How to Make a Photo Sharing App Like Snapchat

Yesha Bhatt

By : Yesha Bhatt

How to Make a Photo Sharing App Like Snapchat1

People have become so accustomed to texting that they’re actually startled when the phone rings. It’s like we suddenly all have Batphones. If it rings, there must be danger.

Now we answer, “What happened? Is someone tied up in the old sawmill?”

“No, it’s Becky. I just called to say hi.”

“Well you scared me half to death. You can’t just pick up the phone and try to talk to me like that. Don’t the tips of your fingers work?”

Ellen DeGeneres beautifully sums up the shift in communication. Typing and not talking is how it is now. Messaging apps are exploding – even more strongly than traditional social media platforms.

Do you know WhatsApp has more active users than Instagram?

With the widespread increase of social messaging, entrepreneurs want to know how to create such apps. One such app that everybody, including Facebook, has blatantly copied is Snapchat.

But here’s the paradox – all the attempts to compete with Snapchat have failed to attract an audience. For instance, Slingshot, an instant messaging software application for sharing photos and videos, lasted only 18 months till Facebook discontinued it. There’s more which we will discuss later in the blog.

If you are considering starting with Snapchat like app development, we want you to take this article as a warning. Our aim is to highlight why building an app like Snapchat is not a great idea and what the alternative is.

Here’s what the blog covers:

What Nobody Told You About Your Snapchat Clone Idea

Do you know the story format of Instagram originally comes from?

You guessed it right. Snapchat.

Last year, Facebook launched Threads, a messaging app for Instagram users. The app is for close friends, opens directly to the camera, and you can add a story. Again, just like Snapchat. However, There’s nothing new about the incessant attempts of assault to build an app like Snapchat . But in trying to steal Snapchat’s thunder, Snapchat like app development have not worked well. Let’s see a few examples.

1. In 2012, Facebook launched an app called Poke. People called it an app like Snapchat because the main purpose of the app was to let users send self-destructing pics and videos (Just like Snapchat). FB, in 2014, put an end to it saying it was ‘more of a joke’.

2. Last year, Instagram shut down Direct, the standalone direct messaging app. Instagram didn’t give any reason, but maybe the ‘depressingly low usage’ may have killed Direct.

Despite several attempts to kill Snapchat, it has always proved that if you can’t stop them, power them. For instance, to retain their grip on the story feature and overpower copycats, Snapchat takes a step further and syndicates stories to other apps. Users can now post Snapchat stories to their dating app profiles.

Now here, we would like to take this opportunity to give you a head’s up.

For tech giants, attempting and failing to create an app like Snapchat is not going to make much of a difference given their massive user base and of course, cash. We do not recommend building a Snapchat Clone. Instead, a good idea is to create an app like Snapchat and focus on improving the features.

Now you ask how to make an app like Snapchat and make it better. One way is working on creating a better UI. Snapchat’s UI is confusing. The app opens on camera, and the user has to swipe around the screen to navigate other areas. This makes it difficult for those who are new to the app. How quickly the user adopts your app highly depends upon the UI design. It should be easy to learn and easy to navigate.

When you build an app like Snapchat, focus on improving both the user interface and experience. Ensure that the elements in the app are well-defined and easy to understand.

Tip: Always focus on the bigger picture i.e. user experience and not just the interface.

Well, that was all about highlighting why it’s not a smart thing to work on Snapchat clone script.

So, if you are convinced, let’s move further!

You have a Snapchat app like idea but do not know where to start? Let us provide you answers on how to make an app like Snapchat:

To build an app like Snapchat, you first need to know what makes Snapchat so unique. Let’s find out.

What Makes Snapchat So Unique?

Snapchat has become a phenomenon. With 398 active monthly users as of July 2020, Snapchat is the 6th most popular messaging app. Across the world, it remains popular for both Millennials and Gen Z.

So, why is Snapchat so cool?

Let’s find out.


Customized filters, ads, search, map, etc. help make the experience unique. And Snapchat, like other apps, works on individualizing content and giving things context. Personalization in Snapchat includes

  • Personalizing the discovered content: if a user shows interest in sports, then they will see more sports-related content.
  • Search Screen: the app personalized the search screen to highlight the content that interests the user. For example, on their birthday, users get a special lens to celebrate and share with users.

