Creating an App like Whatsapp

What, why and how of building a messaging app like WhatsApp

From being a sensational new tool for real-time chatting, today, WhatsApp has become an essential communication tool, even surpassing emails. What made it a sure shot success? Well, because it was introduced to address a grass root trait that humans have always obsessed over. Communication!

People love talking to each other.

SMS texting, social media messages, personal chats, and calls have always been highly sought after. WhatsApp simply gave new and efficient means for personal messaging to people, and it was accepted in daily lives in no time.

Monthly active users of various apps

(Source)

As the chart shows, millions of people are used to communicate via mobile apps. Their unparalleled popularity is a sheer indicator that communication industry is transforming and in-app messaging is taking it towards future.

Easy availability of mobile internet and smartphones has spiked up mobile app usage. Clearly, this opens up a new avenue for businesses to approach and engage with their users like never before. That being so, we have written this article to shed more light on how you can leverage your business by means of a mobile app with WhatsApp like conversation features.

So fellas, buckle up and get to work!

Essential features that make your app more influential

Messenger App features

Basically, a WhatsApp like app for business allows people to interact with their contacts, social connections or business networks synced in the app. For such app to remain in demand continually, it must have the features highly solicited by users worldwide. These features constitute the core of the app and attract new users to associate with you. Accordingly, here is a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves features your app should’ve.

User profiling

Upon entering the app, the user must sign into it. Users’ phone number can be a unique parameter to create distinct users in the app. Besides, with the mobile number, the security verification using SMS becomes instant and faster. Furthermore, a user should be able to create his own profile with details and media of his choice to aptly express his persona.

Syncing contacts

Basically, your messaging apps should conveniently facilitate the user with contacts he can communicate to. It can be contacts stored in phone, social media connections or list of people he needs to interact within your business network. In accordance with your objective of building the app, you can make the app fetch such contacts from various sources.  

 Enabling real-time messaging, the essence of building messaging apps

Needless to say, the app should connect the user with contact synced with the app. It must deliver the messages or the media attachments promptly to another person. Evidently, the technologies you use in app development must ensure dexterous one-to-one chat as well as group conversations in real time.

Voice and Video calling

Skype paved the path of VoIP calling across countries right from the app. Today, this is exceedingly used in all messaging apps. Be it FB Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, or Skype, the calling feature makes them further interactive. Hence, you should give the user the liberty to decide whether to use audio, video call or simply text to communicate.

Multimedia attachment transfer

Every day, chat apps circulate millions of videos and billions of images, in addition to documents and GIFs and more supported formats. That is, the user would prefer to be able to send and receive documents while chatting without having to leave the app.

Notifications

Notifications are an efficient way to alert the users that the app has something inside that they should have a look at. Using Firebase Cloud Messaging by Google (FCM) and Apple Push Notifications would make implementing in-app alerts easier. You can even allow the user to customize how they wish to receive notifications.

  • Geo-location sharing
  • App scalability
  • Quick search within conversations
  • Message broadcasting
  • Integration with social platforms
  • Status indicators
  • Calendar sync
  • Self-destructive messages
  • Subscriptions and in-app purchases
  • Cross-platform app operability
  • Chatbot integration

The list can keep growing further. However, you must enlist the top features that are indispensable for you to attract users. You can launch a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that is an app with only essential features, and later keep updating the app while adding new features based on the user feedback. Please note that each feature development consumes a big deal in terms of time and efforts.  Here is a suggestion, try using open-source messaging libraries and speed up development while incurring a lesser cost.   

For a programmer’s curiosity: What does it take to develop a messenger app

Before everything else, you need the industry research observations and app architecture on paper. Here is the plan you can follow if you want,

  • Enlist your requirements. What do you want the app to do?
  • Observe industry standard, best practices, and current trends.
  • How does your competitor’s app look?
  • Lay down the app architecture that describes how the app components would interact, layers in the app, data caching, data flow and accessibility, development environment, supported devices, resolution, and hardware connectivity,
  • Here is where you visualize worst-case scenarios that might need to operate in such an intermittent network,
  • Envisage the future of the app in the marketplace
  • Then, design and examine a prototype before beginning with development.

Finally, this is how you go about developing the app for real. 

App development flowchart

  • Database Framework or cloud media storages would build the foundation to raise the app on.
  • Application server for real time messaging and calling, such as XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) or  MQTT (Message Queue Telemetry Transport)
  • Then, you would need a Rest API to communicate data to and from the app.
  • In the end, Firebase Cloud Messaging shall keep you covered for the app notification part.

