How to Create an App like Snapchat?

The success story of Snapchat is truly inspiring. A few college students get together and come up with the idea of a photo messaging application. Everyone thinks of it as an idea that has no merit.


Fast forward a few years and they have Facebook and Google offering a whopping $ 3 to $ 4 billion to buy it. What do these young entrepreneurs do? They reject the offer.


Another three years pass by and the application is worth $ 20 billion. It sounds like a dream but that’s the true tale of Snapchat. Today, it is one of the leading social media networks globally.


snapchat logo


Entrepreneurs around the world have been moved by this story and have come up with ideas for their start-up venture mirroring an app like Snapchat.


If this journey has driven you to create an app like Snapchat and you want a slice of the action too, let’s take a look at what you need to do.


What Are the Core App Features That You Need To Focus On?


Some years ago, Snapchat was the only easy messaging app with its focus on its best feature of removing messages in one to 10 seconds. With time, several new features have been added to its core functions evolving more like a perfect blend of a public and private messaging platform.


Bloomberg reported that this entertainment app has recorded a staggering 10 billion views in a day thus  transforming this messaging channel into a media giant.


snapchat app features


Here are some of the core features that you should introduce when you decide to develop your version of a Snapchat application.


Read Also: 10 Best Free Social Media Apps in UK


1. Message Exchange


Go one step further than just having a feature like chatting, by offering additional value with a set of innovative features when it comes to message exchange. Snapchat  has its unique function known as ‘snaps’ which are multimedia messages comprising of a photo or short video.


These messages are editable. You can add effects, filters, text, captions, drawings. Their recent Chat 2.0 update enables users to make video and audio calls along with sending audio notes.


Snaps can be sent privately to your selected contacts, or a published as a semi-public story that automatically self-destructs within a few seconds.


2. Self-Destructing Messages


This is a custom Snapchat feature where messages sent between users automatically self-destruct within a few seconds. This function has made the app popular among teenagers and young adults across the globe.


3. Stickers


Modern communication minus stickers seems unthinkable these days. Snapchat provides the option of 200 stickers to their users that have been in-built within the application.


When you create an app like Snapchat, think of how you too can come up with a custom feature like Stickers that will attract a large audience to use your platform.


4. Location Sharing


The location-sharing feature enables Snapchat users to share their whereabouts with individuals on their contact list. Their location appears on the Snap Map.


Users of this feature can select which individuals on their contact list can view their location. This works only when the Snapchat is in use.


5. Adding Friends


Look into Snapchat’s smart ways of adding friends instead of just using standard methods like phone numbers and usernames.


Surrounding the Snapchat Ghostface Chilla logo are black dots which is personalized QR code. Using the Snapchat camera, any user can scan it in and start to follow you instantly. This is the work of recognition algorithms in the backend also referred to as Snapcodes.


The Add Nearby feature makes use of your location and automatically scans in users within your proximity who have enabled this function on their Snapchat app too.


The device coordinates are shared with the server from the app. It then compares the geolocation of devices located close to the primary user.



6. Video and Audio Calls


With the latest update on the app, it enables current users to initiate one-tap video chats instantly. In case your preferred user is not online, you can send an audio note instead.


This function offers the user an alternative to WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger by transforming the Snapchat platform very similar to a phone.


7. Geofilters


This is a unique graphical overlay feature known as Geofilters that activates when a user is within a specific geographical location. This can be an event, a city or even a destination.


Geocoding is used to mark the location of the images being shared by users. This is  a computational process that automatically converts the geographical coordinates of the location into a description, generally the name of the place. This then shows up overlaid on the image typically within a template format.


8. Lenses or Filters


Within the Snapchat app, this is probably one of the most exciting features. Allowing the addition of real-time effects on images, making alterations on video images through a process of face detection has taken the messaging app to an entirely new level.


This feature was made possible when Snapchat made a strategic acquisition of a facial modification start-up called Looksery. Their core area of expertise making simulating facial appearances on a photo or video more accessible to users in real-time on mobile platforms.


9. Stories


If you wish to broadcast a photo or video content from your channel to your friends, then Stories is the feature that you should be using. The stories remain to live for 24 hours. The function provides users with a similar social channel to share the news.


The feature can now be upgraded to Live Stories that triggers a new functionality. It allows Snapchat users located at the same event location to contribute to the same story trail.


10. Discover


Discover feature is an alternative method of exploring Stories that covers a wide range of editorial teams. It includes all types of sponsored short-form content from major publishers, for example, BuzzFeed, CNN, Mashable, People, etc. The section undergoes a refresh every 24 hours.


