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How to Create a Messaging App Like WhatsApp?
Almost every smart device user today is using one type of messaging app or another. Many new ones are coming up here and there, as well. Well, you can cash in on the instant messaging app craze and make your own messaging app like the popular WhatsApp. In this article, we shall walk you through the procedure of creating a chat application like WhatsApp and also try to analyze what it takes to get the app up and running. We will provide a WhatsApp similar application template so you can better understand how the app works.
Data from SimilarWeb, web analytics, and market intelligence company, shows that apps in the messaging category have the highest number of downloads in over 150 countries. Statista Statistics website reported that there are 2 billion instant messaging app users in the world. The statistics authority website also forecasts that this number will increase to 2.5 billion by 2021. This means that a third of the global population will be using IM apps by then. Although there are myriads of messaging platforms that compete in the market, WhatsApp is the dominant IM app with more than 1.3 billion users.
Want to know how to make an app like WhatsApp? Continue reading to know more about how to create a WhatsApp clone app.
How to create a WhatsApp Clone?
When instant messaging applications emerged at the turn of the century, they either took the form of chatrooms such as Yahoo Messenger or VoiceOverIP like Skype. As time goes on, developers unified calls and chat into a single app and started adding more features. WhatsApp introduced the video call feature into its app, and the IM industry suddenly came alive with many other novel features.
The open API for messaging apps emerged, then masks, bots, statuses, payment methods, public chat channels, and many other features. However, platforms that have massive users find it difficult to add novel features or make major changes in structure. For instance, Major players such as Whatapp did not include API or chatbot in their platform.
So let’s come back to creating our messaging app. The most difficult task in creating a Whatsapp similar application in Android and iOS is the development architecture. It is essential to develop the app in a way that additional features could be added to the platform without causing complications.
The concept of messaging app development should not focus on creating the required features alone. A foundation for incorporating features in other existing apps should be laid. The app should also be able to accommodate innovations that may be required in the future.
What are the WhatsApp Features to Consider?
More often than not, the messaging apps end up performing more functions than they were originally intended to achieve. When you take a closer look at messaging applications like WhatsApp, you will come to appreciate the additional functions that enhanced its simplicity and usability.
Some of these features include:
- Messaging status such as pending, sent, delivered, and read.
- Copying and pasting messages on the chat app interface.
- Repaying audio messages, quoting messages, starting a thread, forwarding messages,
- Deleting messages from chat history, either locally or at the recipient end, as well.
- Sending of stickers and emojis
- Searching message history
- Deleting dialogues
- Storage of conversation locally
- Disable /enable notification for messages.
- Using an in-built editor to enhance images before sending,
- Sending and opening file attachments,
- Compression of attachments before sending to reduce the file size
- Importing contacts from the address book into messages
- Sending geolocation to signal your location
- Reading of QR codes
Many of these functions are the mere basics that free messaging apps provide to their users. Others include features such as payment, integration with booking services, ticketing, hotel reservations, payment of bills, subscription services, and many more.
To create a messaging app, you must first determine the exact requirements and functions that the messenger app needs. This method gives you the fu picture of the tasks ahead before facing it headlong.
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The Architecture of a WhatsApp Clone Application
Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophisticati0n
When technically designing a chatting application, which is by default driven to multiple simultaneous users, simplicity must be the focus of the architecture as it directly impacts on the most essential aspect of user experience: speed. Keeping your data structures simple, storing only what is needed, and only when needed will result in faster calls, faster responses, and overall perception of a very fast, responsive app.
So ideally, your messages should be stored in a very simple class, which then can be inherited to most complex designs, such as support to image files, video files, audio files, geographic location, and more. You should keep in mind that over 80 to 90% of your general traffic will be text messages, with 10% to 20% of more complex messages, so if you optimize for those 80 to 90%, you might save a lot of traffic, storage, and time.
With that in mind, one of the very worse enemies of speed when transiting data is over-querying. Over-querying is the process of retrieving more data than you actually need in a determined moment. For instance, if you need to show the user’s name and photo, but you retrieved along with the name and the photo, the age, the address, and the general profile but you are not using none of that extra data, you just over-queried and transited quite a lot more data, which costed you more financially and took more time.