Voila! You are pretty much done with the backend construction. Next is, developing the app for different platforms such as Android, iOS, Windows, and BlackBerry. Take a good look at your target audience and the platforms they prefer to use. Without a doubt, iOS and Android platforms would suffice to address the majority of your users.

Evidently, native development is an uphill battle of building Messaging APIs, Chat SDK, libraries, Google and Apple cloud services for Android and iOS platforms and the whole lot. Your programmer would be certainly well versed with how to go about the native app development.

Design!

You must design the appearance of the app very carefully and creatively. Undeniably, the ‘look and feel’ do the hard-hitting piece of work and keep the users engaged with your app while enticing them to return to the app again. While designing you must focus on sentimental usage aspects, such as:

  • App logo: The users see the app icon before they can experience how beautiful your app is. Thus, it is as pivotal as the UI. Icons duly influence the users’ decision of whether or not download the app. Hence, make sure that your logo communicates your brand identity efficiently.
  • App color and theme: choose them wisely. Because, color psychology works indeed. Just so you know, monochrome colors remain in always. Ever wondered why Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, WhatsApp and more app giants exude blue and green hues? Well, give it a thought.
  • Easy navigation. Not to be forgotten that you must handle navigation deftly both at front and back end. Distribute the features and buttons on app screen such that everything comes handy to users. Try to understand whether your customers would want a single window navigation, stacked navigation bar, search driven or gesture based navigation. Take extra care of those most frequently used features. The user friendliness is a trump card that can make your app a hit or a miss.

When you have a decently working version of the app ready, begin testing. Alpha testing, beta testing, keep on testing. It is very crucial. Run all the possible test case scenarios to ensure that you have built an all-weather robust app.  

How would this chat app accelerate your business?

First off, keep in mind that you are building an app for a special business niche for your clients and prospects of the local area as well as worldwide and not any general-purpose texting application.

Businesses can deploy a messaging app for a range of utilities and can reap wholesome rewards for the same, such as;

  • Well, you get to attract more users, more of those who prefer everything done on the go, and to communicate with those who are already using the app.
  • The app even fosters the relationship between users and service providers, thereby churn reduces and more users engage with business. Thus, cross sell and upsell potential increases.
  • Your business can provide better customer support. Through the app, you are accessible 24/7, users can easily submit their queries.
  • You can establish a direct communication and feedback channel directly with the end user.
  • Increases conversion rate as well as customer satisfaction.

See, you can taste a bunch of amazing benefits when you decide to serve and connect with the end user through a mobile app with a built in chatting feature inside.

Time and resources: What does the development cost you?

Seemingly, you have made up your mind to develop all that we discussed about so far. An interactive business app will present you with a channel to acquire more customers and monetize in addition to the perks mentioned above.

So to speak, building such a messenger app would cost you a big sum in terms of time, energy and money. If you begin from the scratch and code yourself, approximately you will need more than 6 months of full time work.

In addition, you will need a team of programming rock stars, that include iOS programmer, Android programmer, front end and back end developers, UI and UX designers, Quality Analyst and a learned person to oversee the happenings aka a project manager.  

All in all, it can cost you up to and beyond $25,000 to develop such an app for your business. However, this is a ballpark number, the type and nature of the features in your app more or less influence the cost of development.

How Applozic lends you a helping hand with in-app messaging

Apparently, adding chat feature in mobile app indeed is a tough job. By now you must be wondering whether to do it yourself or outsource it. Here is a detailed answer to your ‘buy it Vs build it’ dilemma. In a nutshell, your engineers should work upon what they are good at, i.e. developing your business, and leave the ‘in-app messaging’ to experts like Applozic.

To put it briefly, at Applozic we offer best in class chat API & In-App Messaging SDK that you can use to integrate messaging in web or your mobile app. The comprehensive toolkit

  • Saves you huge development cost
  • Gives rich cross platform and multi device conversational interface
  • Make your web and mobile apps more interactive
  • Seamlessly integrates in your product

Thus, with plenty of more intuitive features, Applozic looks after your in-app chat essentials, while allowing you to concentrate on your business. Connect us to know more.

Bringing it all together

Building a messaging app that brings your business a desired output, is a lot more than just programming and launching the app. The whole lot involves post release support, maintenance, timely upgrades, integration with enterprise systems and much more. Therefore, your decision of building or buying in-app chat features has many repercussions that you can imagine. Take all the time you need to make this decision of great magnitude.

