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How to Build your Own Real-time Chat App like WhatsApp?

by Sharon James

Chatting apps have become a very important part of our day to day lives. Starting off as simplistic chatrooms for the purpose of small talk to becoming a crucial aspect of large business, chatting apps have started to hold a very crucial position. Instant messaging has the power to keep us engaged by keeping us updated with things every single second.

Chatting apps have pushed the limits of the kind of comfort and convenience that can be achieved on a daily basis right at our fingertips.

In today’s day, there are plenty of chat apps like WhatsApp that have gained immense popularity across all social boundaries.

In fact, the amount of time we spend on chat apps have exceeded the amount of time we spend with the same person in person in a lot of cases. Through most of the chat apps, you can exchange pictures, videos, voice notes, locations, links to other media and much more.

through a screen has become much more personal than before. With the need to constantly stay updated with all kinds of personal as well as Interacting business-related information, chat apps like WhatsApp are in demand. Hence, this is the perfect time to come up with an app with similar features.

History of Chatting Apps

A good chat app should have the solution to any kind of communication that is required by the two parties. The parties should be able to exchange all kinds of media including pictures, videos, and audio files. In case the parties are unable to communicate by text, a voice note functionality should be available as well. The parties should be able to share live locations with each other as it will help them coordinate with each other better.

Chat apps like WhatsApp are even experimenting with newer forms of technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Bots. Hence, an ideal chatting app should be able to fulfil all communication requirements including business communications, personal chats, e-commerce chat customer support and so on.

Looking at how successful WhatsApp has been in recent times a lot of investors are looking to invest in apps of similar nature. There are newer chat apps coming up with newer and more competitive features in order to get an edge in the market. Even though WhatsApp may have the biggest share in the chatting market at this point in time, there is plenty of scope for you to develop a similar app as well.

If you have an idea for a chatting app that has competitive features that WhatsApp does not have, there are high chances of you finding success in the market. Hence, your aim should not be to develop an app similar to WhatsApp but to build a modern chatting app that does everything that the WhatsApp app does and more in order to fulfill all chat needs.

Building an Instant Messaging Application

First, Understand how chat application works, What are the things that WhatsApp and other similar chat apps got right?

You have got to give credit where it's due. There is no other chat app in the market out there that has managed to pierce through the market as well as WhatsApp, so before you think on how to create a messaging app like whatsapp. It would be a smart decision to study what exactly are the things that these apps got right before starting to work on your own chat app.

  1. Erlang: The chief programming language used to develop WhatsApp is called Erlang. The reason why this particular language was chosen by WhatsApp was because of its amazing performance speed, speed, and scalability. The programming language used for these chat apps ensures that a high volume of short messages can be processed at very low latency. Erlang also ensures that the garbage collector allows the codes to be updated instantly in order for different functional optimization.
  2. Ejabberd: Numerous chat apps use open source jabber in order to enhance its operational efficiency. Furthermore, this is also optimized for the anticipated results. It uses the XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) protocol to make sure that the message delivery system works over any given local area network or the internet. The Ejabberd server consists of certain pluggable modules with a diverse range of chat app features such as:
    • Message Archive Management (MAM)
    • Privacy setting
    • Account Spoofing
    • Ability to store and forward offline messages
    • Personal Event Protocol (PEP) and Message typing specification
    • Multi-User Chat (MUC) or Group Chat
    • One-on-one personal chatting
    • Contact actual and present listing
  3. FreeBSD: WhatsApp has been built on FreeBSD. This is one of the reasons why the app is able to smoothly transit over a billion messages across the globe on a daily basis. FreeBSD was chosen by various chat apps due to its delicate network stack and extensive reliability. Moreover, FreeBSD being a single distributor has plenty of advantages in terms of installation and providing easy creation of binary packages.
  4. YAWS: YAWS or Yet Another Web Server was written entirely in Erlang as well. Chat apps use an embedded mode in which YAWS runs as an embedded web server in another Erlang application. What makes YAWS special is its ability to handle concurrent processes in the most efficient possible way while possessing high performance.
  5. PHP: Another open-source language used by various chat apps in PHP. PHP is famous for its performance and reliability. When combined with AJAX for powerful web development technology to display data from the database, an extremely responsive chat app can be created.
  6. Lighttpd: This is another open-source web server optimization tool that is used by popular chat apps. This lightweight web server is even used on WhatsApp in order to obtain a secure, flexible, fast and compliant feature.
  7. Custom XMPP Server: The XMPP server can be used to reduce the chat app’s byte of keywords and improve its functionality. This technology is primarily used to allow the exchange of messages in real-time. The XML format used, is human-oriented and is not supposed to be read by any kind of machine learning.
  8. BEAM: BEAM is a virtual machine used to run Erlang. It has a number of built-in functions such as an if-simple network interface tool. The BEAM interface is mainly used by chat apps in order to support functions such as schedulers, processes, message passing, memory management, multi-core and so on.
  9. HTML5 WebSocket: The WebSocket feature in HTML5’s main purpose is to establish a solid connection between the server and the web browser. The data associated with WebSocket is directly sent over a socket. This ensures faster and persistent communication between the server and the web browser.
  10. Mnesia DB: This is an Erlang-based real-time database management system. Mnesia is a soft database that allows storage of messages, files, images, videos, documents and other multimedia files that are running on the app. The reason why Mnesia DB is extremely efficient because of its potential to store vast amounts of data.

