How to develop a messaging app like WhatsApp in 2021?

Jan 2021 / robert_spaculus

How to develop a messaging app like WhatsApp in 2021?

Founded by Jan Koum and Brian Acton in 2009, WhatsApp has now evolved to be the most idealized instant messaging chat app. There is rarely any mobile user who hasn’t used or heard of WhatsApp chat app. Of course, when the app was launched, there was barely any competition in the mobile app store especially because the idea of directly connecting phonebook contacts for chatting was quite unique back then.

Now the app also allows users to share emojis, gifs, audio, video files as well as initiate voice call and video communication all within the single app. So how can you possibly build an app for iOS and Android that shines like WhatsApp in 2021?

The answer is choosing the versatile mobile app development company with the right strategy and innovative ideas. You can also ensure monetization opportunities within a chat app. here is what you should know about developing a messaging app like WhatsApp.

Business-class chat app development challenges

The big part of WhatsApp success relies on the following capabilities:

  • Contact syncing
  • Instant messages
  • Sending photos and audio files
  • Sending voice messages
  • Sharing Geodata for travelling enthusiasts
  • Sending contact data within live chat

A few incomparable qualities of WhatsApp that made it most popular are:

  • Unique functionality
  • Engaging elements
  • Simple design
  • User-friendly settings
  • Intuitive interface
  • Highly responsive performance

These are a few qualities of WhatsApp app to achieve while developing the similar messaging app in 2021. With this idea in mind, the next thing is to enable the must-have functions and features that constitute the modern-day chat app.

Core Features

Account registration: The application should register the user with their phone and email address or Facebook for login authentication process.
SMS-enabled authorization: by utilizing SMS service, this chat app feature provides further safety and security apart from login/password combination.
Profile management: Users can create, edit and manage their profiles by simply entering and deleting the information they want people to see on their profile.
Online/Offline indicator: This essential feature shows others whether a user they are chatting with is online or offline. The sender also gets to know whether the recipient has read the message with a blue check.
Personal status sharing: The WhatsApp-like chat app should allow you to create, customize and publish multiple statuses or a video in ‘status’ feature. It may also offer a fixed premade status messages based on user interest and community.
Text messaging: This is very basic, simple and less challenging functionality that helps users send textual expressions to their contacts.
Integration with social profiles: Having a feature that allows users to connect with other social networks is a hot trend. Using this, they can share chat messages or statures on Facebook news feed, Twitter or Instagram.
End-to-end encryption: This is the most common security measure of a messaging app that ensures messages are secure and conversations are visible to only those users who are authorized to be part of it.
Contacts management: Chat users can manage and preserve the contacts list, condition them, clear the old ones or add new ones as they require.
Importing contacts: It is easy to import contacts from various sources like your e-mail contact list, social network lists and mobile phone contacts.
Block contacts: Just like in Facebook, this feature allows users to label certain unwanted contacts as blocked and prevent them from communicating further. Users are free to remove blocked contacts from the list to resume sending messages to them.
Favorites: Your messaging app can have a feature to create a list of favorites by grouping certain chat contacts to the top of the list as popular or frequently used entries. This will help avoid the need to search for favorites through the entire database.
Group chat: Users have power to create an invitation-based group chat, add or remove members to the group and share files and post messages. Either there can be one single admin, an admin group, or all the users have equal rights to add or remove users.
File attachment: During a live chat, users can attach any media file such as images, audio, videos, or other supportable formats. They can even post a link to media inside the chat.
Emoji icons: This is as common as text messaging nowadays, and as popular. millennials and social network enthusiasts and has become an essential part of messengers. Due to their popularity, emoticon and sticker packs are the excellent option for monetization that does not annoy the customers,unlike the ads.
Voice/Video calls: A fully mature chat app like WhatsApp also offers a functionality to make voice calls or video call communication apart from text messages. It connects to the smartphone’s in-built frontend camera to initiate video call using internet data.
Push notifications: Active in its background mode, this functionality allows the messaging app to send urgent notifications to users. The push notifications can be answered, denied or marked as important.
Chat history and archive: Users can keep some part of the chat or entire chat history stored in the local phone storage. This is handy for offline browsing. They can even archive the whole history to save the local storage space.
Broadcast lists: WhatsApp has launched a fresh new feature called Broadcast lists with which chat app users can send one message to several people at once.

The most recommendable technology stacks to develop an app like WhatsApp

Usually the choice of technology stacks depends on:

  • The target platform
  • Functions and features of messaging app
  • Development process approach
  • Budget and time criteria
  • The expertise of developer team
  • Available resources of Outsourcing partner

There are two types of chat app development strategies:

  • Hybrid: One single version of the application created for both Android and iOS devices
  • Native: two separate versions built for both Android and iOS

WhatsApp chat app relies on these technologies:

  • PHP
  • Erlang
  • SoftLayer
  • Lighttpd

Native Android application

Programming languages: Java and Kotlin

Tools: Android Studio, Android Developer Tools, and Android SDK for coding and debugging

Native iOS application

Programming languages: Objective-C or Swift

Tools: Apple Xcode and iOS SDK for coding and documentation

The stacks used in Hybrid chat application in different combinations

  • React Native
  • Javascript
  • Firebase
  • Expo framework
  • Microsoft Bot Framework
  • Node.js
  • Stream Chat SDK
  • Ionic
  • Xcode
  • PhoneGap/Cordova
  • Openfire server


Replicating the success of WhatsApp might not be easy. But it is undeniable that mobile chat applications are amongst the most profitable types in the iOS and Android app market. Entrepreneurs aspiring to build a splendid app with much improved features, functionality and design need to consult with a chat app development partner who have vivid vision about making sophisticated, innovative next-generation chat software. Spaculus mobile app development company can come to your rescue if you are determined to absorb fresh ideas and technologies. Newly created messaging applications will transform the world of chat communication, pleasing the wide audience with exceptional performance and user experience.

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