In the end, this is how one can go about developing a WhatApp like messaging app from the very scratch. Do remember that even if Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are dominating the in-app communication industry, there is still room for an intuitive app like yours to accommodate in the marketplace. You must build an app that stands out with its unique value proposition.

Without a doubt, conversational apps are a significant part of the end to end communication for businesses. It is high time you must have a dedicated interactive app for your business.

Carpe diem!


DIY vs SaaS

Build vs Buy: What to do for your In-App Communication Needs?

Huh! To Hell with it! I Don’t Need In-App Communication! Well, we urge you to think again.

80% of mobile time is spent on apps. Mobile has become the primary medium for User Acquisition, Monetization, and Engagement/Retention for businesses. In fact, many businesses have also rolled out mobile apps for internal team collaboration and management.

Given the enormous popularity of personal messaging apps – WhatsApp, WeChat etc its clear that messaging is the preferred mode of communication. Taking the concept of messaging a bit further to mobile chat, a recent study reported that 79% of mobile app users would engage with the brand inside a chat. This presents a massive opportunity for businesses to engage with users and increase brand loyalty.

If You Need A Machine And Don’t Buy It, Then You Will Ultimately Find That You Have Paid For It And Don’t Have It: 

Engineer multi work

While we all agree that the in-app messaging has become the utmost necessity for user engagement, most businesses find themselves at the crossroads “Buy it OR Build it”. The danger in building internal tools is that it needs constant parenting and incremental cost. The makeshift homegrown solution turns into a few weeks of “getting it just right” which later turns into couple of months of distraction for your engineers as they tweak all the random edge cases no one considered.

The bottom line – you end up spending literally hundred of hours building a tool which is neither core to your own business, nor one that helped you save any money. Even worse, you utilized your engineering resources elsewhere, while they could have been used to improve your core product which would have ultimately driven revenue for your business.

Quantitative Analysis of Build vs Buy:

The overall expenditure involved in developing a homegrown Messaging Suite for your mobile app, illustrated below, proves that even monetarily DIY is a bad use of your resources:

  • The price to develop a similar app like WhatsApp on iOS platform is approximately $26,400.
  • The price to develop a similar app like WhatsApp on Android platform is approximately $26,400.
  • Enabling CMS and Web Services, would cost approximately $16,800, thereby making the total investment approximately $69,600.

Congratulations! You spent 69,600$, an amount that could have given you access to Applozic’s Growth plan for 16 years at 369$/month. 

Surprised, well it doesn’t end just there. While your engineers were busy making the Messaging Suite they were actually not concentrating on making your own core product any better, and sadly this continues for 3-4 months which is the average time required for developing an In-App messaging feature.

Now lets say you had a recurring revenue of 20,000$/month and growth at a rate of 10% month-on-month, will amount to recurring revenue of 63,000$/month at the end of a period of 12 months. However utilizing your engineering resources in building a core platform capability, that could reduce churn or expand your market size, could have bumped your growth to say 11%. That would have meant 70,000$ worth of recurring revenue in an year.

Thus building your in-house In-App Messaging solution not only resulted in saving an insignificant amount of Cash, but also stifled your growth and future cash flows.

Qualitative Analysis of Build vs Buy:

Apart from the obvious monetary and resource implications, there are many more decision points that one should look into, before zeroing in on the final decision of Build vs Buy:

  • Completeness of Messaging Features: Building In-App chat that enables companies to build highly engaging mobile apps is a non-trivial task. Limited forecast of the scope, and
    non-familiarity with available chat protocols might result in overlooking any of the requisite Use Cases like offline notifications, background app processing, addressing Customer Support, surveys etc. Each of these new capabilities can result in extended development & testing timelines, hence it is important to assess the in-house expertise before embarking on a Build Strategy.
  • Multi-platform Support: Any in-app chat capability you build must support both iOS and Android, which means familiarity with the features and quirks of APNS and GCM respectively. Most businesses tend to hire and manage two separate teams for each platform, which can get costly especially if they each now have to also learn how to build messaging capabilities. Furthermore, this process gets more onerous if you add support for web messaging to the mix.
  • Scalability:  A cloud based SaaS solution like that of Applozic can help you to scale and pay as you grow.
  • Integration with Enterprise Systems: Most backend system such as CRM or ERP require custom implementation, hence need in-house expertise. Thus it is important to to utilize your in-house development resources – on delivering seamless back-end integration rather than building a standalone messaging capability.
  • On-going development and Support: If adopted, messaging and chat capabilities can go viral very quickly and become a core component of your users’ experience and a driver of business growth. Thus development of a Messaging Suite for your mobile app is not the end, it needs to be maintained just like any other core product capability that offers you competitive advantage. This would require additional recurring resources both monetary and human, unlike in the case of a SaaS solution where every new release will automatically upgrade your platform capabilities.

