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Imagine you’re a college student who develops an ephemeral photo messaging app with your buddies, everybody says that it is a terrible idea, and just like that in a couple of years later Tech giants like Facebook or Google offer you $3 to $4 billion to buy it, but you rejected their offer. After three years your company’s net worth is $20 billion.

You may think that we’re the dreamers, but we are not the only ones.

The above story is a success story of Snapchat, a mobile messenger with text, photo, video content which

Disappears in few seconds after it is received.

Their success has inspired a lot of entrepreneurs and we receive a large number of requests to estimate the cost to build an app like SnapChat.

It can be a great idea for a startup. You can create your own version of SnapChat clone, add some new features into it and get your piece of cake.

SnapChat’s daily video views are increasing by 400% year-by-year. Over 150 million people use their free app daily. More than 60% of people in the USA between age bracket of 13- to 34-year are using their service.

Since the beginning, SnapChat owners didn’t care about making money. But later the app provided found various ways to generate the revenue.

Let’s start with an overview of SnapChat features. It is crucial to examine them while considering how to make an app like Snapchat.

How to make an app similar to SnapChat

A few years ago SnapChat was a simple messaging app with a primary feature of vanishing messages within the duration of one to 10 seconds.

But with the course of time, it added a vast amount of incredible features, which provide more immersive engagement with the app. Snapchat gradually evolved into the mix of private messaging and public content, started including brand networks, video-sharing, and live events. Moreover, Snapchat started to expand its capabilities and became Omni entertainment app,  with the huge transformation from being a messaging platform to becoming a media giant with 10 billion video views per day.

Its latest new feature is called “Memories”, which is a new way to save Snaps and Stories on Snapchat. Users can now create new Stories from Snaps they have already taken, or alternatively, they can even combine different Stories into a longer narrative.
They have also launched some new features, including new photo and video filters, a capability to add emoji stickers to videos, some more changes in Chat 2.0.

How to Make an App Like Snapchat?Let’s begin to examine the elements of the app from basic features to an innovative one.

SnapChat core functionality and what is required to implement it

SnapChat functionality features can be used for two purposes:

  •          Message exchanging
  •          Public content

Message exchanging

SnapChat has introduced a set of amazing features to a simple thing like chatting. Users are able to create multimedia messages in the form of  “snaps”. These snaps are comprised of either photo or a short video, that can be edited with filters and effects, text captions, and drawings. After the recent Chat 2.0 update you can now send audio notes, make video and audio calls. Snaps can be sent privately to selected contacts, or to a semi-public in the form of a “Story”. The privately sent messages can be self-destructed automatically after a few seconds.

App also allows you to share your location. When the user starts typing an address into chat, it displays in a card that is linked with the Google or Apple Maps app.

Automatically self-destructed messages

This feature is provided via custom settings.

Firstly, you need to develop a messenger app. The best Answer to your question “How to make a messenger app?”  is to use the ready-made solutions as a basis for your future product in order to save your time and money.

For Example, it could either be Facebook Messenger SDK or Telegram SDK. The SDK for Messenger will enable your app to share images, animated gifs, videos, and audio clips.

With the help of this approach, the messaging app development normally takes anywhere between 1 to 5 months for two platforms – iOS and Android.

It can approximately cost about $6K for iOS platform and $7K for Android.

But the messenger app development cost also depends upon functionality that you want to implement. The introduction of advanced features can take longer that is about 6 more months.

The good news is that the self-destructed messages functionality implementation isn’t a big deal. It is a custom setting, which is implemented sending by an additional query to the server in order to delete the message from a client.

The idea is very simple and it is provided in the following steps:

  • The user sends a friend a message, and which is uploaded to the Snapchat servers.
  • The recipient gets push notification as he receives a new snap. Then that snap is downloaded in a temporary location on the phone.
  • As soon as the recipient sees the message, the time starts to run out. The app deletes the temporary copy of the snap from the phone and alerts the Snapchat server.
  • The snap is then destroyed from Snapchat’s servers. If the recipient has not viewed the snap within 30 days, it is automatically deleted.


Stickers are now an inevitable part of a modern conversation. Snapchat contains more than 200 stickers which are built into its app. You can either design your own stickers or use a ready-made solution that is a much cheaper option.

