of the place.

Video and Audio Calls

Video and audio calls feature in Snapchat-like app

After becoming available, video and audio calls have become extremely popular within the Snapchat community. The distinctive feature of Snapchat’s audio and video calls is that users can send pictures at the same time as being on call. They can also make notes which are short video and audio clips.

Stories

Stories feature in Snapchat-like app

Similarly to the same Instagram feature, a story is a snap that broadcasted to all followers for 24 hours. After that it self-destructs. Users can see one story multiple times, jump from one to another in a row, or choose particular friends and check out only their stories. Also, there’s a possibility to see who has viewed the story. Since implementation, this feature has become increasingly popular, so, if you’re considering starting your Snapchat-like app development, don’t forget to add it to the features list.

Search for Friends

Search for friends feature in Snapchat like app

Snapchat has analyzed the way users add friends and follow others, and has come up with a Snapcode feature. It’s a personalized QR that users scan with their camera and immediately start to follow other users.

Discover

Discover feature in Snapchat-like app

This feature helps to find news on specific topics or from particular influencers. It provides recent news from editorial teams of big companies such as Mashable, CNN, Glamour, etc.

What are new features in Snapchat in 2022

Like every popular social network, Snapchat doesn’t fall behind on new features. Such regular updates attract new users and make old ones use the app more often. So, what new features has Snapchat added in 2022? Let’s check them out:

Snapchat+

Cost of building an app like Snapchat

In the middle of summer, Snapchat launched a subscription feature that is aimed to deliver new Snapchat features to paid members of the community and provide prioritized support. Snapchat+ is available for $3.99 a month and offers priority story replies to make paid users’ response to Stories more visible. They can also pick an emoji they want their friends to see after they view their Snaps, add special backgrounds such as gleaming gold for bitmojis, and change the look of the Snapchat icon on the home screen with unique designs. As of September 2022, more than one million users had already subscribed to Snapchat+.

Shared Stories

This feature allows users to create a custom list of friends who can view stories and contribute to them. Even those friends who have been added to the story, have the ability to add new people to the list.

Director Mode

It is a new set of camera and editing tools within Snapchat that makes it easier to create polished content, or enhance everyday moments captured with the user's camera that is aimed to enhance the viewer's attention.

Username Change

Develop an app like Snapchat

Hard to believe, but before the 2022 upgrade there was no possibility for the Snapchatters to change their username. This might be especially handy to those, who’ve been registered in Snapchat for years and would like to change their username at last. The mechanics to such change is easy – one just has to click on ‘Username’ in the ‘Settings’ menu, and then tap the ‘Change Username’ option below the username box.

Family Center

In order to give parents more control over children’s actions on the platform, Snapchat has developed a family center feature. It works as a parent control with the possibility of parents seeing who their children are communicating with on the platform and friends they are adding. Parents can also directly report any account they find suspicious to Snapchat. However, they cannot set a time limit for kids to use the app nor see what exactly the children are talking about.

New Shopping Lenses

Snapchat-like app development

This new feature allows users to shop without leaving the app. The lens feature provides users with the ability to quickly browse through multiple products via AR with all the needed info, from price to size details, provided by the seller.

Also, it has produced multiple integrations with different brands and limited product series that can be bought only through Snapchat.

Share eBay listings with friends

How to make an app like Snapchat

Another Snapchat ecommerce integration has produced a shared eBay list with friends. This feature allows users to select a listing on eBay, click on the Share icon and choose ‘Snapchat’ from the options. The Snapchat Camera opens with the automated eBay sticker, allowing users to share their listings with friends and family, and when the receiver or viewer taps the eBay sticker, they are redirected to the listing on the eBay app.

Snapchat technologies to use in your app

Apart from the actual technological stack – programming languages, frameworks and libraries – Snapchat uses multiple newest technologies for different aims. And it is good to know them and keep them in mind when you decide to create an app like Snapchat. Let’s get a closer look at them!

When we think about Snapchat, the first thing coming to mind is filters and lenses that are widely used in their videos. This technology is created with ‘Image Processing’ and ‘Facial Landmarks’- plotting points on the face and comparing it with collected data sets and active ‘Shape Modelling’ which creates a virtual face and aligns it with the actual face, using AI-powered lenses with small machine learning models.

Another popular Snapchat feature is AR try-ons. It gained extreme acclaim during the pandemic, when the sellings of products based on the “touch and feel” factor went low. And the Augmented Reality feature helps drive consumer behavior through the entire decision-making process. Snap has developed a system that allows sellers to easily upload AR versions of their real products and users can just as easily discover these on Snapchat.