That is exactly why optimizing your queries can help, and using technologies such as GraphQL can greatly improve that scenario while keeping your app maintainable over time.
A good example can be seen with these GraphQL queries:
- The first one retrieved only the user’s name and photo.
- The second one retrieved the full user’s data.
The good part about it is that you only had to develop one single class and can query in runtime the data that you specifically need. This avoids over-querying, making your app much faster and responsive while keeping a smaller payload (a.k.a. smaller data transfer costs) at no extra costs in development. If you design an optimized class for your messages, keeping its structure clean, and use technologies such as GraphQL to avoid over-querying, your app will mostly be fine.
Flexibility, scalability, and testability
One of the critical aspects of messaging application development is to accommodate scalability without undermining the flexibility and testability of the app. That is why it is vital to design the system architecture into autonomous layers. After that, the business logic, presentation, and data objects should be created in such a way that changing one will not undermine the function of the others. The idea is to create a foundation for scalability; both the code and infrastructure should be easily scalable.
A BaaS – Backend as a Service platform can be beneficial in terms of scalability. Outsourcing server-side architecture to a third party will simplify the app development and remove the hassles of running and maintaining servers. To know more about how a BaaS can help you scale your app, please read the article below:
More often than not, developers of chat applications try to base their development platform on a popular programming language. After building the app, they eventually realize that the language, platform, or services and libraries do not align with the demands of the application. That is why it is essential to consider the benefits and demerits of any language to be used for development purposes. The best approach is to use the platform that is most adaptable for building an effective system. Going after the trending programming language or platform is an erroneous approach.
Handling heavy leads and scaling userbase
One of the vital aspects of creating a Whatsapp like app is to establish the architecture, then tweak the business logic to align with it. Unfortunately, platforms built with such an approach crumble under heavy load. So, the best tactic is to establish the business logic of the whole system and build an architecture that works with it. This method makes the addition of new features a breeze and also expedites the project cycle. That is how to build robust systems that will not degrade in performance under heavy load.
It is crucial to be mindful of the needs of various users around the world. For instance, the speed of internet connectivity varies extensively in various locations around the world. Some users might need to work without internet connectivity, while some may have very slow connectivity. The user device may switch from WiFi to mobile connectivity and roam from one base station to another. However, the user is not concerned about all the technical hassles. All the user wants is to be able to use the app to send and receive messages, get notifications, and receive messages automatically when the connection is restored.
Therefore, it is vital to adjust the software platform to perform optimally whether there is internet access or not, whether the connectivity is excellent or poor. Take time to test issues relating to reconnection and access to data while working in offline mode.
WhatsApp Clone: Make sure you focus on UI and UX
The application interface should not be complicated. The user does not have to resort to using a tutorial, or tooltip to use the features of the chat program. The user interface of a messaging app should be straightforward: just select the user and start chatting! In this respect, the best approach to enhance simplicity in design is to adopt an all-inclusive native design, principle, and technology. The end result will be a predictable user interface and convenient user experience. This approach shows familiar elements to the user, so they start using them intuitively without asking questions. The following are crucial things to consider while working on the user interface of the chat application:
- Create empty states of different sections of the app where there is no activity yet. Make sure the user understands the appropriate action to take.
- Create a user-feedback mechanism: Some features in an instant messaging app will not take place instantaneously. For example, when a user is downloading files, there will be a time lag before the download completes. It is vital to keep the user informed about the activity taking place before it completes.
- Do extensive application testing: Since the messaging application is used all the time, chances are high that the app will be used in unpredictable conditions. That is why you should carry out the app testing under all imaginable conditions. Let the user be at the center of your testing and focus on solving the challenges that may arise under different conditions. For instance, you can alert the mobile user regarding data usage while sending large files on the mobile internet. These small features are important to the user and may inspire them to stick with your app for messaging.
- Display all errors when they occur:
- Do not leave the user wondering what happened to the app. Display all errors on the application interface as they occur. For instance, when the internet connection is lost, inform the user so they can realize why messaging is not sending. It is also essential not to disable user actions because of an error. In a scenario where the connection is lost, you may still allow the user to send messages and queue them up for delivery when the connection is restored. Put yourself in the shoes of the application user and think about what you can do to make life easier for your application users. For instance, features like search, access to history, downloaded pictures, videos, etc. are all important.
