Snapchat Clone, or How to Make an App Like SnapChat
Most of us love to communicate and express our feelings emotionally. Happily, Snapchat provides us with such a great opportunity. And its efforts to please us were highly appreciated: according to statistics (Statista, spring 2017), the service has become very popular among American teenagers, it has overtaken even Instagram and Twitter. No wonder so many businesses are thinking about how to make an app like Snapchat - the program which has won users' hearts with its disappearing photos and 10-second video spots.
Refusing to advertise their company until 2015 and rejecting two major purchase offers (from Google and Facebook), the Snapchat founders managed to exceed all expectations when their application had reached 7 billion daily views (as of January 2016). And if earlier Snapchat's goal was to earn $100 million a year, now they're getting about $ 100,000 per day.
But what is Snapchat and how does it work? Is it even possible to emulate its success?
Yeah, you have a chance to create an app like Snapchat if you follow our tips. Read on to find out all the details.
Briefly about a Snapchat app
In fact, Snapchat was devised as an application aimed at sharing photos and videos. The idea turned out to be successful, and the service won the favor of the younger generation. Moreover, today a lot of smart businessmen are willing to have their own photo-sharing apps like Snapchat.
It's easy to understand why entrepreneurs envy the SnapChat owners, the main reason is a good and reliable source of earnings. But why is Snapchat so appealing to users? What is the Snapchat app?
Using it, one can send to friends so-called "snaps”: photos and videos supplemented with unusual effects. The service seems too simple but such an impression is obviously misleading; there should be determinable causes leading to SnapChat's high popularity, don’t you agree? But what are they?
The uniqueness of the Snapchat mobile app
In order to build an app like Snapchat, we should find out what is so unique about it.
Evidently, its uniqueness lies in the fact that users themselves set a time limit indicating how long recipients can view the material being sent (up to ten seconds). After the specified time, the snap is automatically deleted. With the Stories, the situation is slightly different: users enjoy the media content for no more than 24 hours. But again, it's the top time, and then a Story is being self-destroyed.
Such an approach significantly reduces the risk that the media content would be illegally distributed on the Internet. It means you may exchange the most original, even strange, and bold pictures with your friends and be sure they are the only ones who see these frames.
It’s a great idea, which arouses the admiration of the Snapchat app's users. They really appreciate the maximum privacy and security of their personal space and the possibility of self-realization without unnecessary restrictions.
As you see, without self-destructive messages, Snapchat would never have become so popular. Of course, today many messaging applications implement a similar feature, but they are nothing more than Snapchat clones. Snapchat was the first one of its kind, that's why it managed to attract an audience of youngsters. And, as experience shows, this very audience is able to provide explosive growth in the number of active users.
For years, we thought everything that goes on the Internet remains online forever. Snapchat has swum against the stream and so succeeded.
We don’t recommend creating a Snapchat clone, namely, completely copying the application in question. The right decision would be to make its better and improved version.
To make a new app like Snapchat, you need to know the history of its creation first. It is quite impressive, by the way, and worth being thoroughly read.
So, the Snapchat’s journey began in 2011, when the students of Stanford University (namely, Evan Thomas Spiegel, Bob Murphy, and Frank Reggie Brown) decided to implement an unusual idea within the framework of the educational project: an instant messenger whose content would be "burned" in 10 seconds after being opened (overviewed, read, etc).
The starting point was the words of Frank Brown who once mentioned it would be great if the photos he was sending to his girlfriend could disappear after viewing. Evan Spiegel, hearing his statement, decided the idea was worth considering.
At first, the creators of the service didn’t realize how popular Snapchat would be, and they didn’t think instant messaging app development would lead to such a profitable business. A curious detail: the original project's name was Pictaboo.
Since early summer 2011, the guys had been working on an application (only the iOS version). The famous logo of the instant messenger was drawn by Spiegel himself, and since then the recognizable ghost-resembling symbol has hardly been changed.
The Pictaboo project had been launched in July 2011, and in the first month only 127 users registered in the service.
However, in August 2011, the scarcity of the audience was the lesser of the problems of developers who were quarreling because of the shares in the newly formed company. Subsequently, the litigation between the "founding fathers" had been lasting until 2014, when a solution satisfying all parties to the process was found.
