How to create an instant messaging app?

How to create an instant messaging app?
how to create a instant messaging app

Do you have an idea to develop a fantastic app? You can decide to create a messaging app and become the next multi-billion-dollar app success story. So, let’s take a look at how to create an instant messaging app like WhatsApp.

How to make an instant messaging app like WhatsApp

There are various types of instant messaging apps in the world today, and developers keep on creating new ones. You too can profit from this hot niche by creating your own instant messaging app. This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to create an instant messaging app. For this guide, we shall use WhatsApp as the case study. After all, it’s the most successful messaging app in existence today.

Read on to learn how to make an instant messaging app without spending a fortune on development costs. 

Here is a list you can start with:

  • WhatsApp
  • WeChat
  • Skype
  • Telegram
  • SnapChat

The History of Instant Messaging App Development

Instant messaging apps came into the computing scene at the turn century in the form of chatroom and desktop applications such as MSN Messenger and Skype. When mobile technology emerged, chat apps naturally moved from desktop to mobile devices. Some examples are WhatsApp, WeChat, Telegram, SnapChat, and many more. WhatsApp is arguably the innovator of modern instant messaging apps with the many novel features it introduced on the platform. That is why WhatsApp is an excellent example while researching how to make an instant messaging app.

Some of the latest innovations in Instant messaging include the open API for messaging apps, masks, public chat channels, bots, status, payment integrations, and many other features. However, not all platforms added all these novel features to their messaging app for technical reasons. For instance, WhatsApp does not have chatbots or give access to APIs.

The most challenging aspect while learning how to create an instant messaging app for iOS and Android is the architecture design. You must create an instant messaging app in a way that allows you to add new features without complications.  

For a start, create the app with just the most essential features and make sure you create a foundation for adding other features found in leading messaging apps.  You must be able to add novel features to the app when the need arises. 

UI and UX Are Critical to Your Messaging App Success

Two critical factors you cannot afford to ignore are the UI and UX.  You must realize that your app user would not want to check the tooltip or download a tutorial before using your app efficiently. That is why your interface must be simple, so the user can just click and chat. You can achieve this by using a native design that has a predictable user interface so people can start using it without asking questions. These guidelines below will be helpful in your quest to learn how to create a messaging app with excellent UI and UX.

UI and UX of a messaging app
UI/UX Messaging App
  • First, create the app with empty states of the various sections without any activity. Make sure the settings are intuitive for the user.
  • Establish a user feedback mechanism so you won’t leave the user wondering what is happening within the app. For example, a download action would not complete instantaneously. You can add a progress bar to keep the user informed about the status of the download event.  
  • It is essential to test your app extensively.  Since messaging apps are used almost continuously, the chances of using the app under unpredictable conditions are high.  So, you should take the initiative to test your app under all possible conditions. The best way to test an app is to place yourself in the shoes of the user to uncover the challenges the user may likely face. This approach would help you solve such problems and also add innovative features to your app. Some seemingly minor features that you add to your app can give it an edge over competitors. 
  • It is vital to display all errors to the app user. Program a feature that notifies the app user of errors when they occur. Events such as loss of connectivity is a typical example. If there is no error notification mechanism, the user would be wondering why messages are not coming in or going out. The best approach to handling such an issue is to notify the app user but still allow the app to work offline. When the connection is restored, the app can start sending the messages that were queued offline. Be innovative and implement features that will add value to the user. 
  • Feature for replaying recorded audio messages is essential. Your user will be glad if the app allows the replay of recorded audio before sending it to the recipient. Such a feature allows the user to correct the error in the recording before sending it. Fine-tuning this feature to take care of possible user challenges will make your messaging app unique.

The foundation of your successful messaging app

The architecture is critical if you are thinking about developing an app that would scale in the future. An excellent architecture will ensure excellent speed and usability once the app begins to scale.  So, make sure the data structure is simple by storing the essential items only. This approach will make your app faster and more responsive.

Store your messages with a simple architecture and integrate support for data such as image files, video files, audio files, geographic location, and the likes. Remember that 80% to 90% of the data the app handles will be text messages while the rest can be other complex data such as images and media files. So, you should optimize your architecture accordingly.

One of the factors to consider while practicing how to develop an instant messaging app is optimizing the speed of data transfer. You need to avoid over querying, which retrieves irrelevant data that increases your server costs. For example, you need to pull out a user’s picture and name, but you received a result that also adds the address, age, and other profile data. This type of extra data would result in slower queries and higher server costs. 

However, you can avoid this bottleneck when you use a technology such as GraphQL that allows you to write queries with a high level of precision. See these links for examples of GraphQL queries: 

GraphQL Queries for a Messaging App

The code in the first link above retrieved the name and picture only, but the second one pulled out the complete user profile.

One of the outstanding selling points of GraphQL is that you only need to create a single class. After that, you can query the data that you need with a high level of precision.  The benefits are massive; the server load will reduce, and you will incur lower data transfer costs. So, optimize the class of your messages to have a clear structure and use a technology like GraphQL to prevent over querying and save costs.

What are the Features of Top Instant Messaging Apps?

The modern messaging apps will undoubtedly end up performing more functions than instant messaging. These extra functions will make your app more competitive and user-friendly. For instance, an overview of the leading messaging application shows that most of them have the following features:

  • Real-time messages
  • Message search feature.
  • Delete entire dialogues.
  • Store conversations locally.
  • Disable /enable message alerts.
  • Integrated image editor.
  • Support for stickers and emojis.
  • File attachments support.
  • Attachment compression feature.
  • Contact import from Display the message status like pending, sent, delivered, and read.
  • Copy and paste messages in the chat app.
  • Quote messages, audio messages, message thread, forwarding messages.
  • Delete messages locally and phone and other apps.
  • Geolocation signal messaging.
  • Support for QR codes.

