Messenger apps


Messenger apps – bringing people together

Messenger apps are the most widely used mobile apps, used every day by billions of people all around the world. Globally, Whatsapp is the most-used messenger app, while Facebook Messenger is the top in the USA.

We can trace their roots back to the 1990s, when instant messaging platforms became popular thanks to the rise of the internet. In the early 2000s, these allowed for sharing of photos and making video calls. Modern messenger apps boast features such as increased security, messages that disappear after a set period of time, and integrated games and payments.

Messenger apps require a high level of security, with mainstream apps operating with end-to-end encryption (E2EE) so that messages are secure and can only be read by the sender and receiver. When planning development of a messenger app, it’s important to take into account the infrastructure needed, which needs to scale to support a potentially large user base.

The history of Facebook Messenger

Facebook Chat – Messenger started life as Facebook Chat, an instant messaging platform on Facebook, in 2008.
Standalone app – In 2011, Messenger was launched as a standalone app on Android and iOS.
Games – In 2016, Facebook began allowing users to play simple games with friends via the app.
Instagram integration – In 2021, cross-app integration was launched, allowing for chats between Messenger and Instagram.
User growth – After being separated from the main Facebook app, Messenger had 600 million users in April 2015. This grew to 1 billion by July 2016, and 1.2 billion by April 2017. By 2021, Messenger was the fourth most-used social platform in the world with 1.3 billion users.

Features common to messenger apps

User registration and authentication. Messenger apps commonly use phone numbers for this but security and privacy concerns mean that there is an audience for other methods.
Delivery and read receipts
User presence indicators (Online, Offline, Away, etc.)
Typing indicators
The ability to mute conversations or groups
Reactions to messages
@mentions with groups to notify a specific person
Support for gifs, stickers and emojis
URL enrichment, which shows previews of websites shared in the app

It’s important to note that messenger apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and Signal have all been developed over many years and there have been several iterations of them in that time. To create a brand-new app, you’re looking at around 3-6 months of development time after the initial market research has been done. The app development will cost around R800 000 to R1 million.

If you’re looking to develop a messenger app

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