As you see, the beginning of the story was not very enthusiastic or promising... and if the application creators had given up the idea, they wouldn’t have achieved anything. So if you want to build an app like Snapchat, always remember: success loves perseverance.
In the fall of 2011, Spiegel and Murphy renamed Pictaboo to Snapchat, and rebranding played an important role. In just a couple of weeks, the audience of the messenger had grown to a thousand users. At the same time, the further fate of Snapchat had been determined: its main audience included high-school kids exchanging self-destructing messages during the lessons.
In April 2012, the Snapchat audience was already 100 thousand users. The company needed new servers, so the developers attracted the first investment of $485 thousand from the Lightspeed Venture Partners.
It doesn't matter if you don’t have the opportunity to attract investments, it’s quite natural at first. And it doesn’t mean you cannot create an app like Snapchat. Just follow the lead of Snapchat and start small. If you succeed, investors would let you know, you'll definitely hear from them.
Competition as an incentive
In December 2012, the Android version of Snapchat was finally released. By that time the application had already been widely known. Even The New York Times wrote about it.
The success seemed to be a foregone conclusion. But it was in December 2012 that Snapchat had found itself in great danger. The thing is Mark Zuckerberg took a fancy to such a successful project. In early December, he personally met with Spiegel and Murphy and offered them about $ 3 billion (wanting to buy their messenger, of course). Developers denied the Facebook creator, and on December 21 of the same year, M. Zuckerberg launched his own app like Snapchat (named Poke).
According to Spiegel, this was similar to both revenge and mockery. Nevertheless, Zuckerberg overestimated his strength. Contrary to the expectations of Facebook analysts, Poke wasn’t popular, and Snapchat continued to grow. A powerful competitor seemed to have stimulated the owners of the service to surpass themselves.
In the end, the Facebook founder played into SnapChat owners’ hands. Instead of creating an app similar to Snapchat, Zuckerberg only made the rival more popular and in higher demand.
Why did it happen? It's hard to judge, but we might guess…
understanding the needs of the audience. Being the first who managed to interest the youth audience, the service was able to offer exactly what the youngsters need;
user-friendly interface. Appealing UI/UX design is always half the success;
perseverance, especially when there is a dangerous opponent. Competition usually increases the go-go spirit and sharpens ingenuity. The FB owner was certainly overly confident in himself and therefore failed.
So if you want to make an app like Snapchat, be sure to study your user in and out and offer him the fulfillment of his dreams. And, of course, pay great attention to each stage of the mobile app development process (but the development issue we'll discuss in detail later).
Whatever advantage (in comparison with Poke) Snapchat has, it worked. By February 2013, the messenger had been processing 60 million messages daily. By May, the indicator had grown to 150 million. And today Snapchat's audience is more than 100 million users, the number of messages processed goes to billions, and even world-famous giants are willing to invest in the company.
We hope you are inspired by our little story and ready to make every effort to figure out how to develop an app like Snapchat. And we'll be happy to assist.
Snapchat and its hallmarks
Any successful project has its own hallmarks, Snapchat included. And these hallmarks helped the service capture all users’ hearts and surpass Facebook and its Poke program.
Let's study SnapChat’s distinctive signs, such knowledge would help us develop a messenger app of the same kind.
#1. Snapchat is terribly popular with young people
Yes, we’ve already talked about it, but such a factor cannot be ignored when speaking of SnapChat's character.
The application is being used daily by 158 million people; every day they're sending about 2.5 billion snaps - photos or short videos. A typical user opens Snapchat 18 times a day.
And the main app audience is from 18 to 34 years old. The most active users are those under 25 years old - they visit Snapchat more than twenty times a day and spend about half an hour on the application.
So, your rule number one: wanna create an app similar to Snapchat, try to find your niche, we mean - define a unique Target Audience.
#2. Snapchat isn’t a social network
In the IPO application, Snap Inc calls itself the "Camera Company", and Snapchat stands for "Camera Application" (not an instant messenger or social network). In the future, Snap Inc intends to continue work on products based on the use of the camera.