As for another important part of Snapchat usage – Marketing – Snap developers created Snapchat Trends. They provide valuable insights within the Snapchat Community and come in handy for marketers, influencers, or content creators. All they need to do is tap into these insights and cater to their audience in a way that is meaningful and useful to them.

This data is often used in a number of ways, including Product Market Research, Building User Profiles, Researching Key Moments to plan a moment-based media strategy, or understanding consumer behavior regarding any particular products or services as well as those of the competitors.

Useful integrations for your app like Snapchat

Apart from their original features, Snapchat offers multiple integrations which make the usage of the app simpler, easier and as user-friendly as possible. If you’re thinking about building an app like Snapchat, consider adding such integrations to your app.

One of the most famous and used is Apple and Google Maps as it provides a place’s location which can be easily tagged in a story, but also directions to it and and even public transport information. Another popular integration is TripAdvisor, which provides info and tags about popular places plus reviews and photos submitted to TripAdvisor and its associated apps.

Among other integrations there is Adobe, Uber (including UberEats), Shazam, DoorDash, Zapier and Census for work automation, Google Tag Manager and Data Hash for Tag Managers, and those newer ones such as Strava that is integrated into a Snap camera display, facilitating new forms of engagement with user’s fitness progress.

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Snapchat-like App Tech Stack

Snapchat technology stack is very variable. Developers behind the app use a wide range of languages such as Bootstrap and Javascript for front-end development, Python for Snapchat backend architecture, as well as Objective-C (iOS), Cocoa Touch and PHP.

Amazon Web services (Route 53, CloudFront) are used for hosting, and Google Compute Engine is used to enhance the automatic scalability according to a number of users and manage the overall data storage temporarily.

NoSQL (Not Only SQL) is used as a major database in order to handle a large volume of structured data in a flexible way and superior performance that leads to building the Snapchat app.

One of other technologies used by Snapchat is from an area of Computer Vision. It's called image processing. It processes an image, and with the help of algorithms, adds layers with so-called masks.

Here’s a table of technologies used by Snapchat:

Front-end

Bootstrap
Javascript

Hosting

Amazon Web Services (Route 53, CloudFront)

Database

NoSQL
MongoDB

Android app

Java
Kotlin

iOS app

Swift
Objective-C

Frameworks & Libraries

Cocoa Touch

Bootstrap
Angular JS
JQuery
React

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Cost to Develop An App Like Snapchat

Execute Discovery

Once you've gathered a team for your software development project, you should plan it in detail. This stage means searching for the product-market fit with the definition of unique selling points, finding your target audience, and conducting the competitors' analysis.

Also, calculate the estimated cost to create an app like Snapchat and think of future app monetization too. We, at Softermii, always check with clients the set of desired features and the necessary steps to develop them. After reaching an agreement, we present the cost of the service requested.

Project scope Role Timeline Projected cost
  • Solution description
  • User Roles definition
  • App platform(s) definition
  • BRD - MVP specification
  • Accelerators definition
  • Roadmap creation

PM

BA

From 2 weeks

From 4000$

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Design

The visual attractiveness and effective functionality significantly contribute to building brand awareness. At this stage, your strategic task is to create a great product users will love.

If you want to produce a nice-looking mobile app like Snapchat, keep in touch with your development team and elaborate your creative ideas together as wireframes, mockups, and prototypes.

Project scope Role Timeline Projected cost
  • Competitors Analysis
  • Navigation concept
  • Site Map
  • Wireframes in Figma
  • Concept design of key pages
  • Dynamic Protopype in Figma

PM

Designer

From 3 weeks

From 6000$

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Development

Depending on its main purpose, you'll decide what technologies to use to implement your features. We together figure out what database to use and also what program languages and CRM. It's also critical to find out the best solution for your app realization to meet your timeline and budget, like using APIs integrations, SDKs, or building features from scratch as well.

Project scope Role Timeline Projected cost
  • Logical Architecture
  • Infrastructure Architecture
  • Tech Stack definition
  • Tech Risk and mitigation Strategy
  • Development plan creation based on BRD specification
  • Development of Mobile App
  • Development of WEB interface
  • Source Code (Unit & Component Tests)
  • RC Build
  • Tech Documentation

PM

BA

Designer

DEV

DevOPS

From 2 months

Starting from $38 000

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Testing

QA team involvement is part of a full-scale development process, which requires full-spectrum checkup and responsibility for calling a product ready for deployment. The key to success here is finding a responsive team with outstanding attention to detail and the ability to check common and non-obvious customer experience scenarios.