The app even provides relevant ads which aids the personalized experience. Moreover, be it pictures or videos, the app allows users to customize the content the way they like. Users can add text, filters, draw their own images, use geo-filters, and more. All the interactive filters on the app such as airbrushing filters, face-swap, accessory overlay, etc. make the experience even better.

So, when you are working to build an app like Snapchat, make sure you pay attention to personalizing content. With AI techniques, you can match the right content with the right customer.

At Biztech, we use AI-powered personalization to deliver unique digital experiences. Want to know more about how to create an app like Snapchat using all the latest technology?

Self-destructing Messages

Snapchat has debunked the myth that what goes on the internet remains there forever. Both the uniqueness and popularity of Snapchat lies in self-destructing messages. After setting a time on the snap, it will disappear once viewed. This approach strengthens privacy and reduces the risk of the content being distributed illegally on the internet.

However, with screenshots or third-party screen capture apps in the market, you cannot guarantee privacy, but this feature is popular among the young crowd. It enables them to share the most original pictures or videos without any restrictions.

Over and above this, another major appeal of the app lies in the user’s control over the content. For instance, the ‘My Story’ function allows only permitted users to view the content. The time span for the story depends on how active the user is. It can be for a second or for hours. Is the snap for a particular friend or for several selected people? that the user has complete control over.

This way, Snapchat’s ability to personalize, and giving complete control to the user are the two reasons why the app is so cool. Also, Snapchat’s easy to use communication tools like video-chat or special curated emojis for chat is why the word is snapping!

Evan Spiegel had the idea of self-destructing messages back in his university days. His friends hated it. 2 years later he launched Snapchat. Do you think you have a unique idea? We will identify, answer all your doubts on how to create an app like Snapchat, what you want to do, and help you with an extensive research to create the foundation for your app.

Before we start talking at length about the features and tech tools there’s something we think you should learn from Snapchat. Both from its success and failure. So, if you are wondering how to build an app like Snapchat, here’s the takeaway. That will help you understand the social messaging app better.

Lessons to Learn from Snapchat

1. What makes you unique makes you successful

Customers stick to those brands who stick to what makes them different no matter what. All the attempts to kill Snapchat only made the company more popular. The company never gave up on what made it unique. The concept of self-destructive messages was novel, so, despite everything, users never gave up on Snapchat.

Tip: Focus on what makes you unique and keep going.

2. A clear understanding of the audience

The main audience of Snapchat is between 18-30 years old. Have you finalized whom you want to cater to? The first and foremost rule in creating an app like Snapchat is defining a target audience. This will provide a clear focus on which audience segment your business will serve.

Tip: You can go for a larger audience but statistics reveal that nearly 70% of millennials say social networking apps are among their most commonly used.

So, now let’s explore how to build an app like Snapchat.

How to Build an App Like Snapchat

In this session, we will discuss everything that you need to know to build an app like Snapchat.

Features to Include

What’s a messaging app without powerful features? Let’s see some amazing features that you will use when working on building an app like Snapchat.

1. Filters

One of the most effective ways to increase user engagement is by including filters. Filters are popular because they demand engagement. Taco Bell, experimenting with Snap filters in 2016 found that users spent an average of 24 secs before clicking their pictures on the brand’s AR filter.

These filters will allow you to give unique experiences, and because they are a sharable form of content, you will get brand visibility. From regular filters like black and white to make-up filters or festive-based filters, there’s a lot that you can offer. Before you make a decision, make sure to research what filters people prefer.

2. Lenses

The difference between filters and lenses can be confusing. So, here’s what you should know – filters are static. They sit on an image or video. Lenses, on the other hand, are goofy animations that cannot just change the appearance but also change the sound.

AI is everywhere around us. Why should your app lag? The deadly combination of machine learning and AI will ensure users engage with your app. The latest trend in this feature is the ability to see younger or older versions. Even the gender-switching lens is popular, in fact, Snapchat’s active users rose to 203 million when they introduced this lens.

We recommend taking advantage of augmented reality to create a range of filters from bunny ears to changing the skin tone.