According to the company, images taken on the phone camera transmit more personal information than any text message can do.
Perhaps that's why Snap Inc wants to deal not only with the Snapchat app but also with related products (such as Spectacles: glasses with a built-in camera that are being sold all over America).
What is the conclusion? It’s rather simple: everyone who wants to succeed in creating a Snapchat clone shouldn't put all his eggs in one basket. I.e., don’t limit yourself to just a mobile service. Continually expand, and do your best to find a new approach to the old issue.
#3. Snap Inc isn’t a small company
The company employs 1,859 people, 600 of them started their careers in Snap Inc in 2016. And Snap Inc has no intention to stop at this. Later on, the company would be expanded both through direct hiring and through the purchase of start-ups.
Do you want to make an app like Snapchat? Prepare to be unable to manage all the problems on your own, you’ll definitely need helpers, they are also employees of your company. Of course, this is a matter of the future. In the end, the Snapchat founders began to work on their project when there were only three of them, and a large corporation was only a dream.
#4. Baseball also matters
When Snapchat started to show explosive rates of its growth, large corporations and companies decided to attract such a social outburst for the sake of financial gain.
Among striking examples is this one: large American sports associations, such as America's top baseball league (MLB), began adding Snapchat symbols to the logos of their baseball teams to draw the attention of Snapchat users. Players post their ten-second videos which represent their team, striving to improve the level of interaction with loyal fans. Well, it is beneficial to Snap Inc too, as a source of additional income.
What does it mean in your particular case? Look for different ways to monetize your Snapchat clone. Though, we’ll discuss the monetization issue a little later.
#5. Celebrities contribute to the Snapchat's success
World celebrities decided to support the popularity of Snapchat too. Famous public figures such as Kylie Jenner and DJ Khaled have about 10 million followers and 3.5 million daily views. They’re not only getting good amounts of money from corporations to advertise their products (in their personal accounts), but they're also winning fans' hearts (and Snapchat sees the increasing demand for its services either).
The idea to interest celebrities in your mobile service is related to tasks of increased complexity, but if you succeed, you can safely assume you've managed to build an app like Snapchat.
How does Snapchat work?
Do you want to know how to create an app like Snapchat? First, you should understand its functioning principle.
Snapchat works equally well on both iOS and Android platforms. It's really easy to use, just follow these steps:
download the application;
register and pick up a nickname;
add your friends;
create a snap (photo or video) and edit it if necessary (by swiping left and right);
set the time during which the media would be active for viewing;
add a caption;
send the snap to your friend(s) or make it a part of your Story
In addition, Snap allows you to communicate with friends (by swiping right from the home screen) and view their Stories (by swiping left from the home screen)
Snapchat monetization strategy
And now let's explore Snapchat’s monetization model - these insights would be useful when we start building our own profit-making strategy.
As we’ve already said, Snapchat earns through financial investments of large companies which advertise themselves through this application. Say, in 2016, well-known brands (among them are Marriott International, PepsiCo, and Amazon.com) had paid $ 1 million each to have their promos running on Snapchat during Super Bowl.
Excellent profit, right? Such sums of money make one think about how to develop an app like Snapchat.
And we cannot forget about other sources of its income: for example, only one use of special "lenses" branded under Gatorade (a series of isotonic cocktails, belonging to PepsiCo) brings Snapchat about $450,000- $750,000 each day. According to statistics, the video filter has already been used more than 200 million times.
In general, Evan Spiegel singled out three main monetization items in the company's business model: camera, content, and communication. And you had better figure them out if you really look forward to creating a Snapchat clone.
Okay, let’s see…
Monetization of the camera interface. Snapchat has created a service with paid branded geofilters being offered to individuals and companies. A good example: before the release of the movie "X-Men: Apocalypse", its creators ordered Snapchat branded X-Men filters. Also, in the course of this advertising campaign, app users could purchase movie tickets in the sticker section, which opened up opportunities for online trading.
Monetization of media content. In January 2015, Snapchat launched a new feature named Discovery. It allows large media corporations to broadcast their content to users who love watching videos.
However, we’ll talk about these two features a bit later, when discussing the app functionality and explaining how to work with Snapchat filters.
