How to Create an App like Snapchat

Redbytes UK
  • Date Published
  • Categories Blog
  • Reading Time 10-Minute Read

Snapchat has taken the social networking world by storm. Want to create a Snapchat app? Read the article to know more about Snapchat app development.

Just like everyone else, you must love to express and communicate your feelings emotionally. And Snapchat offers that emotional outlet. You can create a Snapchat app clone and can add some extra features to make it unique.

Statista reported in 2017 that the popularity of Snapchat has overtaken that of Twitter and Instagram amongst American teenagers.

With such a sizeable target audience online on an application like Snapchat are driving businesses to consider creating a Snapchat app, or at least something similar to it.

But what is SnapChat and how does it work? Is it even possible to emulate its success?

The Snapchat Hallmark

Before you move onto developing a Snapchat like application, you must find out what is the uniqueness in the app that has made it so popular with the audience.

Unquestionably, the app’s uniqueness is based on how users can set a time limit of up to 10 seconds for which is enforced on the recipients viewing the material sent to them by the user. Once the specified timeline expires, the snap automatically gets deleted.

The functioning of the Stories feature is slightly different. Here, the users get up to 24 hours to enjoy the media content. This uniqueness largely controls any possibility of illegally distributing media content on the internet.

With such attached timelines for the media being destroyed, you can proactively share original, possibly even strange content with friends. And be assured that they are the only ones being able to view the frames.

This increased level of privacy and security is what drives more and more audiences towards using Snapchat, minus unnecessary limitations.

Features in an App like Snapchat

Now that you have decided to embark on this journey, it is recommended that you become well-versed with Snapchat’s most important features. You may be using some of them when you start working on your Snapchat clone script.

1) Snaps

This is the secret behind Snapchat’s rising popularity. Exchanging snaps or self-destructing images or videos is what users enjoy the most about this application. Moreover, they can also edit media messaging using several interesting filters.

While cloning the Snap feature may be too much of a copycat, you must think of hallmark functionality that goes on to become your application’s USP.

2) Messaging

Snapchat is a smart application that has not ignored the fact that there may still be a certain segment of its audience who may be more comfortable with a common way to communicate. In this case, ordinary text messaging, however boring or obvious it may be.

Even though the application is readily associated with unusual photo effects and cool filters, you should always give due importance to the textual component of the communication process. This way you ensure that you meet the needs of all types of customers.

If you have already opened the video sent by a friend but did not hear or read the text, then there is no follow up opportunity to check it again. But you can protect the message from disappearing if you hold a finger on it. The message exists until you release it from your ‘patronage’.

So, Snapchat has found a unique way of handling mundane text messages which is probably an initiative that you may want to think about too.

3) Stickers

Snapchat has gone all out when it comes to its Stickers feature. Here’s what the Snapchat application offers to their users:

  • Recent stickers are the ones that you have been using most recently in your communication
  • Recommended stickers like timestamp, stickers for the day, etc., appear automatically when you access the sticker tool
  • Custom stickers are the ones that you can create yourself
  • Bitmoji stickers are versions of users in cartoon formats
  • Emoji stickers are the standard ones that you find in your everyday smartphone

While you create your Snapchat app, make sure your stickers are bright and funny to keep your users engaged and push them to actively share them.

4) Lenses

Snapchat offers a range of 7 lenses, basically which are various types of animations that users can choose from to overlay on the snap to get a funny effect. While the types of lenses keep changing, the number remains constant at seven.

Snapchat does not allow you to apply these lenses to photos that you have already taken. The feature needs to be activated before you take the picture.

5) Geofilters

Geofilters by Snapchat are a feature that also gives you access to a set of filters. But you can only enable their usage in accordance to your geolocation.

What users can additionally do is to supplement their snap with a specific pattern available in a specific location. The feature not only adds an element of interest but also makes money for Snapchat too.

6) Search for Friends

Another geolocation feature offered by Snapchat is the app’s ability to locate friends.

But that’s not all that Snapchat offers. With the usual way of being able to add new friends, Snapchat has tried to jazz them to make them more engaging. Also, they have added a few original options too.

For example, the ‘Add Nearby’ feature allows you to add new friends who are in your location at that very moment. They too must have the same feature enabled on the app.

Alternatively, you can also use Snapcodes to add friends by providing them with a unique snapcode which you can find on your app’s home screen. All you need to do is to scan the code with your phone camera and start adding new friends, and vice versa.

7) Video/Audio Calls

The 2.0 version introduced this new feature where users can now communicate with each other using audio/video calls via the application. If you feel like it, you can simultaneously keep sending snaps too.