Project scope Role Timeline Projected cost
  • Requirements testing
  • Test Planning
  • Test Documentation preparation
  • Testing execution
  • User testing support
  • Quality Report
  • Support of feedback gathering and processing

PM

QA

From 3 weeks

From 4800$

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Softermii Experience

It isn't simple to make an app like snapchat for Android and iOS. As you must hire a team with years of experience in app development who’ll meet your expectations. At Softermii, our skilled developmental team can ensure that your concept will become a reality and that you will receive a high-performing solution.

You can be sure that we're ready to create a seamlessly working social media app as our team built Parta – 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.

Build an app better than Snapchat

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.

Another one of our social media projects is Scrollme – a social network that mainly focuses on video-sharing. It’s somewhat similar to TikTok and serves as a platform for self-expression.

In this application, our team has implemented a seamless video feed, video-sharing capabilities, private audio chat rooms, a high level of personalization, 3D avatars, and even cryptocurrency integration. Our efforts helped Scrollme get nearly two million monthly active users and over 1.3 billion video uploads.

Building an app like Snapchat

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

Ready to Make a Snapchat-like App?

Softermii developers know how to create an app for any industry and of any complexity, and we'll be glad to deliver this service for you! We provide expert management, quality assurance, and product support, so you receive a final product that you are completely satisfied with.

Contact our experts if you need more information or want to create an app like Snapchat from scratch and succeed on the market. We will work with you on every step of the app development process, starting with the foundation of your idea.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the process of Snapchat-like app development?

When it comes to Snapchat clone app development, you must decide what you will develop: MVP or full version of an app. A product development process stands for the multiple stages that a software development team takes to bring the idea of a product into reality by undergoing software product development steps.

Thus, we rely on the software development life cycle (SDLC). The procedure implies building high-quality software within the shortest possible period, in line with the 7 phases of the software development life cycle.

The development life cycle of the process to create an app like Snapchat involves:

  • the assessment of the user's needs,
  • research on customer behavior and marketplace competition,
  • creation and visualization of the roadmap,
  • concept design,
  • code development,
  • creation of a minimum viable product.
  • testing
  • creation of a full version of an app

With a seamless and well-designed SDLC process, we don't miss a thing and find the balance and the best possible solutions between different actions while developing software.

How long does it take to create an app like Snapchat?

Similar to the costs, the length of time entirely depends on various factors. On average, however, apps with a low level of complexity will take approximately three months. For a medium and high level of complexity with more features, it can take four to six months to build an app like Snapchat.

What is the Snapchat technology stack?

Developers behind the app use a wide range of languages such as Bootstrap and Javascript for front-end development, Python for Snapchat backend architecture, as well as Objective-C (iOS), Cocoa Touch and PHP.

Amazon Web services (Route 53, CloudFront) are used for hosting, and Google Compute Engine is used to enhance the automatic scalability according to a number of users and manage the overall data storage temporarily.

NoSQL (Not Only SQL) is used as a major database in order to handle a large volume of structured data in a flexible way and superior performance that leads to building the Snapchat app.

How do you ensure your Snapchat-like app is secure?

The first thing we do to provide the highest security to software solutions integrates security into the entire software development life cycle (SDLC). It enables, rather than inhibits, the delivery of high-quality, highly secure products. Also, we make sure that all the products we develop comply with all the necessary data security rules. We perform penetration testing to avoid critical errors and potential security breaches.

How much does it cost to build an app like Snapchat from scratch?

Costs can depend on many variations: product complexity, features, size, design, and time frame. The number of members in a development team can also increase or decrease the price. Assuming that your app is not overly complex and overflowing with features, it is expected that it will cost from $40,000 to $85,000. 

Do you want to know precisely how much it costs to develop a voice chat app like Snapchat? Contact our Softermii team to get to know the precise cost to develop an app like Clubhouse, and we will help you.

What programming language does Snapchat use? Should I use the same one?

If you’re wondering how to make an app like Snapchat, the first thing coming to mind is to research Snapchat programming languages. Snapchat technology stack is very variable.

Developers behind the app use a wide range of languages, frameworks and libraries such as Bootstrap, Javascript, Python, Objective-C, Cocoa Touch, PHP, Amazon Web services, NoSQL, Kotlin and Swift. However, if you want to build an app better than Snapchat, you are not obligated to use the very same teck stack. The best idea is to find a team, experienced in developing social media apps, that’ll use the best technologies on the market for seamlessly working application.

How to develop an app like Snapchat in 3 months? Is It possible?

When building an app like Snapchat, it is always better to start from MVP development. Minimum viable product will help to create a prototype that’ll be tested among real users and will give a chance to make quality market analysis before developing a full version of the product. However, if you want to create a quality MVP, it’ll take you approximately five months. But after that you'll have a ready-to-launch market product.

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