The Role of Messaging in the overall User Experience:

When time to market is critical, you need to decide if it is more important to focus your developers’ time on designing the best possible user experience or on building standalone in-app chat capabilities. If in-store app reviews and net promoter scores are a KPI, then user experience wins every time!

It is very important to have a strong understanding of the Business Goals and a deep assessment of the technology needed to achieve them before making a Build vs Buy decision. Ask yourself, “Do I work for a technology company that builds systems software or is my core business something else – manufacturing, retail, healthcare,eCommerce etc., and where should I invest my resources?”

If you belong to the second category, it is advisable to outsource and be done with all the worries for ever.

At Applozic Inc. we offer highly customizable and easy to scale, White Label SDK that helps to integrate chat in Web and Mobile apps be it on iOS or AndroidSign Up with us, and enable your web and mobile apps with our end-to end Communication Platform. Visit our Feature’s Page to learn more about our offerings. Feel free to contact us at contact@applozic.com for any queries and we would be happy to help.

Help us serve you better by providing your valuable comments and feedback in the section below.


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What should you know before implementing real-time messaging?

Digital Marketing has rapidly moved to an era which early age marketers have often dreamed about. The biggest worry for early online marketers was whether they would ever be able to compete with offline channels in providing a real-time 1:1 personalized customer experience.

The dream has already been fulfilled with help of real-time messaging. In-fact, online marketing will soon provide a smoother experience when compared to offline marketing with chatbots.

Customer experience has now taken a leap and has become a part efficient life cycle marketing model where buyers and marketers benefit together. For marketers who wish to increase their market share and gain competitive advantage adjusting to this evolution has become critical.

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Source: media.licdn.com

Marketers have identified the potential of the technology but are yet to deploy it effectively as a part of their customer engagement strategy. In order to successfully align real time messaging for customer engagement we recommend answering the following questions before making it a part of your website or mobile app.

  • Do you know who you are talking to?
  • Are you monitoring your customer’s journey on page?
  • Are you confident about your promotions? Does it click to your target audience?
  • Are you getting your messages delivered on time?

If you are not able to answer these questions, be sure that deployment of Applozic’s SDK on your platforms may not be effective. Instead, you should start strategizing according to your goals.Let us tell you how?

  • Detect who you are interacting with. Once, you understand, draft ways which will help you solve issues of your customer at the earliest.
  • Customer’s position in customer life cycle will help you determine what sort of journey he/she is into. Allocating the position on the graph helps you customize your interaction with the prospect and in case you don’t do this someone else will do.
  • Marketers today are focusing on creating a huge customer base and gain competitive advantage but customers equally understand their benefit so they take no time to move to one providing maximum benefit. So provide the best offer and experience as per customer’s profile.
  • Timing is very important, you must make all necessary arrangements so that user can interact with you or co-users the moment he wishes too.

In short,

You need to detect who you’re interacting with. You need to determine what journey they’re on. You need to decide which of your offers is best for that customer. And you need to let your user interact in time to make a difference.

In order to satisfy these aspects, real-time messaging and notifications plays a vital to assure a seamless user experience. We are working on some areas like:

  • Emotions: Real-time plug-in like Applozic brings that engaging response as people believe that instant message affirms their interaction with “via the nearest human” thereby evoking raw emotions. The ability of sdk’s to track down  if the message has been delivered or if the person has seen or not creates a fun new niche.
  • Security: Security is one of the most important area of concern globally. Applozic’s sdk affirm the prevention of any unauthorized access and publishing of personal information. Be it on the website or in-app feature we provide highly secure communication and control over your settings.
  • Intelligence: Artificial Intelligence is being built into instant messaging with the help of Chatbot. We are close to our first chatbot; in Beta already and here’s how you can get started to build one for your self it in four simple steps.

Real-time messaging is on its way to monetize at huge scale. With still evolving technologies like Internet of Things and bots, it seems to be a domain which will play a major role in redefining communication, personalization and customer engagement.

Applozic is formed with a vision to help business find a complete communication solution. Think about any type of conversation 1-to-1, 1-to-many, group chat, context based chat etc, you have it all at one place. It is a platform that offers application to user messaging, cross application communication, SMS and Email fallback support along with a dashboard that has rich insights and analytics. We also specialize in providing an efficient mobile commerce solution, know more at why integrating in-app messaging in your mobile commerce is important.