Monetization of communication. The last - and least understandable - area of Snapchat business is communication. At the moment, Snapchat doesn’t offer companies a way to communicate directly with customers using the popular chat feature, although such an option should exist. And since you want to make an app like Snapchat, it sounds good, right?
Just one example: Messenger and WhatsApp (both owned by Facebook) introduced products, which allow companies to communicate with customers through these services, which is convenient for both parties.
We know little about Snapchat's plans, but the fact that Spiegel mentions communication as an item of the business model suggests the company wants to monetize the popular feature at some point. So let’s wait and see, time will tell.
And if you’re seriously interested in creating an app similar Snapchat, you should see what Snap Inc has achieved in this regard.
On March 2, 2017, Snap Inc placed its shares on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The starting price before the opening of the auction was $ 17 per share. The stock price at the close of the exchange was $ 24.48 per share - 44% higher than the originally announced price. Thus, the capitalization of Snap has been about $ 34 billion.
It seems to be an impressive indicator, especially when you consider that the company began its work in mid-2011. Just compare: Facebook took six years to reach a profit of $1 billion, and Twitter took eight years to do the same.
Snapchat earns about $ 5.8 per US user per year.
Nevertheless, the effect of recent measures to monetize the service is still showing itself, and the main successes are only ahead. So, thinking to develop a messenger app like Snapchat, be patient and wait, your time must come.
At the end of 2016, the number of daily active users of Snapchat was 158 million.
The cost of one user is thus $ 215.
Your monetization options
In the future, if you manage to popularize your photo-sharing app like Snapchat, the problem of profit would resolve itself. Large companies would fight for the chance to promote themselves with your help. Well, until then, you still have to resort to more standard ways to earn money:
A freemium model, a widely known way to monetize an application. And the prevalence of such a method is the basis to be confident in its effectiveness. Therefore, when creating a Snapchat clone, think about creating free basic functionality and providing an improved paid version (a kind of monthly subscription).
Paid features, a variation of the previous option. Though, instead of offering a monthly subscription, we provide users with the possibility to buy the feature they appreciated from the "luxury" list.
Built-in purchases. These purchases may include stickers or other interesting options, try to come up with a bright and even bold idea. If in time you succeed as the app owner (we mean, if you manage to make a face-filter app like Snapchat), eminent corporations will pay you to create branded packets of stickers (with advertising purposes in mind). But it's in the lap of the future, it's not, in fact, today's issues. So, initially, your audience is regular users who would be happy to diversify their communication process with beautiful paid "smiley faces".
In-app ads. Well, you cannot do without advertising, especially at first. But don’t make it the only revenue item, it's best to combine such a method of monetization with a freemium model. And remember: paid users should enjoy the custom features of Snapchat without annoying ads.
So you have a choice: to monetize an app like Snapchat does or find your own way to make money (by choosing one of the above options)... do as you see fit, just remember: you have not only to offset your messenger app development costs but also realize a profit.
Features of the Snapchat app
Of course, it would also be advisable to learn the basic features of such a famous program. Perhaps, some of them you’ll use (by adopting!) when working on the Snapchat clone script.
Well, that's it, right? This is Snapchat’s key feature that made the program so popular. Users really enjoy the process of exchanging cool self-destructing snaps (videos or photos) and appreciate the possibility to edit their media messages with a variety of interesting filters. If you want to build an app like Snapchat, think about a few interesting and, preferably, unique features able to make your service special.
Of course, Snapchat is more associated with various unusual photo effects, rather than text messages. And we, in the first place, think about creating a program with cool filters (like the ones the Snapchat app has), without attaching importance to the textual component of the communication process: in the end, it’s so boring and so obvious! But, on the other hand, Snapchat couldn’t ignore the exchange of ordinary text messages either because some users might prefer a common way to communicate. And Snapchat is smart enough to meet all possible customer needs including this one.
The main difference is the self-destruction of messages immediately after reading. If you’ve opened a friend's video but didn’t hear anything (or didn’t read the text), then you have no second chance to find out what was there. By the way, the highest form of recognition in Snapchat is the screenshot of your message (which you will learn about thanks to the notification). In Snapchat, it is a kind of way to "like" the message (for lack of another one).
