How to Make an App Like SnapChat
Most of us like to communicate and express our feelings emotionally. SnapChat provides us with this great opportunity. Well, we can say, its efforts were highly appreciated: according to statistics (Statista, spring 2017), this service has become very popular among American teenagers, it has overtaken even Instagram and Twitter. No wonder that so many businesses are wondering how to make an app like Snapchat which has won users' hearts with its disappearing photos and 10-second video spots.
Not advertising their company until 2015 and giving up two 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.
Do you want to emulate its success and create an app like Snapchat? You have a chance if you take our advice. Read this article to find out all the details.
- Briefly about the Snapchat app
- The uniqueness of the Snapchat mobile app
- Unique History
- SnapChat and its hallmarks
- How does SnapChat work?
- Features of the SnapChat app
- How to develop an app like SnapChat
- How much does it cost to build an app like SnapChat?
In fact, SnapChat was devised as an application for sharing photos and video. 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 alternatives to SnapChat - for getting profit, naturally.
It's easy to understand why entrepreneurs envy the owners of this application, 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 this app, one can send to his friends so-called "snaps" that are photos and videos supplemented with unusual effects. This kind of service seems simple but such an impression can be misleading, for there should be determinable causes leading to SnapChat's high popularity… But what is its secret? Let's see! This information would be very useful for creating an app similar SnapChat...
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 being automatically deleted. With the Stories, the situation is slightly different: in this case, users can enjoy the media content for a full 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 will be illegally distributed on the Internet. It means you can exchange the most original, even strange and bold pictures with your friends and be sure that they are the only ones who see these frames.
This great idea 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 we can see, without self-destructive messages, Snapchat would never have become so popular. Of course, today many messaging applications implement this feature, but they are nothing more than Snapchat clones. Snapchat was the first one of its kind, that's why it managed to attract the audience of youngsters. And, as experience shows, it is this audience that can provide explosive growth in the number of active users.
For many years online communication has taught people to think that everything that gets on the Internet remains there forever. Snapchat has swum against the stream and so succeeded.
We don’t recommend creating a SnapChat clone, that is, completely copy this application. We suggest that you make a better and improved version of this chatting service. And we hope our tips will help you achieve this aim.
To understand how to make an app like Snapchat, you need to know the history of its creation. 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).
As often happens, this app development was a measured response to the problem. Frank Brown once mentioned that it would be great if the photos that he was sending to his girlfriend could disappear after viewing. Evan Spiegel, hearing this statement, decided that the idea was worth considering.
At first, the creators of this service did not realize how popular Snapchat would be, and they did not think that building an app would become such a profitable business. It is also interesting that the original name of the project was Pictaboo.
Since early summer 2011, the guys had been working on an application for iOS. The famous logo of the instant messenger was drawn by Spiegel himself, and since then this recognizable ghost-like symbol has hardly been changed.
The Pictaboo project had been launched in July 2011, and in the first month only 127 users registered in this 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 of the process was found.
As you can see, the beginning of the story was not very enthusiastic... and if the application creators had given up the idea, they would not 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 this 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 the 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 do not have the opportunity to attract investments, it is quite natural at first. And this does not mean that you can not create an app like Snapchat. Just follow the lead of SnapChat and start small. If you succeed, investors will let you know, you'll definitely hear from them.
In December 2012, Android version of Snapchat was finally released. By that time the application had already been widely known. Even The New York Times managed to write 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 that Mark Zuckerberg took a fancy for such a successful project. In early December, he personally met with Spiegel and Murphy and offered them about $ 3 billion for their messenger. Developers denied the Facebook creator, so on December 21 of the same year, he launched his own application Poke which, in fact, was a Snapchat clone.
According to Spiegel, this was similar to both revenge and mockery. Nevertheless, Zuckerberg overestimated his strength. Contrary to the expectations of Facebook analysts, Poke was not popular, and Snapchat continued to grow. It seemed that the appearance of a competitor only stimulated the owners of this service to exert even more effort.
In the end, the Facebook founder played into SnapChat owners’ hands. Instead of creating a Snapchat clone of the same scale, Zuckerberg only made the rival more popular and in higher demand.
Why did it happen? It's hard for us to judge, but we can 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 this issue we'll discuss in detail later).
Whatever advantage (in comparison with Poke) SnapChat has, but it worked. By February 2013, the messenger had been processing 60 million messages daily. By May, this 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 this story and ready to make every effort to figure out how to develop an app like Snapchat. And we'll be happy to assist.
Any successful project has its own hallmarks, SnapChat included. It was these hallmarks that helped the service capture all users’ hearts and surpass Facebook and its Poke program.
Let's study SnapChat’s distinctive signs, this knowledge will help us in building an app of the same kind.
#1. Snapchat is terribly popular with young people
Yes, we have already talked about this, but such a factor cannot be ignored when speaking of the 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 ones under 25 years old - they visit Snapchat more than twenty times a day and spend for half an hour in 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 is not 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 products like Spectacles - glasses with a built-in camera that are being sold all over America.
