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How to Create Messenger (Chat) App Like Whatsapp?

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Yuri Musienko
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Featured image for How to Create Messenger (Chat) App Like Whatsapp?

The rapid rise of social networks has provoked the massive emergence of new means of communication through messaging, video calls and other methods based on a separate application. Moreover, numerous users of social networks and all kinds of messengers not only communicate with relatives or friends around the world, but may well promote their business through messengers. Business development in the prism of such applications prompts many to wonder - how to create an application like WhatsApp.

Why did this particular application become an example to follow? According to statistics for 2020, it has become a leader among other messengers - for example, Facebook, Wechat, QQMobile, Telegram is in the last position in this rating, but everything is developing, new programs appear - and it is quite possible that the messenger you have created will soon take a leading position if users like it. In any case, for now, you should focus on WhatsApp as the best of its kind.

Most popular global mobile messenger apps as of July 2019

Most popular global mobile messenger apps as of July 2019, based on number of monthly active users (in millions)

An application similar to WhatsApp should have all the conveniences for communication between an ordinary user and a corporate client, so that you can use both personal and commercial chat. Let's take a closer look at how to create an application like WhatsApp.

Basic functions a messenger like WhatsApp should have

The development of any application requires careful preparation. To get a really good result at the output, you should immediately calculate all the components of the program so as not to miss anything. So, let's look at what should be in a messaging application

Registration possibility

This is a separate page that is shown to all new users. It is desirable that registration supports several options - automatic via popular social networks, fast via a phone number or standard via an email address. The last two involve confirmation of the contact by sending a message with a code to the mail or the entered phone number. A registered user can work with a personal account - add information, photos. It is important to provide the client with the ability to import contacts from the phone book in order to stimulate his communication with friends.

Advanced profile customization

To show their individuality, the user can be offered to customize the profile the way he wants - change the background for messages, text font, personal photo visible to all subscribers. The more options for customization, the more comfortable it will be for the user to work with the application.

Instant sending and receiving messages over the Internet

It is optimal to assign statuses to messages so that users can see all the stages of sending, receiving, reading by the addressee. All chat applications are designed to send messages, so it is difficult to stand out here, but you can organize group communication - a private, public chat with a different number of invited participants, sending certain messages or images to only a few users from a group chat, and so on.

It is also important to save messages so that users can read their chat history at any time. Storage is carried out using the cloud - so you can access your dialogue even if you lose your phone or if you accidentally delete the application from the gadget. You can also enable the convenient conversation search function. For users who communicate a lot, conduct business dialogues with many clients, this function is irreplaceable. With its help, you can find not only the desired place in the dialogue, but also the shared files

Messaging would not be complete without the ability to send voice messages. In order not to waste time writing the text, you can simply dictate it and send.

Video and audio calls

Voice and video calls provide an opportunity to see your opponent or talk to him, as on the phone. So communication looks more complete, regardless of the distance at which the callers are from each other. With a voice call, communication occurs only by voice, as when using a phone - but absolutely free via the Internet. A video call provides a visual component - a video image of the speaker. In applications for communication, like WhatsApp, group video and audio calls are also available - conferences through which more than two people can communicate at the same time.

File sharing

To demonstrate emotions or to share information, users can send pictures, stickers, gifs to each other. Paid stickers make it easy to monetize any messaging app.


This function is needed so that the user does not forget about using the application and is always aware of the events taking place there - a new message, an invitation to chat, adding to contacts, a friend online, etc. At the same time, it is important to give the user the opportunity to independently manage notifications - to enable some and disable others. This approach would be appropriate for developing a business application.

Functions that provide additional benefits

It's not hard to create a good app, it's much harder to become better than the most popular instant messengers. Standard functions are not suitable for this, you need to come up with something unusual and exclusive - like Snapchat. This application gave users the ability to send media files to each other with a short period of availability - literally a few seconds, which provoked an increase in customer activity.