But there is one life hack: you can hold a finger on the message to protect it from disappearing, the message would exist until you release it from your “patronage”.
As you see, Snapchat owners managed to find a unique approach even in such a simple case! It makes you wonder, especially if you want to take the initiative and create an app like Snapchat.
Boring text messages are in the past. Most chat applications offer users a lot of bright stickers which really improve any online communication. And Snapchat is no exception. Take care of a set of funny stickers too if you’re interested in the issue of how to develop an app like Snapchat.
By the by, as you remember, Snap Inc earns through stickers, and this company is not the only one. Viber also offers branded packages of paid stickers to its users.
Lenses are an excellent feature to raise one’s spirits. You’re offered a choice of 7 lenses (which, in fact, are types of amusing animations), which you can overlay on your snap to get a funny effect. Lenses are constantly changing but the total number remains the same: there are exactly seven of them.
As you should remember, Snapchat owners are taking advantage of such a feature to get a profit by allowing companies to create their own unique Lenses.
Remember! You cannot apply Lenses effects to photos, which have already been taken. You need to activate the feature before taking a picture.
The feature also provides a set of filters, but you’re allowed to use them only in accordance with your geolocation. The user can supplement his snap with a certain pattern available in a particular location.
Again, as we’ve already said, this is not just a successful feature, but a feature able to bring you money. Here is a good example: McDonald's offers its own geofilters which visitors may enjoy while spending time in any of its fast-food institutions. Of course, Snapchat gets its profit too (and McDonald's owners are strengthening interaction with customers, so it's a classic win-win situation).
#6. Search for friends
The ability to find a friend is another kind of the Snapchat geolocation feature (geofilters are also based on the user's location data)
It seems to be a simple and common feature, but Snapchat has managed to surprise us even in this case. It offers us several ways to add new friends including a few original options (besides the standard adding friends by name):
Add Nearby. You can add as friends those people who are in your location right now (of course, if they have a similar available Add Nearby feature).
Snapcodes. An increasingly popular way of adding friends is to provide them with your unique Snapcode (you’ll find it on your app home screen). Someone can scan your code with his phone camera, and then easily add you as his new friend (and vice versa!).
If you want to get a new app like Snapchat, follow its strategy, namely, look for a new approach to old issues.
#7. Video/Audio calls
The feature is rather new and available since the 2.0 version. And Snapchat, as always, tries to meet all the needs of users: say, you can communicate (via a video call) and send snaps simultaneously.
The story is about the snaps collection, which lives only a day (24 hours). Being available to all your friends, the story can be reviewed as many times as one likes.
For users, viewing the story might be the most exciting thing. They can either watch videos and pictures during the specified time or just touch the screen and move on to the next item. And you, as the author, have a possibility to check those who have overviewed your pieces. Also, you can decompose your story into video spots or download them all in one file.
Other similar apps have such a feature too, as you probably know (among them are Instagram and even Facebook). Why not follow their example? It’s not so bad idea if you want to create an app like Snapchat.
The Discover section is a kind of media catalog which contains interesting news about famous companies (eg, Cosmo or CNN). An important nuance: the editorial teams pay Snapchat for viewing their materials, so all posts provide us with the top information and are well designed.
You should also consider such a method of making a profit if you want to make an app like Snapchat.
Snapcash is a fairly new app feature, which allows users to make different payments. You can trust Snapcash because it only cooperates with the most secure mobile payment systems.
We’ve figured out basic features to create an app like Snapchat of your own. And now it’s time to take a look at the next important issue, namely…
How to develop an app like Snapchat
As we already understand, apps like Snapchat should be a communication tool, which ensures a variety of services to express our emotions including stickers, media content sharing, and so on.
Therefore, when considering the simplest way to make an app like Snapchat, analyze the following points:
think about what format of communication you want to offer and what features your app should provide;
make a list of requirements (there are your future features);
decide which platforms your application will run on. The ideal option is to make sure your service is compatible with any device. But if you have a limited budget, then you can start by building a Snapchat clone for Android (or Snapchat mobile app working only with iOS devices). If you remember, that's what Snapchat did: the company created the Android app not earlier than 2012.
find a development team capable of implementing your project at the proper level;
think about ways to monetize an app like Snapchat. We’ve described your options if you remember.
hire marketers and an app support team.
