Revealed: How Much Does It Cost to Create an App Like Snapchat

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28 Sep 2018
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11 min
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Alina A.
Copywriter

Online communication is a vital part of our everyday lives. Thanks to chat apps like Snapchat, WhatsApp, or LINE it's got much easier to chat without unnecessary clicks through a social network page. A lot of popular chat apps exist, and many more of their clones are appearing. However, if you want to create your own chat app don't be afraid to give it a try, because users are always open to new offers.

To create your own app similar to the booming Snapchat, you need to learn this application inside and out. In this article, we'll help you understand how to create app like Snapchat as well as calculate its development cost.

How Much Does It Cost to Create an App Like Snapchat?

What's Snapchat

To make it clear, Snapchat is a mobile messaging app that lets users share their pictures, videos, and stories. It also allows users to take photos and videos and add a caption, filters or drawings to them. The special security mechanism makes photos and videos self-destruct a few seconds after viewing. Snapchat is now widely used among teens, but it hits new demographics every single day.

Teenagers say that they prefer visual communication to texting. This is the exact reason for Snapchat's sweeping popularity.

A bit of Snapchat history

Snapchat's evolution from a regular messenger into a private messaging space is really exciting.

Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy started Snapchat in 2011 when three main giants - Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter ruled the online space. They risked a lot launching an app similar to the hottest apps, so they needed to add something that would make their app special. And they did. The idea of self-destructing pictures beat all the expectations. The new app managed to equalize the strengths of all three social network giants and create something absolutely unique.

Just one year after Snapchat was launched, the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, tried to buy the app for $3 billion. However, Spiegel turned the offer down, because he realized that he had one of the hottest apps of the time. In June 2014, Snapchat was valued at $10 billion, so their rejection of Facebook's $3 billion offer doesn't seem to be goofy anymore. After a while, Snapchat launched some great updates such as Discover and geofilters as a part of their monetization strategy. We'll get back to Snapchat's monetization a little bit later

Snapchat language

If you're new to using Snapchat, you may misunderstand some of the terms. People in Snapchat use some special lingo to name some things differently from other chat apps. To avoid confusion here are some of the terms for you to learn: 

  • A snap is a video or picture taken in Snapchat.
  • A story is one or a number of snaps that do not self-destruct in 10 seconds but are shown to your followers for 24 hours.
  • A snapback is a user's response on snaps.
  • A score is called a number of sent and received pictures and videos in chat. They are shown next to your friend's name in your contact list.
  • Snapchatters are the people who use the Snapchat app.
  • Here is an option that allows users to get a live video chat if they are online, or in other words "here". 

To make an app like Snapchat, it's a good idea to consider its main features that are the main reason for the app's popularity. 

Main features of Snapchat

If you want to create app like Snapchat, you need to learn what features it provides, so you'll understand what your new app should include. Here is a small guide on Snapchat features.

Taking and sharing your snaps

The main feature you should consider to create a Snapchat app is the ability to take and send photos and videos that self-destruct in a few seconds. Snapchat provides a big number of filters, text captions, and drawings for photo/video editing. Besides, recently WhatsApp enabled an update that includes new editing and drawing options that happen to be amazingly similar to Snapchat's drawing tools. After that, the Facebook team was criticized for borrowing features from their "ghostly rival".

Lenses

Lenses is the most popular Snapchat feature, after snap sharing of course, which is often a goofy animation that users can overlay on the top of their pics. This feature is very important in case you want to build an app like Snapchat.

Add lenses feature to create an app like Snapchat

Features to create app like Snapchat of your own: Lenses

Geofilters

Geofilters are similar to the originals. You can overlay a design onto a picture or video taken in the Snapchat app, but the difference is that they are only available in distinct locations.

Add geofilter-related features to create an app like Snapchat

Features to create app like Snapchat of your own: Geofilters

Adding friends

The Snapchat team provided new ways of adding friends. They use personalized QR codes that users can scan with their camera to start following other users. They are called Snapcodes. So if you're wondering how to make app like Snapchat, you should analyze convenient ways of adding friends. 

Create add a friend  feature to build an app like Snapchat

Features to create app like Snapchat of your own: Adding friends

Chatting

Snapchat is not only a snaps sharing app since regular messaging is also used. Snapchat couldn't ignore the obsession with the stickers. So they added more than 200 stickers with their recent update. 

Add chatting feature to create an app like Snapchat

Features to create app like Snapchat of your own: Chatting

Video and audio calls

With one of the updated, video and audio calls became available for Snapchat users. The special thing about Snapchat calls is the ability to be on a call and send pictures at the same time. Also, users can now make small videos and audio clips, or as they call them notes.

Add video and audio calls to create an app like Snapchat

Features to create app like Snapchat of your own: Video and audio calls

Story

A story is actually a snap broadcasted to all followers so that they can view as many times as they would like for 24 hours. Users also can see who has viewed their story too. Recent updates allow users to jump straight to their next friend's Story by only swiping left in a Story, and once a Story finishes playing the next one from the list automatically starts. The update made consuming Story content easier for users, and Snapchat is now getting over 7 billion video views daily. So if you are researching how to make a Snapchat-like app, then don't forget to add Stories to the features list.

Add story feature to create an app like Snapchat

Features to create app like Snapchat of your own: Stories

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If you want to create an app similar to Instagram, see also our article: How Much Does It Cost to Develop an App Like Instagram?