- A replay of audio messages is another important feature that your application users will appreciate. Moreover, the user should be able to listen to their audio messages before and after sending them. When the need arises, the user should be able to rectify errors and delete messages. It is essential to make extensive fine-tuning of all these and many other aspects of the application to launch a successful mobile messaging app.
Privacy and Security
First things, first! Please make sure you meet legal requirements in terms of privacy and security! The most common examples are the European GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation, the US HIPPA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Brazilian LGPD – Lei Geral de Protecao de Dados, and others.
For example, at its core, the General Data Protection Regulation is meant to fundamentally reshape how personal data are collected and processed by giving all individuals living in the European Union (or the greater European Economic Area) new rights to access and control their data on the Internet. So, if your app is going to process data from EU citizens, please make sure you comply with GDPR requirements. In this situation, a BaaS – Backend as a Service will facilitate the compliance process. GDPR privacy requirements are pretty complex, and the implementation will demand a lot of engineering effort. Outsourcing this implementation to the backend as a service company makes a lot of sense in special for small to medium projects. To know more about how a BaaS can help you with GDPR, please read the page below:
It is vital to dedicate resources to establish excellent security for your app. Right now, the procedure of scanning traffic on a network and reading unencrypted data is common knowledge available on the internet. So, harboring flaws on your app puts both your reputation and the personal communication of your app users at risk.
To build a secure WhatsApp clone app, your development team must safeguard the privacy of user data, ensuring that it is safe from hackers. Communication between the users of the messaging platform must also be encrypted with SSL. In some cases, embracing complete user anonymity is also essential. Your platform can decide not to store any user-identifiable information such as phone numbers.
The procedure for implementing these security features is better said than done. For instance, there ought to be a means of identification (e.g., phone number, email, name, etc.) so the user can know the person that is chatting from the other end. To avoid this bottleneck, the developer can choose to use a one-time cipher available for everyone and usable only once. A workaround for a public chat can allow the organizer to create a one-time “key” and use it to invite participants.
Many features can be applied to improve the security and privacy of the users of your hat platform. Think about innovative ways to block the present loopholes in existing apps. For instance, what is the use of encrypted messages when the user can take the screenshot and share it? What about encrypted notifications that display on top of a locked screen? Some recent innovative security features include self-destructive messages that only display for a predefined period. Although these security innovations are countless, you can simply implement the important ones immediately. More security features can be added to the app based on user feedback.
What are the differences between iOS and Android?
If you take a closer look, you will realize that some features such as eMoji are different between the Android and iOS versions of the same app. This is because iOS has a standard keyboard in place for users of Apple devices, while Android has not standardized its keyboard yet. That is why you need to add a new button to the interface of the client app to house stickers and eMoji. Emoji incompatibility is just one out of the many other significant differences between the two platforms. For instance, video recording and playback on the two platforms use different codecs. A video recorded on Android may not play on iOS devices if it is not converted. The workaround is that the chat server changes the format of the video so it can work for both platforms.
How much cost to create a clone WhatsApp app?
The amount will vary depending on the features you will demand and your development provider’s hourly rate. In the USA, the hourly rate will cost in most cases will cost more than $100, but you will be able to find more affordable rates if you consider offshore development. The article How Much Does It Cost to Create An App Like WhatsApp provides more granular information about this topic, and it’s worth reading.
The procedure of developing a messaging application is complicated, only experienced developers should delve into WhatsApp app development. WhatsApp like apps could be tested extensively using multiple yardsticks and client environment scenarios. Chat applications are complex. Therefore, developers should choose the right tools right from the onset to enhance the success of the chat application project. Besides, this approach allows scalability without undermining existing features or degrading the app performance.
What are WhatsApp features?
These are the most important features to consider on your WhatsApp clone application.
– Message status
– Copy and Paste messages
– Audio messages
– Quote messages
– Starting a thread
– Forward messages
– Delete messages
– Send stickers / emojis
– Search message history
– Send file attachments,
– Import contacts
– Send geolocation