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Telegram has about a billion users worldwide and is one of the most popular applications for messaging. This messenger offers secure data communication, a straightforward interface, no censorship, and many other powerful functions. This article will tell you what makes Telegram better compared with the competitors and how you can develop an analog.
Why is Telegram popular?
Understanding why the application is famous and which functions and technical features helped stand out in a hyper-competitive market of messaging applications where WhatsApp and FM dominated is the key to developing an app like Telegram.
After installing the Telegram, the users see a straightforward and understandable application design. It is intuitive, even if the user has never before had a messenger.
End-to-end message encryption.
The other reason for Telegram’s fame is the high-end security measures. Pavel Durov is so sure about the security of his application that he offers 200 thousand dollars to those who will manage to hack the security. Fortunately, no one has done it yet. So, what makes Telegram so protected?
The native Telegram protocol MTProto encrypts the messages in Telegram. The protocol combines 2048-bit RSA encryption, 256-bit symmetric AES encryption, and the Diffie protocol of Hellman's key exchange. WhatsApp encrypts all messages end-to-end, while Telegram offers the users the ‘Secret chat’ option to decide which chats they want to encrypt.
The functioning of message encryption on Telegram. Source
Secret Telegram chats are not stored in a cloud. They can be viewed only on those devices that launched the conversation. Furthermore, you cannot resend a message from the secret chat; the other user will receive a notification if you screenshot the secret chat. However, if another device takes a photo of the discussion, there will be no notifications.
Application Programming Interface.
Telegram allows other developers to use the API to create their applications. If you intend to develop a messenger like Telegram, you can use this API. However, there are some limitations. Those APIs can’t be employed if your company will have an IPO and plans to draw massive investment since the Telegram team believes it will create conflict and provoke privacy threats.
Open source code.
Another advantage of Telegram is open source code. Any developer can receive the code and participate in the development and improvement processes of the application. Still, it deals only with the frontend (user part), while the backend (server part) is private. Telegram says this is one of the conditions that provide security. If the backend is open source, anyone will be able to research it and find gaps for hacker attacks and data leaks.
How to develop an application like Telegram?
The best solution to create an application like Telegram is custom development since it will provide decent security and reliability, which are the main Telegram features. The following is the application development roadmap from scratch.
Step 1: Select a business model
You should thoroughly investigate all business aspects you have to deal with before starting the development. Primarily, it will concern the nuances that appear when the messenger is on the market and attracts first users. Here are the basic principles that you must consider so that to succeed.
- Target audience. Initially, you must define the target audience and develop the application according to their needs, requirements, behavior patterns, and demography. As for Telegram, these people appreciate the privacy of their messages and do not want to be conquered. These can be people in business, citizens of authoritarian countries, and content creators censored on other platforms.
- Prime competitors. Another requirement is analyzing the target market and studying the competitors. You must see why the users like and use their application to implement it in yours, yet on a more extensive level. Furthermore, you must research what the users do not like to avoid your competitors' mistakes.
- Value proposition. If you develop a Telegram clone, you will need to come up with something that will bring the users to your application. For example, create a new function, a better encryption mechanism, or anything useful for your target audience.
- Monetization model. It is apparent that you will want your messenger to pay off after the launch. There are several monetization models: freemium, subscription, advertisements, in-app purchases, P2P payments, trading users’ metadata, etc.
- Marketing. The promotion of your application is another significant moment in drawing in new users. It will not suffice to release the application on Google Play and App Store and wait for the users to download it.
Step 2: Hire a development team
If you want your application to have a practical design and a secure and reliable workflow, then ask an experienced development company like Merehead to do the job rather than trust it to freelancers. Since 2015 our company has offered technical support for software development in e-commerce, finances, marketing, blockchain, artificial intelligence, and VR/AR industries. We are confident that we can develop a secure and reliable piece of software for instant messaging like Telegram.
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Step 3: Specify the application functions
Main Telegram function. Source
The sign-up process is the gate to your application. The success of your messenger depends on how straightforward and fast it is. Telegram employs the mobile phone number for registration in a few steps. One can also use their email to sign up. Furthermore, you may offer voice verification as WhatsApp does.
The idea of a messaging application is to deliver brief text from one user to another. This is the prime function of your application, so each detail of this process must be studied and developed thoroughly.
Voice and video chats.
- Test chat. This is the basement for the entire application. Apparently, it should be reliable. Select a font, a color scheme, and the main functions to create the test chat.
- Secret chat. These are end-to-end encrypted chats. Also, these chats get automatically deleted in a defined period.