Discover

Discover is a feature which helps find stories from editorial teams. It provides recent news from big companies, such as Cosmo, People, CNN, Mashable and many others.

Add discover feature to create an app like Snapchat

Features to create app like Snapchat of your own: Discover screen

How Snapchat makes money

Now, you know how to make the Snapchat app's skeleton. It is time to learn more about its monetization strategy. 

The Snapchat team has been using some of the features to provide monetization.  

Advertising

For example, the Discover feature described above provides paid advertising. The revenue distribution between Snapchat and their clients varies, but occasionally ads are worth ten to fifteen cents per view and they are estimated to be seen 500,000 to 1,000,000 times daily.

Sponsored content

A short time after geofilters were launched, the Snapchat team announced that users are now allowed to purchase sponsored geofilters for snaps. McDonald's was the first to use the offer and paid for a branded geofilter that covers all its restaurants in the United States. 

Ads API

In addition, Snapchat has started ads with API and announced a launch of promotional instruments such as snap ads between Stories and expandable "Snap Ads".

The cost to make an app like Snapchat

If you've already decided to make an app like Snapchat, the first thing that needs to be considered is the approximate cost. We say "approximate" because the cost of an app's development always depends on many factors. We've prepared a list of components that influence on app's cost.

1. Team

First of all, the cost of your app will depend on the mobile app development team you choose. For instance, if you choose a team from Western Europe or the US, the price per hour will range from $60 to $200. However, the most expensive variant isn't always the best one. As an example, development companies from Eastern Europe will make you the exact app you want or even better, and the payment is $25-50 per hour, which is significantly cheaper than in the US.  

Also, it depends on how many people your team will consist of. The standard team must include a minimum of two developers, a designer, a project manager, and a QA engineer. If you want to create a more complex app then you will need to hire more people.

2. App platform

One of the first choices to make before building an app is the type of platform. It's obvious to say that if you want your app to be widely used you need to launch your app on more than one platform, especially the most popular - iOS and Android. If we speak about Snapchat, it's available for all main platforms.

However, it's often hard to include many platforms at the start, because it requires a big budget. You can choose only one to start with and make it really good and expand your app once you become successful.

3. Design

The cost of mobile app design services again depends on your requirements. The more complex design you want, the more hours will be needed and the higher the price will get. Let's look at the basic points in app designing and try to estimate approximate costs:

  • Wireframing usually takes anywhere from 14 to 140 hours. If we take an average price of $50 per hour, we get an approximate cost from $700 to $7,000.
  • UI design can take from 14 to 210 hours depending on complexity. On the condition of our average price, the approximate cost gets to $700-10,500.
  • The process of UX design requires from 7 hours to 200 hours, so the cost varies from $350 to $10,000. 

Also, keep in mind that not only the complexity but a platform type can influence the cost of app designing. For instance, an iOS app design is more expensive because of its strict guidelines. However, Android app design can also become tricky since it has a lot of OS versions and a wide range of screen resolutions.

4. Ambitions about your app

We can endlessly estimate the approximate cost of the app, but the most important condition is how ambitious you are about your app. If you want to create app like Snapchat with identical features, you need to prepare a big budget to spend. However, it isn't a necessary condition to create an absolutely identical clone. 

It's up to you to decide which features to include or ignore. Here we've prepared the list with estimated Snapchat features which shows how much it really costs to create app like Snapchat. For estimation, we took an average price - $50 per hour.

Cost of Snapchat features
field1 field2 field3
Feature Time needed Cost
Self-destructing messaging 30-40 hours $1,500 - 2,000
Registration Up to 125 hours Up to $6,250
Push notifications 40 hours $2,000
Adding friends (recognition algorithms and QR code recognition algorithms development) From 2 hours (depending on complexity) From $100
Geolocation 32 hours $1,600
Uploading pictures and videos 76-320 hours $3,800 - 16,000
Video and photo customizing 68 hours $3,400
Audio and video calls 180-220 hours $9,000 - 11,000

Total cost

Summarizing everything above, we can say that the approximate cost to make an app like Snapchat for one mobile platform will be around $70,000. However, we say again that everything's up to you. It's for you to decide which feature your new app will provide and how similar to Snapchat it will be. 

How to create an app like Snapchat

How much it costs to create app like Snapchat [Infographics]

Except for the total Snapchat development cost, we've also prepared a short guide that will help you understand how to make an app like Snapchat and where to begin.

How to make an app like Snapchat

Follow these simple steps to create app like Snapchat of your own:

  • Step 1. Research the market to identify your competitors 
  • Step 2. Learn your target audience to understand their needs
  • Step 3. Create a list of features for your Snapchat-like app 
  • Step 4. Set your budget
  • Step 5. Define for what platform to build your app first (or maybe for both)
  • Step 6. Find a team or hire software development company
  • Step 7. Craft a marketing strategy
  • Step 8. Release and don't stop developing your product 

There is no need to create a pompous app at the very beginning. Keep in mind that the real Snapchat started as a small messaging app similar to Instagram where a minimum number of features was provided. The idea was all that Snapchat's founders had. 

Get your inspiration from the exciting Snapchat evolution story and give your idea a try. And then, get in touch with a reliable mobile app development company and start your project up!

Do you want to make an app like Snapchat of your own and show it to the world? We can help you! Our company has an extensive expertise in developing messaging apps and social networks. Contact our managers to ask your question and get a free estimate of your app. 

You can also subscribe to our newsletter if you want to receive more articles like this. We send one letter a week and pick the most relevant content for you. 

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