Now let's consider the typical instant messaging app development process:
Research. The goal of the 1st stage is to find the solution best fitting your company, your project budget, and expectations.
Documentation. Now it is important to prepare the draft and sign a contract formulating all the conditions for your future cooperation.
Prototyping. Experts should present the prototype which includes the wireframes of each app screen and the detailed user flow and discuss the details until getting ultimate approval from you.
UI/UX Design. Probably, you’ve often noticed that any app similar to Snapchat has a clean, beautiful, intuitive, user-friendly interface. So the UI/UX stage is really significant.
Coding. This is it, right? Yes, this is the very moment when the developers are actually creating a Snapchat clone. The idea which was just a dream becomes a real working service, a possible source of your income.
Quality Assurance. QA team has to conduct a set of app testing activities in order to find and eradicate technical errors and ensure the high quality of the final product.
Release, the last, but also a significant stage of messaging app development. And it is very important to make sure your Snapchat clone is published as soon as it is ready.
How much does it cost to build an app like Snapchat?
Among other things, you are probably interested in the Snapchat development cost, so that you could draw up your budget.
How much should you pay to make a Snapchat clone (Android, iOS)? If you ask such a question to developers, you are unlikely to get an unambiguous answer. And this is natural because software development is a complex process. Nevertheless, the company named Gigster which is the link between developers and customers has recently published a price list estimating the cost to build well-known mobile services (including Snapchat). But we must warn you: these are very approximate estimates, and they only relate to minimally viable products.
And a similar application for Android will cost 20% cheaper:
In general, the cost of a particular mobile service depends on how much time developers spend on creating it.
The speed of building an app is affected by the level of its complexity. The money amounts indicated by Gigster suggest that experts have spent six to ten weeks on mobile development. Of course, an application with the full functionality would be 3-4 times more expensive than a minimally viable product is, according to Gigster. And its development would require 3-4 months more.
But the above estimation is given by Gigster. The drawback of such an approach is the fact that developer rates are not taken into account. American experts are asking for much more money than the Ukrainian ones do, which means the cost of creating a Snapchat clone is going to be significantly different. Fortunately, there is another pricing option.
So let's develop some new approaches to the issue. What factors does pricing depend on?
#1. The cost of the development team
It all depends on the rate of the team you’ve chosen, in other words, how much they require per hour of their work. If you're limited in money, don’t focus on the promoted companies. Find developers with a decent portfolio and a moderate rate.
iOS and Android developers;
And now let's talk about how much developers charge for their services (depending on location):
USA, Canada, Great Britain: from $ 150 per hour;
Western Europe: $ 80-150 per hour, sometimes more (depending on the size of the company);
Eastern Europe: $ 25-80 per hour, sometimes higher. The price divergence is also due to the size of the agency. For instance, small firms (which employ only a few people) ask for up to $ 35 per hour, medium-sized agencies have a rate of $ 35-50 per hour, while large companies require even higher rates.
India: from $ 15 per hour, rarely above $ 50.
You can start by creating an MVP model which will have the most important features:
registration, media content sharing, text messages
The development of such an application requires 300 to 700 hours.
But if you want to make an app like Snapchat, with full and complex functionality, your developers would need from 1200 to 1600 hours. Of course, the more time, the higher the cost.
If you hope to build an app like Snapchat, a successful one, you need to start a powerful advertising campaign. We think you know quite well that it needs a great deal of money, even if you limit yourself to promotion on social networks.
To make a profit, good chat apps must be alive and updatable. Willing or not, you'll have to invest in constant app support. Take this factor into account when planning your budget.
App support means:
adding new features
testing the service for trouble-free operation
correction of possible errors
As you see, Snapchat mobile apps require a qualified approach to the development process. We’re ready to offer our professional services. We’ll create a modern application with a laconic and beautiful design, the app able to appeal to users. The basis of our confidence is a huge experience, great expertise, and impressive portfolio.