As additional functions, due to which you can rise in the rating by creating your own application, you can use the following:

  • even more advanced profile settings;
  • creation of secret dialogues, which have the function of self-liquidation after a specified time;
  • the ability to schedule the sending of messages - so that, for example, not to forget to congratulate a friend on the holiday;
  • minigames for one and several users in a chat environment;
  • creation of copyright stickers;
  • inclusion of chat bots and other e-commerce tools;
  • the ability to record stories, set statuses;
  • use of secure end-to-end encryption as a communication system.
All this will help to stand out from the background of other applications, so creativity in this environment is only welcomed.

A set of tools for creating apps like WhatsApp

To start developing a messenger, you need to understand the technologies used for this on a practical level.

User recognition

To protect app users from scammers and annoying spammers, you need to take care of authentication. To do this, use the Nexmo API (recognition through a phone number) or, for example, Twitter Kit, Facebook SDK (to verify the user via social network or mail).

Instant message processing

To ensure that messages really arrive instantly without an actual delay, you can use WebSocket technology, which provides high-quality application-server communication.

Liven up the conversation with emoji

To make communication more interesting, you can add a separate emoji keyboard to the application. It will enhance emotional exchange and allow users to pass the mood, reactions and attitudes without using words.

Storing user data

To organize long-term storage of personal data of users, texts of dialogues, shared files and other information, you can use network servers such as Nginx or special databases such as PostgreSQL. You can also connect the Amazon S3 media storage service.

Audio and video calls

To provide interactive communication between application users, developers use VoIP technologies - a more convenient protocol has not yet been invented for organizing voice and video communications over the Internet.

Pop-up notifications

Notifications are needed to stimulate user activity. Depending on the platform on which the application is planned to be used, different technologies are used: on Android it is Firebase Cloud Messaging, on iOS there can be both Firebase and traditional Apple Push notifications.

Ways to monetize an app like WhatsApp

Messaging apps can generate a decent income for developers, but the way they get it varies:
  • paid subscription - a dubious option, since most competitors' messengers are free;
  • showing ads is the most common way to monetize any application, but the main thing is not to overdo it, as intrusive ads will only scare users away;
  • paid functionality - you can organize the purchase of additional functions, for example, paid stickers, games or advanced settings;
  • working with sponsors is the most pleasant option for users, with this approach they can receive certain bonuses for performing any actions from advertisers in the application.
The choice of a monetization strategy is based primarily on the number of users, the popularity of the messenger and other criteria.

What challenges might a developer of an application like WhatsApp face?

Every new instant messaging app inevitably faces obstacles when it comes to the market.
  1. How to attract new users and keep their number. The application should meet the needs of users as much as possible, be flexible and adaptable to the requirements of customers. It is also important to improve, adequately perceiving comments and criticism of users, release updates, fix bugs and stimulate the growth of the number of users with new "goodies".
  2. How to ensure security when entering personal data and exchanging messages. It is optimal to develop your own encryption method based on reliable technology. You can use blockchain or use Open Whisper Systems like WhatsApp.
  3. How to meet the growing demands of users. So that the application not only allows you to communicate, you can use it to launch other functions unusual for this type of programs - for example, payments, as is done in WeChat, games, or the ability to independently create chat bots for different purposes.
In any case, in order to solve all these problems, the developer must carefully listen to the opinions of users, monitor their activity, fix bugs and implement new technologies and capabilities.

How much time and money will it take to create an app like WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is considered a rather complex application, as over the years of its existence, it has acquired a large number of updates and improvements, so creating an application from scratch will not be cheap and labor-intensive. In general, the development cost will depend on the included functions and technologies used, in fact, as well as the operating time. Therefore, how quickly it will turn out to create such an application, it is impossible to say unequivocally - someone will cope in a month, another programmer may take a year.

The market of instant messengers is constantly growing and evolving, new applications appear, so enterprising users have every chance to try to make an application like WhatsApp - as successful, and maybe overtake it in the ranking. Such applications are the future of communication between people, mobile communication does not allow you to communicate cheaply with the whole world, while all messengers provide an opportunity for free communication at all. This is more convenient than sending SMS, and even more so than calls from a mobile, regardless of the operator.

Merehead does professional development of Messenger App. If you have questions, contact us for a free consultation.

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