How much does it cost to develop the WhatsApp-like application?

Today people spend most of the day in the vicinity of their smartphone and open Wi-Fi networks, so it is not surprising that we receive SMS from banks mostly, but for communication with friends we use various messengers. The most common of them is WhatsApp. According to Statista, monthly it is used by  1 billion people worldwide. Furthermore, WhatsApp is the most popular app in 109 countries around the world. How much does it cost to develop an app for messaging, and how to create WhatsApp? Let’s face it.  —

Statistics link

WhatsApp messenger key functions:

  • Registration, using the number of mobile phone;
  • Real-Time Events;
  • Files and images sharing;
  • Recording the voice mail;
  • Voice calls.

First, we shall take a closer look at functions, you need to create a clone of WhatsApp, and then determine the price of WhatsApp development.

Application prototype

How to make WhatsApp with a convenient design? It’s hard to miss that all modern messengers are made like a blueprint. Believe it or not but it is after users own heart: in such standard design cues are clearly separated, recent conversations are displayed at the top of the contact list, so it’s very easy to find what you need.

Here is the design of few popular apps for instant messaging:

WhatsApp WhatsApp

Viber Viber

Hangouts Hangouts

The server part

How does WhatsApp work? To allow users messages exchange, a mediator is a need that will store and transmit them. Such mediator is a server.

First, WhatsApp used the XMPP-server Ejabberd but then switched to the in-house solution. Erlang was used as the main language, but for PHP there was a place. Service stores the data using SQLite database.

Registration via the phone number

Because WhatsApp messenger and similar apps replace SMS, that we send to friends and acquaintances, they usually use a phone number (unlike apps for single ones who prefer social network). Besides, it is quite convenient: in most cases persons register from a smartphone that contains a SIM card with their number. When you check on it receives an SMS with a confirmation code.

To implement the registration via number, our server will need to send SMS messages to the numbers of users which are registered. In turn, the mobile clients having received this SMS need to read the verification code and pass it back to the server. To automate this process our developers have implemented the library.

Real-Time Events

The development of WhatsApp includes the implementation of notifications and events in real time, which is respectively UI response on. For this purpose, are used such technologies as push notifications (preferably when the application is in background or not active) and WebSocket (for the implementation of a permanent bilateral connection while the application is online). Events, such as receiving a new message and adding friends have a high priority and are transmitted on both channels (push and WebSocket) depending on the current state of the application. In its turn, the statuses «online», «print», «read», etc. are only transmitted via WebSocket and in real-time directly manage the application’s UI. Read more about the implementation of real-time events you can read in our article. Creating a corporate messenger thismo for our client, we have used:

Files and images sharing

The days when chat rooms existed solely for the exchange of text messages and emoticons, are long gone — now the users send each other photos, videos, and various links. To add a file to the chat of your application, you will need to implement several algorithms — it is so, due to differences in operating system versions and may take significant time to debug. Fortunately, our developers have realised library, which will greatly help to speed up the process.

Voicemail recording

When there is no possibility to make a call and to print all you need will take much time, the ability to record a voice message gives a helping hand. Therefore, in WhatsApp-like messenger should be implemented functions of voice recording and sending. In addition, the message should be played directly in the chat window, without opening external programs, and to have a pause and rewind. File entry is done using a standard set of OS functions. The file is then sent to the server, waiting for the moment when it will be taken by the recipient. In this case, the server is the intermediary between clients applications.

Voice calls

Voice calls, perhaps, are the most difficult and expensive task when creating an application like WhatsApp, as voice quality depends on many reasons, and most of them need to be considered and tested. You can even don’t add the voice communication at first, and do it later, as did Slack, which offers this option only to premium subscribers. For Voice over IP (VoIP) functionality WhatsApp uses PJSIP library, providing multimedia communication.

WhatsApp

Hoping, you have figured out how the WhatsApp works and what you will need to create it. Now let’s move onto more pressing issues. What will be the cost of WhatsApp, considering functions, outlined in this article?

WhatsApp development cost

Development of applications for instant messaging like WhatsApp will cost $36000:

  • Prototyping — from $3000
  • Applications development (iOS + Android) — from $18000
  • Backend — from $15000

You shouldn’t forget, also, about such WhatsApp functionality as cryptography and calls, the cost depends on the options of the implementation of this functionality.

If you need a version without voice calls, it will cost $32000. Of course, that’s the estimated cost of WhatsApp-like messenger development, and for a specific project, it can vary depending on the specifics, required technologies, etc.

Unlike Pokémon GO, WhatsApp messenger is more simple in development. But there is another problem: the market has a lot of similar solutions, Here is where niche matters. Therefore, the alternative to WhatsApp shot, you will need to find their own unique niche, such as it has made Slack. Its developers took the well-known idea, but while creating a functional, were focused exclusively on companies and small teams, who care more about corporate communications, then just a friendly chatting.

About author

Mobile Team Lead
Sasha is a team lead of our mobile development team. He conducts regular meetings for analyzing code and summarizing lessons learned that help to keep high motivation and set clear personal development goals for each of the team members.

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