How much does it cost to develop an app like WhatsApp?

Mobile App Development, On-demand App Development

In late 2009, the world was introduced to a simple smartphone application which someday was to grow up to become an online community of over 1 billion users. Whatsapp, when it started, was nothing but a simple tool to post status updates and moods. The initial version didn’t possess the revolutionary chatting system which changed the social media game forever. Till then, Facebook had dominated the social media spectrum as an undisputed king. But when Whatsapp launched its chat option and people were able to just simply communicate with each other without having to go through their profile walls and be irritated with their neverending status updates and posts, everything changed.

Now people had means to chat with their friends, distant relatives, any time of the day. And once people had gotten the taste of this idea and the ease that it brought along with itself, they couldn’t get enough of it. And that created a severe demand of more such apps. This was the beginning of the second phase of the social media revolution. In the past decade, along with Whatsapp, many other apps have done well for themselves in the market. But still, Whatsapp rules the market with 1.5 billion monthly users, as reported by Statista.

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Now some of you might think if it is even possible to beat Whatsapps in its own game? The harsh truth is, it’s not; not right away anyways. You need to understand that Whatsapp has been 9 years into making, and it has jumped through a lot of hoops and has made many changes in its business model and has gone through a major acquisition to be what it is today. So naturally, if you need to compete in the market it, you’ve got your work cut out for you. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t do it; nothing is impossible in this world, all it takes is planning and ability to persevere. And if you think you have what it takes to stand in the market, then we are here to give you an idea about how much making an app is going to cost you.

Clearing up the Fog

Now before we begin with this article, there are some common misconceptions, which if you’re new in the development market then you probably possess, that need to go. But if you have been in the market for a while, then we believe that you’re already familiar with the fact that the cost of mobile app development varies from development firm to firm and most of them charge on an hourly basis. That is the reason why the price of the app development process can change drastically on the basis of the mobile app development firm, the type of firm (offshore, onshore, etc. ), and the quality of their work. And while there are no fix stats available anywhere, Statista did research back in 2015 which provided a median hourly rate of companies in some of the top IT markets in the world. The key findings of the report were as follows-

India- $10-80/hr

Eastern Europe- $20-100/hr

Western Europe- $40-120/hr

UK- $60-150/hr

North America- $60-250/hr

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Another thing that you need to understand before you step into the deep waters of the app development game is that though Whatsapp is a chatting app, apart from the messenger feature it has a myriad of other features which you will need to put in your app as well to compete with it in the market. And granted that Whatsapp adopted them over the years, but that cannot serve as an excuse for you since now people will compare you with what Whatsapp is today and you cannot come off as an inferior product.

(Also we will only be talking about the development of a native app for just one platform and the testing phase has not been included in the list)

1. Basic Messenger Feature

A secure and easy one-to-one and group chatting feature will be the core part of your messaging app. Users need to be assured that their chats will not be tapped into by anyone else. You will need to bring in various user-end features to the chat system alone. Starting from the message received, to message sent message read alerts, a way to create a group and include various options to handle it, etc. So needless to say that a lot of manpower and hours will need to be invested into this feature.

Apart from the chats, nowadays people want to have a repository of cool stickers which they can exchange with each other during chats. They have become insanely popular in the past few years, and Whatsapp has recently added them to its app as well. So make sure you don’t miss out on that.

Apart from the front-end, you will need to create a back-end infrastructure to manage messages. First of all, the messages need to be encrypted so that no one else can spy on your users. Then you will need a server where you could save those messages for the users. But this doesn’t need to be permanent. Like Whatsapp, what you can do is save a message up until the receiver reads it and then delete it from your servers and then what happens with that message, ceases to be your responsibility. But if you want to keep track of the messages, you are more than allowed to do that.

The Time Required-

Using 3rd party plugins-

Front end+Backend: 145hrs

Without using 3rd party plugins-

Front end+Backend: 218hrs

2. Registration and Contacts list

Another crucial part of a messaging app is an hiccup-free registration process. Rather than using a password, Whatsapp uses your phone number to sign you up, thus preventing you from having to pick a password. Furthermore, it lets you choose whatever name you want to choose for your profile, and the same is the case with your profile picture, too. An SMS-authorization process finishes the registration process.