Chat App Features to Make a Chat App Successful

  1. VOIP phone call: Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) is one of the basic functionalities that all chat apps must-have. This is used for voice communications and multimedia sessions over the Internet Protocol.
  2. Video calls: In order for parties to have more personal communication over the phone, a video call feature is a must-have.
  3. Group calls: In order for multiple parties to have a communication call, be it for either personal uses or business-related, a group call feature can be a big advantage.
  4. Cloud Service Sync: A cloud resource platform synchronizations that will allow you to monitor, update, store and scale the hosting environment.
  5. End-to-End Chat Encryption: Privacy is one of the most important aspects about a chat app. Having user safe encryption in order for security from third party infiltration is very crucial. Prioritizing private data of users by using advanced encryption technologies can provide your chat app with an edge in the market.
  6. Multimedia support: There is a wide range of file formats out there. If your app supports multiple file formats for voice notes, animations, GIFs, documents, contacts and locations, it is already at an advantage.
  7. Self-destructing messages: One of the features used by ‘Snapchat’ a popular social media chat app is ‘self-destructing messages’. This enables the user to send a whisper to the part of their choice, which gets deleted on its own once opened.
  8. Geolocation integration: An accurate geolocation service will enhance the quality of a real-time communication network
  9. Calendar sync: Having the chat app synchronize with the calendar will make planning and remembering events much easier.
  10. Multi-platform chatting: Often people would prefer to use the laptop while at their desk. Hence having a multi-platform feature will enable users to use their phone from their desks and on the go as well.
  11. Monetization: Choosing appropriate monetization strategies for your chat app will enhance the revenue generated from the app. This can be done in a variety of ways depending on your business model. Some of the ways are listed down below:
    • Free
    • In-app payment
    • Mobile advertising
    • Sponsorships
    • Subscriptions
  12. Payment Integration: WhatsApp has recently started testing their new WhatsApp Payment service which will enable users to transfer money to another user from within the WhatsApp interface itself.
    • UPI: Unified Payment Interface is used by WhatsApp for their WhatsApp Payment service. This is one of the payment modules which is very secure and user-friendly while allowing instant payments.
    • VPA: Every bank account has a registered email address. Virtual Payment address uses this email address that can be shared publicly instead of an IFSC code or a bank account number.
    • MPIN: MPIN or Mobile Banking Personal Interface Number is a 4-6-digit pin that is used to authenticate all the transactions that are carried out using the UPI.


Chat apps are one of the most happening online trends today. Building an instant messaging application like whatsapp can be profitable as they have become an integral part of people's personal as well as professional lives. If you’re looking for real-time chat app development solution. Get in touch with us to know how we can help you create your modern age chat app.