Location Sharing:

Developers can use Apple MapKit and Google Location SDK to implement the location sharing feature in the app. It gives them all the required tools to create custom solutions for different operating systems.
The cost to enable location sharing feature in your app ranges from $2K to $4K for both platforms.

Location Sharing

Adding friends

It is an important function for social media app. Apart from the standard methods of adding friends via usernames and phone contacts, Snapchat has introduced some smart ways:

  • Snapcodes

Black dots that surround the Snapchat logo is a personalized QR code. Other users can scan it by using the Snapchat camera and he can instantly follow you.

Recognition algorithm is used here and another algorithm for the generation of such codes is also used.

To create these algorithms it takes approximately 1 month with a cost from $6K to $7K per one platform.

  • Add Nearby Function

It uses your current location to scan where other users who have also enabled the add Nearby open are present in your proximity. The app then sends the device’s coordinates to the server, the server in its turn compares the geolocations of devices with opened Add Nearby screen and display the options.

The implementation of this function can take about a week and cost about $1.5K for one platform.

Video and Audio Calls

In the recent version of Chat 2.0, users can start talking or video chatting instantly with one tap. If the recipient isn’t online, you can send them an audio note.

This feature has made Snapchat a phone alternative and thus bringing it closer to Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp.

Video chat feature can be provided, from AddLive—a real-time communications provider. It will take approximately 2 months to perform this option.

The cost to perform this scope of work can be roughly estimated as:

  • $12K for iOS
  • $14 for Android


A feature which is known as “Geofilters” is a special graphical overlay that is available whenever the user is within a certain geographical location, such as a city, event, or in a particular venue.
To let your users mark their presence in that location on the images, the developers use the geocoding. Geocoding is a computational process which converts the geographic coordinates into a description of a location, which is usually the name of a place. Then the name of the location is overlaid on the image in some form of a template.

It can take approximately 2 weeks and costs about $3K to perform the functionality within the chat app development project.



The “Lens” is one of the most exciting features that are present in the Snapchat. It enables users to add real-time effects and alter video images by with the help of face detection technology. To develop the same technology from scratch will take a lot of resources and money. But if you want your app to have this functionality, you can use the Mirror Reality SDK for iOS and Android developers. The SDK will provide the functionality of applying real-time video face effects, giving developers the tools to design high-grade face swapping apps for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.

The implementation of this solution can take approximately a month with the total cost:

  • $6K for iOS
  • $7 for Android

You will find this article useful: How much does it cost to make a mobile app

Stories and Discover

Stories functionality allows users to broadcast photo and video content from their lives to friends; each story lasts for a day. It refers to public content and provides users with capabilities in a similar way as all the other social networks do.

At present this feature has now been expanded to “Live Stories” which allow Snapchatters who are present at the same event location (such as music festivals or sporting events) to contribute snaps in the same Story.

Discover option includes sponsored short-form content from major publishers, such as BuzzFeed, CNN, Mashable, People, and many others. Every edition is refreshed daily, because, as the Snapchat team believes, “what’s news today is history tomorrow”.

In the end, the question is how much does it cost to build an app like SnapChat?

To sum up, all the facts which we have described above, Snapchat seems to be a huge machine with numerous features. It will take more than a year to create an app like this. The price of such an app with basic functionality can amount from $50K to $70K.

In this case, it is hard to give an accurate project estimation. App development cost is determined by the following three main factors –

They are:

The number of features which needs to be implemented

It’s not mandatory to implement all the features present in SnapChat. You can choose some of the best features and we can estimate how long and how much it will take.

The timing of the project

The same amount of work can be carried out in multiple time frames. The cost also depends on the number of developers involved in the project.


If you have a fixed budget, then it is easier to define the core functionality of your future app which can be the starting point from which we can move forward.

So, feel free to contact us for a NO-OBLIGATION Consultation on how to develop a Snapchat application.



CEO & Founder, @IWebServices : India's leading digital agency that helps global brands develop amazing solutions and connect them to their audience. As CEO, I work with a team of incredibly talented and creative people that blend technology and innovation to augment the best integrated digital solution.


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