The above are essential functions present in most of the free messaging apps out there. Some have additional advanced features such as payment, subscription services, hotel reservations, payment of bills, integration with booking services, ticketing, and lots more

While researching how to create an instant messaging app, you should pen down the must-have functions in your messaging app.  This approach will enable you to understand all the tasks ahead before starting the app development project.

Make It Flexible, Testable, and Scalable

Three of the qualities of an excellent app are flexibility, testability, and scalability. It is essential to design the app with autonomous layers to achieve these features. In essence, the business logic, presentation, and data objects should be created in a way that a change in one would not interrupt the function of the others. That is how to create an app platform that can scale code and infrastructure without hassles.

When it comes to scalability, the best option would be to use a Backend as a Service platform (BaaS). The reason is simple; you can avoid some tedious and time-consuming tasks when you outsource the server-side infrastructure to a backend service provider. So, with BaaS, you can complete your instant messaging app faster. 

A vital point you must grasp while learning how to create an instant messaging app is that scalability is essential. Read this article, BaaS – Backend as a Service to learn how a backend service can help you scale quickly.

Issues Relating to App performance       

Most chat app developers often prefer to use a popular programming language as the development platform.  Unfortunately, the platform, language, services, or libraries may not support the requirements of a chat app. But the developer would have wasted time and money before realizing this fact. Therefore, it is essential to carry out a feasibility study before selecting your chat app development platform.  Do not choose a programing language only because it’s popular.  Select one that is most appropriate for developing an adaptive system.

Managing Server Loads and Scaling Userbase

One of the essential things you need to know when researching how to create instant messaging is that you should establish the business logic first. After that, you can go ahead to build an architecture that works with it.  This structure allows you to create robust apps that function correctly under heavy load. Moreover, you would not only be expediting the project cycle, but you can also add new features quickly in the future. Most app owners that handle development the order way round build apps that crash under heavy load. 

Multifarious Scalability

Bear in mind that the needs of your users various extensively. For example, a user may have fast internet connectivity, while that of another would be dead slow. Some would even have an erratic internet connection and would want to continue using the app while they are offline. In some cases, internet connectivity roams or switches from WiFi to Mobile network arbitrarily. All the user wants is the ability to use the app offline, or with any type of connectivity without hassles. That is why you must test your app offline and under various types of internet connectivity.

So, make sure you tweak the software to work efficiently when online or offline, and with slow or fast internet connectivity. You should test the connection and data access in offline mode as well. The chat app should work without internet connectivity and sync offline data once the link is back.

Privacy and Security Features

Settings that enhance the security and privacy of your app users are vital components that you should not ignore.  For instance, your app must comply with specific privacy-related legal requirements. A few of them are, the US HIPPA – Health Insurance Portability, European GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation Accountability Act, Brazilian LGPD – Lei Geral de Protecao de Dados, and many others.

The GDPR redefines the way data is collected and processed by organizations operating in the European Union. It allows the user to have access and control their data that is stored online by a third-party. If you hope to have users in the EU region, your app must be GDPR compliant. An easy way to achieve GDPR compliance out-of-the-box is to use a BaaS. This approach is best for small and medium app projects. It would help you save the time, cost, and hassles of implementing the complicated GDPR compliance for your app. This article,  BaaS GDPR, gives an in-depth overview of how a Backend as a service can help you cross the GDPR compliance hurdle. 

Do you know that scanning network traffic and reading unencrypted messages is common knowledge nowadays? Therefore, you must invest in top-notch technology for securing your app. This step is required to mitigate security risks and protect the privacy of your app users. A single exploit that leads to a security breach can damage the reputation of your app altogether.

An excellent instant messaging app should protect user privacy and ensure that all data transfer on the platform is secure. You must use SSL technology to encrypt all communications between the app users. Additional security/privacy options include complete user anonymity. You can decide not to store any data like phone numbers, which makes it easy to identify a user.  

You must take the security aspect seriously while researching on how to create an instant messaging app. Configuring your app security is not a piece of cake. For instance, you should find a way to hide all user-identifiable information such as name phone number, address, and the likes to create an anonymous chat. Other options may include a one-time invitation key for accessing public chat, and similar innovative features.

There are many avenues for enhancing the security of your app and protecting the privacy of your app users. Study the security flaws in other apps and find a way to solve the challenges in your chat application. You might consider securing certain conversations so that they become unshareable or self-destructive. What is the point of encrypting a message when someone with access to the phone can screenshot and share it? Another common flaw is app alerts that show on a locked screen.  There are lots of innovations you can implement to make your app more secure; these features will end up becoming your selling points. Code the most vital security functions and schedule others for future updates as you receive user feedback.

A Final Note

We believe this article has answered your question on how to create an instant messaging app. The procedure is a bit complicated for an average developer, but experienced developers can navigate through the process. Once you select the right tools from the start of the project, you won’t have serious challenges in the future. A backend as a service can make the procedure a lot easier. BaaS expedites development procedure and allows your app to scale without hassles.

What are the most used messaging apps?

– WhatsApp
– Skype
– WeChat
– Telegram
– Snapchat

What are the main features of a messaging app?

– Real time messages
– Message search
– Local store
– File attachment (images, video, audio, etc)
– QR Codes
– Audio recording
– Video conference
– Quote messages

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