chat app api

How To Build Own Chat App for Android And iOS Platforms (Complete Guide)

It is a great idea to build a messaging app like WhatsApp or Telegram, but you must know about the technologies and features used to create it before that.

Messaging is now a part of almost everyone’s daily communications. As a result, the popularity of messaging apps is higher than ever; people use chat apps to communicate with friends, family, and business entities.

The ability to message apps to provide instant connectivity of people in real-time with text chat, voice, and video calls are the attractive functionality of these apps. 

Now let’s start to understand the features, technology required to build an instant messaging app for iOS and android.

Build Chat Platform Like WhatsApp

Although there are few predominant chat apps in the market like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, the opportunities and need for messaging apps is constantly growing and inclining towards a specific purpose and target audience.

While Slack is dominating enterprise communications, Instagram and Snapchat are popular among millennials. .

chat app users

  • A study by Statista reveals that the number of mobile messaging app users will reach a 3 billion user mark in 2022.
  • Research shows that WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app, with two billion. Monthly users, followed by Facebook with 1.3 billion users.
  • As per the research study, the global instant messaging apps market size will reach a CAGR of 7.1% between 2020 and 2025.

Features To Have in an Instant Messaging Platform

Today, all the popular chat apps were once plain text messaging apps, but now these apps come with advanced features like voice, video calls, recording, media sharing, pay bills, and more. Moreover, if you look at the leading messaging apps, they allow interaction between two users or multiple users; this is possible because of XMPP(Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol).

Below, you can find detailed information on features that stands as the base for any messaging app. In addition, you will find out how you can build a chat app for iOS, android, and web platforms.

chat app features

Mandatory Feature-Set Build Chat App

Every software house needs to include the following features when building a chat app

1.Authentication

The authentication feature allows users to log in using either a phone number, email, or social media account and helps avoid unauthorized access to apps.

2. Reliable Messaging

The app should function well even in low internet coverage zones and ensure it follows the standard protocols to deliver the message without duplication and getting lost. 

3. One-to-One and Group Chats

Any messaging app must provide two options for its users: exchanging chats between two individuals and another to carry group chats inside the same chat rooms.

4. Video & Voice Calls

Mobile & Web Chat apps should allow users to do beyond messaging, video, and voice calling from within the app, letting them stay connected with friends and family without exiting the app.

5. Push Notifications

Messaging apps with push notifications eases the accessibility of messages by the users; they pop up on top with react suggestions, and thus, the missing of notifications is negligible.

6. Multi-Platform and PC Synchronization

The app must be easily accessible from all iOS, android, web and have a convenient synchronization of users, data over the network. 

7. File Sharing

This feature allows users to share all media files, photos, and documents and increase user engagement within the app.

8. Encrypted Messaging

Secure communication is what users expect from a chat app. Therefore, end-to-End encryption is a must-have feature, where deciphering the encrypted message happens at the receiver’s side.

Looking at the increasing demand of users and the consistent growth of instant messaging apps, the Scope to build team messaging app with the above-listed features for a specific audience base is high. In addition, adding some unique features will make it appealing to the users.

Also Read : Guide To Fintech App Development

TECH-STACK To Build Chat APP

Have you ever thought about what technologies are behind these messaging apps that make them unique and so functional? Here are the three major back-end components in developing messaging apps.

build chat platform

 

Erlang 

Erlang is a dynamic and concurrent programming language to build soft real-time scalable applications and handle multiple connections for multi-user chats. Widely known for its speed, performance, scalability, and it uses a garbage collector to update codes instantly for optimization.

Golang

An open-source programming language Golang, is syntactically like C, has memory safety and garbage collection. It follows a CSP(communicating sequential processes) style concurrency. Go quickly complies into native codes and is perfect for scalable, cloud-servers, and performance optimization.

Kotlin

Kotlin is a cross-platform and general-purpose programming language that has type interference. And it’s a free and open-source code. Its design enables it to interoperate completely with Java and is popular for tool support, clarity.