- Message status. It will show whether your message was sent, delivered, and read.
- Canceling messages. Many modern messengers allow deleting the texts during a specific period after the users send them. Some messengers offer an option that deletes the messages five seconds after reading.
- Group chats. A super valuable function that no application for messaging can do without today.
- Moderation. Group chats require moderation and administrators to block and delete users and messages. Telegram allows limiting the number of texts from one user per a particular time (for example, one message per minute).
- Emojis. It goes without saying.
Sometimes users just don’t have enough time to type a text, so a video or audio message is an excellent alternative. In 2015 WeChat introduced this option, and Chinese users appreciated it. It is not a surprise that the function became famous worldwide.
Voice and video calls.
Many users enjoy free voice and video calls. However, implementing this function requires loads of time and effort, yet the audience will be more prominent since the application is more valuable for the users. Furthermore, you might add premium functions, like videoconferences for more than ten people or encrypted video chats.
Massive data exchange.
The users want to instantly exchange photographs, GIFs, videos, documents, and other content. Many messengers offered this opportunity, yet Telegram went further and offered to trade files up to 2 gigabytes. It is enough to send a few hours of high-quality video. Also, you could integrate with Google Drive or Dropbox using their API so that your users can import files directly.
In most cases, users share photos in messengers, and if the application has an editing tool, more files would be transferred. Hence, while developing a Telegram analog, do not forget to add this function.
Adding it to your messenger will become a platform for news, blogs, brands, and creators that use it to communicate the message to their audience. As a rule, only administrators can publish something in this type of channel, yet the users can like, comment, or offer their posts.
Integrations with social networks.
There are two reasons for integrating your application with popular social networks:
- Quick registration. The users can link their Facebook, Google, Twitter, or LinkedIn profiles during the registration. This will save time and make their life easier.
- File exchange. Some messengers, for example, Viber, offer adjustable buttons for websites that allow sharing content to the messengers.
Currently, Telegram has one of the most advanced chatbots in the industry. The chatbots have various functions, from managing finances to voicing news. Furthermore, Telegram shares its codes so that everyone can create and adjust chatbots.
It is a valuable function that informs the users of new messages, calls, files, etc., thus calling them back to the application. One can start it from scratch or use Google Cloud Messaging or Apple Push Notifications to implement this function. Anyway, it is an obligatory function for messengers.
Adjusting the settings.
The users also need to have a chance for some custom settings. For example, privacy level, means of security, etc.
- Help. The users would want to read some background information on the application and its functioning. Also, the users will need a communication channel with you, namely a support team for consulting.
- Profile setting. The users find it crucial to be able to change their nickname, avatar, and profile status.
- Account setting. It includes adjusting the privacy, authorization (means, phone number, biometrics), payment systems, and deleting the account functions.
- Notification setting. Sometimes the users find the notifications annoying; thus, they will want to change the frequency of receiving them.
Step 4: Design UX/UI interface
No matter how secure, functional, and valuable your application is, it will not become famous without an attractive user interface. Icons, colors, and fonts are the things that make users like your application.
The design development involves three stages:
- Creating a draft. Typically, a manual draft design shows only significant interface aspects.
- Creating the wireframe. These are sketches of the messenger design as it will be presented to your end-users.
- Creating an animated prototype. This is a clickable version of the wireframe; all design elements (icons, buttons, animations, transitions, etc.) function here.
Step 5: Write the backend and frontend code
An example of a messenger backend structure. Source
There are two scenarios for this step. According to the first one, a basic, minimal viable product will be developed that allows to turn up the product within a low budget and short time. This is a solution if one wants to enter the market swiftly or if there are failure risks.
The second scenario is developing a complete application with all functions, integrations, and designer solutions. This path is usually chosen when entering a highly competitive market (the messenger market is one of those markets). Because in this case, you will need to lure the audience away from your competitors. Your product must not be inferior to the best offerings on the market or stand out very firmly with some particular functions.
The technology stack for a Telegram backend clone:
The technology stack for a Telegram clone frontend:
Step 6: Test the product
Ensuring the quality of any IT product is a significant step, especially if it concerns a messenger like a Telegram that highlights security and privacy as their top priority. QA specialists must test the software code for issues to ensure that there are no vulnerabilities for hackers. Furthermore, the testers will check the compatibility, functionality, security, usability, low-resource testing, etc.
Step 7: Initiate the deployment
When the development is ready, the product will require listing on Apple App Store and Google Play. The process goes the following way:
Step 8: Get your help desk up and running
You will also need to provide a help desk that will service your users, solve any issues, and collect feedback for further improvement and growth.