8) Stories

The snap collection Stories are only active for 24 hours. Your friends can review the Stories for as many times as they like within the stipulated period.

Users have the option to watch the pictures and videos any number of times or just touch the screen to move on to the next item.

As the author of these stories, you can also view the profiles of users that have checked your content. Additionally, you can get your Story decomposed into video spots or download them all in a single file.

9) Discover

If you want to access the latest news, then Snapchat has thought of that too. The Discovered features are a sort of media catalog that allows you to access interesting news bits.

Agreed that Snapchat earns a tidy profit through editorial teams for viewing their content, but there’s no harm in adding another monetization method.

10) Snapcash

The latest feature that has been added to the kitty is the Snapcash that allows users to make payments through the application. By incorporating a lot of security measures, users can trust the credibility of the Snapchat payment systems.

Monetizing the Application

Currently, Snapchat uses the following methods of revenue generation:

  • In-between Snap Ads
  • Branded GeoFilters
  • Sponsored Lenses
  • Sports Partnerships
  • In-app purchases
  • Premium Access

Employing these strategies in due course of time will ensure that you earn the money back that you have invested in building the mobile app and then some.

Developing a Snapchat Clone

As you close in on your outline to create a communication app similar to Snapchat, you must bear in mind the following points:

  • Be focussed on the communication format that you will offer to users along with the initial set of features that the application will have
  • Have the architecture in place for functionalities and features that you may want to incorporate in the app at a later date
  • Shortlist the platforms that you will run your application on, which, ideally should be compatible with all types of devices
  • Get a development team in place who can execute your app requirements
  • Have a monetization strategy in place because sometime in the future you would want the app to start earning revenue
  • Get a marketing team to support the launch and promotion of the application

Once you have these key aspects in place, you can move on to the actual process of app development.

Here are the top components:

  • Research: At this stage, you need to find the solution that fits in best with your project, budget, and expectations.
  • Documentation: The documentation process is contractual where you agree on the terms and conditions and outlines SOPs for team co-operation at multiple levels, project timelines and all associated costs.
  • Prototyping: Your development team will present you with the wireframes of each app screen along with the associated user flow. This is the prototype phase which will require your approval to proceed further with the project.
  • UI/UX Design: Any Snapchat like app must have a user-interface that is clean, intuitive and at the same time be able to attract user eyeballs too.
  • Coding: This is the phase where your Snapchat clone comes to life as the development team weaves their magic.
  • Quality Assurance: Any application before launch needs to be tested at multiple levels to eliminate the possibilities of technical errors. The goal is to ensure that all features and functionalities are working in order and the final product is of the highest quality.
  • Release: Once all of these stages have been accomplished, your application is ready to be made live immediately.

Cost to Create an App Similar to Snapchat

Developing an application is a complex process. A lot depends on the rate of your development team that you have selected to build the app. Your team should typically constitute of:

  • UI/UX designers
  • iOS and Android developers
  • QA engineers

Snapchat has the following tech stack that can act as your point for reference.

  • Development languages include Python, Objective-C for iOS, Cocoa Touch and PHP.
  • Hosting has used the Google Compute Engine
  • Front-end has been built on Semantic UI
  • Back-end has been developed on Goole App Engine

For the sake of argument, let’s take the example of developing a mobile app like Snapchat on an MVP model. To develop it right from scratch, you can expect to invest the following number of man-hours:

  • Business analysis – 225 hours
  • Project management – 223 hours
  • Frontend (iOS) – 513 hours
  • Frontend (Android) – 519 hours
  • Backend development – 681 hours
  • Quality assurance – 163 hours
  • UI/UX (iOS) – 297 hours
  • UI/UX (Android) – 307 hours

For the iOs platform, it should take around 2102 hours to create the Snapchat app. For the Android platform, it should take around 2,118 hours.

Depending on the above calculations, you can look at spending anywhere between $25 to $ 43 per hour basis on the location of your development team.

You are looking at least a year or more to create a Snapchat app, possibly more.

Final Thoughts

Minus the self-destruction of the messages feature, the app would never have achieved this level of popularity. As you create your Snapchat app, this may play on your mind too.

Snapchat created this one of a kind feature that caught the attention of the young generation. No wonder there has been an explosion in their active user base.

While it is great to take reference from a successful app like Snapchat, it is recommended that you do not completely create an app as an absolute clone. Your aim should be to come up with a better and improved version which too can swim against the stream to succeed.