What is the conclusion for you, the one who wants to succeed in creating a Snapchat clone? Do not put all your eggs in one basket, that is - do not limit yourself to just a mobile service. Continually expand, look for a new approach to the old issue.
#3. Snap Inc is not such a small company
The company employs 1,859 people, 600 of them started their career in Snap Inc in 2016. And Snap Inc does not intend to stop at this. Later on, the company will 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 with all the problems on your own, you will 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 is also interesting for the younger generation
When Snapchat started to show explosive rates of its growth, large corporations and companies decided to attract this social outburst for the sake of financial gain.
For example, 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 that 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 incomes.
What does this mean in your particular case? Look for different ways to monetize your Snapchat clone. This topic, however, will be discussed in more detail a little later.
#5. Celebrities contribute to the SNAPCHAT success
World celebrities also decided to support the popularity of Snapchat. Famous public figures such as Kylie Jenner and DJ Khaled have about 10 million followers and 3.5 million daily views. They not only get good amounts of money from corporations for advertising products in their accounts, they're winning fans' hearts (and Snapchat can see the increasing demand for its services either).
A task to interest celebrities in your mobile service is one of advanced complexity, but if you succeed, you can consider that you managed to build an app like Snapchat.
Do you want to know how to develop an app like SnapChat? First, you should understand the principle of its work…
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 at will (by swiping left and right);
- set the time that the media will be active for viewing;
- add a caption;
- send this 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)
As we have already said, SnapChat earns through financial investments of large companies that advertise themselves through this application. For example, in 2016, well-known brands (such as Marriott International, PepsiCo, and Amazon.com) had paid $ 1 million each to have their promos running in Snapchat during Super Bowl.
Excellent profit, right? Such sums of money make one think 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, belongs to PepsiCo) brings to Snapchat about $ 450,000- $ 750,000 each day. According to statistics, this 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. It will be useful for you to figure them out if you really look forward to creating a Snapchat clone.
As for the monetization of the camera interface, Snapchat has created a service with paid branded geofilters that are offered to individuals and companies. For 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.
As for the monetization of media content, in January 2015, Snapchat had launched a new feature named Discovery. It allows large media corporations to broadcast their content to users who like to watch videos.
However, we will talk about these two features a bit later, when discussing the functionality of the Snapchat clone in more detail.
The last - and least understandable - area of Snapchat business is communication. At the moment, Snapchat does not 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, this is good news for you either, don't you agree?
Just one example: Messenger and WhatsApp (both owned by Facebook) introduced products that 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 that the company wants to monetize this popular feature at some point. So let’s wait and see, time will tell.
And if you are seriously interested in building an app similar to 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.
This is an impressive indicator for the company which began its work in mid-2011. For comparison, Facebook took six years to reach a profit of $ 1 billion. And Twitter took eight years to do this.
Snapchat earns about $ 5.8 per a 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 create a Snapchat clone, be patient and wait for your time.
At the end of 2016, the number of daily active users of Snapchat was 158 million. The cost of one user is thus $ 215.
In the future, if you succeed in building the app that has gained great popularity, it will be easier for you to solve the problem of making a profit. Large companies will 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. This is a widely known way to monetize an application. And it is the prevalence of this method that suggests that such an approach may well work. Therefore, when creating a Snapchat clone, think about making a free basic functionality and offering an enhanced version for a certain monthly subscription.
- Paid features. This is a variation of the previous option, only in this case instead of offering a monthly subscription, we provide users with the possibility to buy the feature they liked from the "luxury" list.
- Built-in purchases. These purchases can include stickers or other interesting options, anything that comes to your mind. If in time you succeed as the app owner (that is, if you figure out how to make an app like Snapchat), eminent corporations will want to pay you for creating branded packets of stickers (for advertising purposes). But it's in the lap of the future, it's not, in fact, today's issues. So, initially, your audience will be regular users who’d like to diversify their communication process with beautiful paid "smiley faces".
- In-app ads. Well, you can not do without advertising, especially at first. But do not make it the only revenue item, it's best to combine this method of monetization with a freemium model. And remember that paid users should enjoy apps like Snapchat without annoying ads.
Of course, it will be also advisable to learn the basic features of this famous mobile service. Perhaps, some of them you can use (by adapting!) when creating a SnapChat clone.
Well, that's it, right? This very feature has made SnapChat 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 that will make your service special.
Of course, SnapChat can’t ignore the exchange of ordinary text messages, for somebody prefers this way to communicate. And SnapChat is smart enough to meet all possible user needs including this one.
The main difference is the self-destruction of messages immediately after reading. If you have opened a friend's video but did not hear anything (or did not read the text), then you do not have a 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 this service, it is a kind of way to "like" your 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 will exist until you release it from your “patronage”.
As you can see, SnapChat owners managed to find a unique approach even in such a simple case! This set one thinking, especially if you want to take up the lead and create an app similar to Snapchat.
Boring text messages are in the past. Most chat applications offer users a lot of bright stickers that really improve any online communication. And SnapChat is no exception. Take care of a set of funny stickers too if you are interested in the issue of how to develop an app like SnapChat.
