How to create WhatsApp in 2021: Messenger Development Guide

Want to create a messenger application like WhatsApp? Well, you are not alone among business owners who are pursuing this business idea. But only a few proceed from considering to developing. 

For creating such a project, you need to be aware of WhatsApp's main functionality like application, technologies behind those functions, and costs for developing such a project. 

In this article, we've described all these points. But before digging into the smallest details, let's look at the bigger picture to find out whether it's worth investing in messaging app development.  

Should you create a WhatsApp-like project for your business in 2021?

whatapp app development guide


People prefer messaging applications to SMS, calls, and email clients like Gmail because messengers are more convenient than other communication means. Below we have some numbers that prove that messaging apps are up and running: 

  • Statista reports that as of October 2020, 2 billion people are accessing their WhatsApp account every month, and it is one of the most popular mobile social apps worldwide 
  • The chat apps market will keep up with this overall growth, and by 2025, users will make four out of five mobile connections with a smartphone
  • The messaging apps' average revenue per user is expected to exceed $15 by 2020

After considering all the information above, the messaging apps market will continue to grow, and that there is still room for new messaging apps.

But before you create a WhatsApp-like project and enter the messaging applications market, you need to get to know your potential competitors, i.e., other most popular chat apps as of right now based on the number of monthly active users.

statista most popular messaging apps


Now, it is time to determine what steps you need to take to create your WhatsApp-like messaging project. 

How to create a WhatsApp application in 4 steps

Step 1.Determine the project's MVP features list.

Create the list of the most critical instant messaging project features to build an app's MVP (minimum viable product), i.e., the first project's version. 

Step 2. Pick an outsourcing company

Find the development team that will satisfy your time, quality, and cost requirements. To get a clue on requirements for a development team and tips on choosing the right developers, read the article about outsourcing mobile application development without failing

Step 3. Launch the discovery phase

During the project discovery phase, developers create functional and non-functional requirements for your business project, project technical documentation, suggest its architecture, write user stories, prioritize functionality and create a clickable prototype. 

the app solutions mobile app prototype example

[The APP Solutions example of project's prototype] 

Step 4. Initiate the development phase

Developers use the project's tech documentation as a backlog for building the project's MVP. The design team creates drawable screens for your business application using a clickable prototype's design as a reference.

mobile app development stages at the app solutions

[Mobile app development process: steps and dev team members]

After all these steps, you receive the first version of your WhatsApp clone, ready for a release on the application marketplaces. In your experience, all the phases take 4-7 months to complete.

But it is your responsibility to take care of fundraising for the second development phase to improve your business project and market the project, so you receive the first users right after the MVP release. 

To save you from searching for all the necessary functionality, we've created a feature list you can use for your project. So, let's check it out. 

Creating a WhatsApp-like project: main features and tech stack

Instant chat applications allow users to exchange text, audio, video messages, and calls in their WhatsApp account and group chats. There are many functions of WhatsApp. But you don't need to integrate all of them at once. Below we gathered the most important functions: 

Login and profile

For the first time a user opens the app, one needs to sign in and create a WhatsApp account by providing one's phone number. 

  • The application sends a message with a confirmation code to the user's phone number, so one can log in to a WhatsApp account using the verified phone number
  • After verifying the user's phone number, the user can create a WhatsApp account with a name and photo
  • When a WhatsApp account is created, the user can add contacts to the WhatsApp account from contacts, save them, start sending messages and create group chats

Message exchange

The application must store the conversation history in the WhatsApp account or a group chat and provide users with it if they logged in on another device like WhatsApp, which doesn't keep the messages on its server.

whatsapp message exchange functionality


Notifications inform users when a new message arrives on the WhatsApp account or a group chat. To add this feature to the app, our developers will use:

  • Google Cloud Messaging 
  • Apple Push Notifications

Multimedia file transmission

Consider enabling your users with file sharing functionality that allows sending their photos, gifs, etc along with text messages. You can find WhatsApp file sharing functionality in dialogs in the upper right corner.  

sending multimedia files 

It also makes sense to use synchronization with cloud services, including: 

  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox 
  • Evernote

Location sharing

The option to share your location can be beneficial for people who are going to use your application. To create a location-sharing functionality for different operating systems, our developers use: 

  • Apple MapKit 
  • Google Location SDK

Now, let's answer such a pragmatic question concerning the amount of money you will spend for your project - what does a new WhatsApp-like app cost? 

How much does a WhatsApp-like business application cost?

Let us take a look at the table with the main MVP features for a WhatsApp clone and the estimation in hours. 

Registration and address book information

Message exchange

  • iOS 25 hours
  • Android 32 hours
  • Backend 47 hours


  •  iOS 12 hours
  • Android 16 hours
  • Backend 16 hours

Multimedia file transmission

  • 25 hours for iOS
  • 32 hours for Android
  • 40 hours for the backend

Location sharing

  • iOS 12
  • Android 16
  • Backend 8

Total: from 208+ hours for the iOS app, and from 231+ hours for the Android app.

Want to get more precise numbers?

Use our project cost calculator 

The approximate cost to create a WhatsApp app depends on the number of features, but an essential estimation based on developers' assumptions starts from $55K.

Create a WhatsApp-like application for business: Key Takeaways

Messaging applications are gaining momentum. The most popular messaging application, WhatsApp, includes over 2 billion active monthly users, followed by Facebook Messenger and WeChat. 

To create your WhatApp-like project, make sure you're using the steps we listed: 

  • Gathering features
  • Finding developers
  • Initiating the project discovery phase 
  • Launching the development phase

While developers will implement the functionality and the design of your application, don't wait time. Learn how to raise funds for further improvements for a WhatsApp-like business project and investigate marketing strategies to apply to attract users to your project. 

If you are looking for a development team to answer your questions concerning your business idea, you can rely on us. Contact our business development department to receive a free consultation. 

Related readings: 

Case Study: Video Streaming App Proof of Concept

Elena Vodovatova