Whatsapp then goes through your phone’s contact list and cross-references it with its own data and sees how many of those numbers that you have on your mobile are attached to a Whatsapp account in their database. The hits are then put into your contacts list, and you’re allowed to send any of them a message.

The Time Required-

Using 3rd party plugins:

Front end+Backend: 32hrs

Without using 3rd party plugins:

Front end+Backend: 54hrs

3. Notifications

This feature is objectively essential for all apps. They are an excellent alert tool which allows your users to know when they have received a message or have just been added to a new group. Whatsapp only shows you push notifications in the previously mentioned scenarios.

Apart from that, you can find different uses for Push Notifications in your app as well. Like when a contact shares a new status or changes his profile picture, etc.  

The Time Required-

Using 3rd party plugins:

Frontend+Backend: 18hrs

Without using 3rd party plugins:

Frontend+Backend: 26hrs

4. Multimedia Transmission

Whatsapp, along with many other social media apps of the same nature, allows its users to send various media files in their chats. From small voice messages to documents, images even short videos, all of them can be shared in a chat. This has become something of a common feature nowadays since most of the apps in the market have them and also customers have come to expect this feature out of every social media app as well. So it is necessary that you add this feature in your app, too.

The Time Required-banner_300x250

Using 3rd party plugins:

Frontend+Backend: 18hrs

Without using 3rd party plugins:

Frontend+Backend: 32hrs

 

5. Contact sharing

This little feature allows a user to share a contact in his contact list with others. This could be for the sake of sharing the contacts of a mutual friend, or a work friend or anything else of the same nature. This saves the trouble a user had to go through before when he had to type in the number to share it with others manually.

The Time Required-

Using 3rd party plugins:

Frontend+Backend: 12hrs

Without using 3rd party plugins:

Frontend+Backend: 74hrs

6. Voice Calling

A few years ago, this feature was not as crucial for a social media app as it is now. It allows you to call anyone in your contact list, no matter their location, and it is absolutely free. Whatsapp makes use of your internet traffic rather than your data plan minutes, so it doesn’t cost you any of your calling credit. By placing a simple button on top of every chat screen, Whatsapp has allowed its users to remain connected in more than one way. In order to compete with it in the market, you cannot miss this feature. But keep in mind that it will be a lengthy process.

The Time Required-

Using 3rd party plugins:

Frontend+Backend: 60hrs

Without using 3rd party plugins:

Frontend+Backend: 220hrs

7.  Others

This portion includes everything else that makes Whatsapp what it is today. Starting with the settings of a personal account which allows users to change personal details about their accounts. Whatsapp provides its users with many privacy features like Turn Read off, or show their profile picture to only those who are added as their contacts or Block one of their contacts. Then it allows some other settings as well, like turning Notifications on and off, change their number, take backups of their chat data or customize their chats with different wallpapers etc.

The Time Required-

Using 3rd party plugins:

Frontend+Backend: 18hrs

Without using 3rd party plugins:

Frontend+Backend: 111hrs

8. UI/UX

And the final cog that you need to put into the machine is an impressive, eye soothing design and color scheme. If users find your app’s appearance off-putting, then they will soon abandon it, no matter how amazing it might be. So make sure that you get everything just right. From the colors to icons and even notifications, customize and tweak everything till you find it perfect. Another thing that needs taking care of before you’re ready to take on Whatsapp in the market is a seamless UX design. Whatsapp’s UX is one of the easiest to navigate through and effective in the market. With its swipe action feature which lets you browse between the chat list, statuses and call logs, Whatsapp has done wonders with its design.

Here is your chance to take what they have and make it better. So let your imagination run wild but don’t over do it though, you don’t want to complicate your app so much that a user struggles while using it.

The Time Required-

Using 3rd party plugins:

Frontend+Backend: 60hrs

Without using 3rd party plugins:

Frontend+Backend: 70hrs

Conclusion

Mentioned above are some of the MVP features that you need to add in your app in the beginning. Once you have put it out in the market, you can work on making it better and increasing your feature list. There are still a lot of features in the Whatsapp that makes it what it is, so start thinking about adopting them, too. And also, don’t be afraid to experiment and bring new things to the table, make this app your own.

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