By the way, as you remember, Snap Inc earns with the help of such a feature, and this company is not the only one. Viber also offers branded packages of paid stickers to its users.
This is an excellent feature to raise one’s spirits. You are offered a choice of 7 lenses (which, in fact, are types of amusing animations) that 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 this feature to get 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 this feature before taking a picture. And, of course, it is best suited for processing selfies. Yes, SnapChat is one of the coolest selfie filter apps. But maybe you’ll be the one who can surpass its success?
This feature also provides a set of filters, but you can use them only in accordance with your geolocation. The user has a possibility to supplement his snap with a certain pattern that is available in particular location.
Again, as we have already said, this is not just a successful feature, this is a feature that can bring you money. For example, McDonald's offers its own geofilters which visitors can enjoy while in a fast food institution. Of course, SnapChat gets its profit thanks to this (and McDonald's owners are strengthening interaction with customers, so it's a classic win-win situation).
Building an app, take advantage of the geolocation factor too. It's very popular today.
#6. Search for friends
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 which can be found 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 an alternative Snapchat, follow its strategy, that is, look for a new approach to old issues.
#7. Video/Audio calls
This is one of the new features (available since 2.0 version). And SnapChat, as always, tries to meet all the needs of users: for example, you can communicate (via a video call) and send snaps simultaneously.
The story is the snaps collection that lives only a day (24 hours). Being available to all your friends, the story can be reviewed as many times as one likes.
Viewing history is the most exciting thing. You can watch videos and pictures during the time specified by the author, or you can just touch the screen and move on to the next item.
As for your story, you can decompose it into video spots or download all in one file. And, of course, you can always find out who have overviewed your pieces.
Another similar apps have such a feature too, as you may know: for example, Instagram and even Facebook offer us to make our little stories of the same type. 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 that contains interesting news of 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 this 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 SnapChat only cooperates with the most secure mobile payment systems.
We’ve figured out what features the apps similar to SnapChat should have. And now it’s time to take a look at the next important issue, that is…
As we already understand, apps like SnapChat should be a tool for communication which provides a variety of services for the vivid expression of our emotions including stickers, media content sharing, and so on.
Therefore, when thinking about how to make an app like SnapChat, analyze the following points:
- think what format of communication you want to offer and what features your app should provide;
- make a list of requirements for your future SnapChat clone app;
- decide which platforms your application will run on. The ideal option is to ensure that your service will be compatible with any devices. But if you have a limited budget, then for starters you can build an app similar to Snapchat for Android only (or just for iOS). If you remember, that's what Snapchat did: the company created the app for the Android platform only in 2012.
- find the mobile app development team that will implement your project;
- think about ways to monetize. We have described your options if you remember.
- hire marketers and an app support team.
Now let's consider the typical app development process:
- Research. The goal of this stage is to find the best solution for your company, the one that perfectly fits your project budget and expectations.
- Documentation. Now it is important to prepare the draft and sign a contract which will formulate all the conditions for the cooperation for the purpose of creating a Snapchat clone. This will help to protect both parties of the mobile app development process.
- Prototyping. Experts should present the prototype that 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 have often noticed that all successful apps that are like Snapchat have clean, beautiful, intuitive, user-friendly interfaces. So this stage is really significant.
- Coding. This is it, right? Yes, this is the very moment when the developers are actually building your app. The idea that was just a dream becomes a real working service, a possible source of your incomes.
- 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. This is the last, but also an important stage of app development. And it is very important to make sure that your alternative Snapchat is published as soon as it is ready.
Among other things, you are probably interested in the app development cost, so that you could draw up your budget.
How much does it cost to make an app SnapChat? 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 which estimates the cost to build apps like the well-known mobile services (including Snapchat). But we must warn you that 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 will 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 app development. Of course, an application with the full functionality will be 3-4 times more expensive than a minimally viable product is, according to Gigster. And its development will require 3-4 months more.
But this is the estimation given by Gigster. The drawback of this approach is the fact that developer rates are not taken into account. The matter is that American experts are asking much more money than the Ukrainian ones do, which means that the cost of creating a Snapchat clone will be significantly different. Fortunately, there is another option to consider pricing issues.
So let's develop some new approaches to this main question, that is: how much does it cost to make an app SnapChat?
What factors does pricing depend on?
#1. The cost of the development team
It all depends on the rate of the team you have chosen, in other words, how much they require per hour of their work. If you are limited in money, do not focus on the promoted companies. Find developers with a decent portfolio and a moderate rate.
You will need:
- UI/UX designers;
- iOS and Android developers (if you’re going to create an app similar to SnapChat for Android and iOS platforms);
- QA engineers.
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. This 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.
And yet, which country developers should you choose? Look for the answer in our article. You can start by creating an MVP model that 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 will 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 requires a great deal of money, even if you limit yourself to promotion in social networks.
To make a profit, apps just like SnapChat 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, apps that are like SnapChat require a qualified approach to the development process. We are ready to offer our professional services. We will create for you a modern application with a laconic and beautiful design, the app that will appeal to users. The basis of this confidence is our huge experience, great expertise, and impressive portfolio.