How to Create an App Similar to Snapchat?


To create an app like Snapchat, you need to do some deep thinking about the development process once you have finalized the list of features that you aim to include in the application.


Here is a step-by-step layout of your action plan.


Step 1. Discovery or Inception


At this stage, your primary objective is to finalize the non-functional and functional requirements. Along with that, have a project budget estimate handy and outline the business needs.


Step 2. Documentation


The business analysts and project managers at this stage will chart out the specifications of the project. This will include all project-related documents, basically an app blueprint describing how your app is expected to perform.


Step 3. Prototyping


The prototype of the future app along with scenes and user journeys is created by the mobile development team. This is the stage where you can imagine the future of your app and share your feedback and thoughts with the core team.


Step 4. UI/UX Design


The design team basis your screen prototype works on the app UI/UX design. You can begin visualizing what your app screens are going to look like at this stage.


Step 5. Development


All the necessary features in this phase are integrated by the mobile development team post finalization of the app design. As the process of app development progresses forward, you or your project manager may add or subtract precise requirements basis the project’s functionality.



Step 6. Quality Assurance& Testing


Quality Assurance is carried out by the QA team to ensure that the features and functions are performing as per plan. Testing also ascertains that the application is free of bugs.


Step 7. Deployment


Once the QA team certifies that the app is ready, the development team publishes it on relevant app stores for users to download.


Step 8. App Monetization


Once the app has been deployed, you also need to look at ways for the app to generate revenue. Take a look at these recommended routes:


  • In-between Snap Ads
  • Branded GeoFilters
  • Sponsored Lenses
  • The “Discover” section
  • Sports Partnerships
  • In-app purchases
  • Premium access


Tech Stack For The Snapchat-Like App


When you create an app like Snapchat, you may consider the following tech stack combinations


  • Development Languages: Python, Objective-C(iOS), Cocoa Touch, PHP
  • Hosting: Google Compute Engine
  • Front-end: Semantic UI
  • Back-end: Goole App Engine


What is the cost to create an App Like Snapchat?


Experts recommend allocating at least a year to build a comprehensive and complex app like Snapchat.


Check out the features along with the estimated costs and development timelines


Feature Development Timelines Cost for Android in US dollars Cost for iOS in US dollars
Automatically self-destructed messages 1.5 months for two platforms – iOS and Android. 9000 10,000
Location sharing 120 hours 2000 to 4000 for both platforms
Snapcodes 1 month 8000 to 10,000 8000 to 10,000
Nearby function 7 days 3000 3000
Video and Audio Calls 1 month 14,000 12,000
Lenses or Filters 1 month 8000 8000


It is suggested that you build your application on the MVP model. Developing it on the MVP platform will enable you to include essential features and functions as given below


Feature Description Estimation in Hours
Registration/ login feature Email, Phone number, Social network Around 10 to 16 hours
User profile Profile picture, Password, Contact details, Name, Gender, Phone Number From 60+ hours
Posting Users can postImages, Videos

Users can apply editing tools like Effects, Filters, Smileys, Emoticons

Up to 320 hours

Applying filters 120+ hours

Creating custom filters 120+ hours

Cropping and rotating photos 80+ hours

Embedded messenger Enable users to exchange messages Up to 40 hours


The essential features phase is total around 430+ man hours at least.

The overall time estimate will look something like this


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


Creating an app like Snapchat is a complex process. Your core team should include the following members


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


The average rate of your development team will vary anywhere between $25 to $ 43 depending on their location.


  • United States: $ 150 per hour
  • Central and Western Europe: $ 43 per hour
  • Scandinavia: $ 42 per hour
  • India: $ 40 per hour
  • Baltic States: $ 28 per hour
  • Eastern Europe: $ 26 per hour
  • Ukraine: $ 25 per hour


Read Also: How to Create an App like YouTube


The Bottom Line


Undoubtedly, Snapchat with its unique set of core features and functions is the reigning king of the social messaging app space. With its numerous photo and video editing tools, young adults have found a new voice of visual communication.


hire mobile app developers


When you begin with your app development process, it will be a smart move to study how Snapchat has journeyed through its various stages of growth and expansion. Deep dive into these learnings and start benchmarking. It is not necessary to make an identical clone but bring out your unique idea into the forefront.


So, what are you waiting for? Take inspiration from the Snapchat story and get your journey on the tracks. Get in touch with a credible mobile app development company to kickstart your project.