In addition to these components, there are many other back-end languages that suit chat app development.

However, a mobile chat app development will not depend on these components mentioned above; it also depends on factors like the device’s OS(Operating System) and uses different APIs, IDEs, and SDKs for iOS and android.

Tech-Stack To Build Chat App for Android

 To develop a Chat app for android, you need Java and kotlin. But, creating a native application with mobile and desktop compatibility is possible for android apps as you get all tools, API, SDK from Google. So, here’s the preferred technology stack for android Chat apps are:

Platform: Native

TechStack: Programming Languages suitable is Java, Kotlin

                        Toolkit used is Android Studio.

                        SDK used is Android SDK.

                        UI Framework is Android UI and Jetpack Compose.

Tech-Stack To Build Chat App for iOS 

To develop an iOS Chat app, you need Swift. Unlike android, to create a native application with mobile and desktop compatibility, the chat api for ios app you need comes from Apple. Hence, the preferred technology stack for iOS chat apps are:

Platform: Native

TechStack: Programming Languages suitable is Swift

                        Toolkit used is Apple Code.

                        SDK used is the iOS SDK.

                        UI Framework is  UI Kit and SwiftUI.

So, Here’s How to Create a Chat Application like WhatsApp

Understanding all the technical details about chat app development is too demanding. Explicit learning into the features and tech stack alone is not enough to create an instant chat app like WhatsApp; you need to know how it works.

Hence, to get more profound knowledge, we have classified the development into six components: server-side software stack, back-end or programming language, protocols, operating system, database, and the frontend.

chat app android

SOLUTION STACK – SERVER

You need to select the solution stack based on your requirements, from LAMP, MEAN, LAPP, and others. Whereas WhatsApp uses the LYME/LYCE solution stack, with only one change in the OS modification. 

WhatsApp uses the customized Ejabberd to cope up with heavy server loads.

PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE

As far as the scripting language, you can go for Erlang, the rarest scripting language.

Erlang is one reason for WhatsApp’s success. However, while this expressive language helps you build a messaging app for android, ios and the web, its high cost puts several app developers to prefer other scripting languages like Node.js, C/C++, Java, Ruby, Scala, etc.

PROTOCOLS

For the network protocols, opt any one of the XMPP from the servers. OpenFire, Prosody, Matrix.org, Ejabberd are some popular and efficient ones. For a secure and reliable protocol, MTProto and Signal are the best. 

If you cannot pick an XMPP from above, you can create a protocol that meets your requirement.

OPERATING SYSTEM

Selecting an OS, an Operating system is very crucial for instant real-time chat platform development. The OS forms your app’s base, and determining how it will react with other components is thus needed.

WhatsApp developers migrated from Linux, the standard OS of LYME/LYCE, to the Unix-like FreeBSD system.

Thorough learning of development tools will help you release your applications faster, saving money and time.

chat platform

DATABASE

Identifying the database you will use in your app comes from your business strategy. For example, a quick launch of an app requires one type of database, while if you are looking for a long-term and scalable app, you opt for some other.

WhatsApp uses the Mnesia database as it is standard for Erlang. However, if you need a scalable and auto-failover, then choose Cassandra and MongoDB is best for fast iterations.

FRONTEND

Coming to the Client-side, development depends purely on the OS of the device. For iOS, you use Swift, and for android, you usevs Kotlin vs JavaThen comes whether you are planning to develop on a native platform and you are going to make a web version for your app. 

Bottom Line

User expectations are increasing every day. Building a chat app that fulfills all users’ needs and meets your business requirement is quite challenging. Messaging apps now offer everything to their users, from text messaging to video calling and payment services. So, if you do not have an expert in-house software team, you can always look for software development teams who help you get the best web chat apps and messaging apps for iOS and android custom-develop to meet your requirements.

Richard John

Richard is Marketing analyst and technical blogger .He contributes to prestigious blogs like DZone, Habr, and Medium

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