Features Of Lenses
3. Stickers

The fun we had as kids to add stickers to anything we owned is still here. Because social messaging apps offer stickers, Snapchat included. When building an app like Snapchat, make sure to include stickers that will brighten up the online communication.

Stickers are images that users can use to customize their pictures. Snapchat offers both stickers they have created and lets users customize them. You can offer bitmojis, GIFs, custom stickers, time-stamp, temperature stickers, and more.

You can even monetize this feature by offering branded packaging of paid stickers to users. Stickers are digital; therefore, the possibilities for personalization are limitless. It will make sharing moments for your users more happening.

4. Geo Filters

Such features are popular in an app like Snapchat. This feature, too, offers filters. The Only difference is users can use it in accordance with the location. For instance, if the user is in the middle of a street and there’s a local event happening nearby, your app will allow users to add that location illustration to their snaps.

This feature is an excellent option to monetize your app. With on-demand geo-filters, brands can pay you to create custom filters for their advertisements. For instance, Hubspot created a geofilter for its Partner’s Day. It encouraged partners and employees to highlight the best moment of the day using this filter. More brands are experimenting with this geofilter sponsorship. There are ample opportunities for you.

5. Stories

Snapchat is the pioneer of ‘my story’ feature, which allows users to create stories with photos and videos that are available for 24 hours. When creating an app like Snapchat, we do not recommend ignoring this feature.

What we also do not recommend is copying the same story format in your app. Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, and even Twitter have a story feature. So, the feature in itself is now new.


(Snapchat lets users show off their story content in other apps too!)

What you can do is, of course, take inspiration from them but come up with something within the feature that can make you different. It could be anything; you can allow users to directly record voice and send it in a group chat, you can add polls or question/answers, whatever you can imagine.

6. Message and Video/Audio Calls

E-chatting should be fun. Think beyond ordinary text messages and add elements of fun to them. Just like Snapchat, you can offer self-destructing messages too. But make sure it offers an exciting user experience.

Another must-have features your app requires is video/audio calls. These features for communication are as important as photo filters. We suggest not compromising and instead try to meet the needs of users. Sending snaps on a video call, adding GIFS, emojis to chats – there’s a lot you can do.

7. Discover

Discover is a unique feature of the Snapchat app that allows users to see public content/stories that others put. It’s almost like a personalized feed. Users can find content from news publishers, other brands, and celebrities, which ranges from news to product demos. The app also allows users to subscribe to a channel.

Again, this is a great monetization method where you can charge news companies and brands to let them display their information.

8. Search for Friends

Snapchat teaches to bring some innovation even to simple things. Take for example, the search feature. Every messaging social media app has this feature. You search by name, location, profession, etc. Snapchat offers a unique option called snapcodes. These codes appear on the home screen of the app, and someone can scan the code to add the person to the friend list.

9. Memories

Capturing moments is always special. Snapchat shows its users about the snaps that they have captured a year from now or two and helps them relive the moment.

Who wouldn’t want to see them!

10. Auto burn

Since the technology existed, security has been a very important issue for anyone. And with Snapchat, this thing changed. They came out with this unique feature, which is also their USP i.e. “burning”. Snaps sent or received burns automatically in the few seconds or time set by the sender.

We believe that feature-rich platforms can help businesses create a unique experience, and enhance the app usability. Our team always keeps a track of emerging technologies to provide scalable and feature-rich solutions. Are you ready to develop an app like Snapchat? Reach out to us and we will be your one stop solution on how to develop an app like Snapchat.

Technology Behind Face Filters

If you are thinking about how to develop an app like Snapchat, you have to figure out what technology works behind face filters since filters are going to play a major role in your social messaging app. Creating face filters is not as easy as you think. It involves complex areas of computer vision called image processing. We have broken down the process into 5 main points for your clarity.

1. The first step is face detection. Here, the algorithm scans the image looking for color patterns. This helps to know if the nose is darker than other areas of the face or cheeks are lighter than the eyes. These patterns help distinguish the face in the camera.

2. The Next phase is facial landmark extraction. Here you determine facial features such as the chin, nose, eyes, lips, forehead with the help of specific algorithms in a 2D image.

3. The third step is face alignment, where we try to fit the filter based on coordinates of landmarks on a particular face.

4. In the fourth step, we create a 3D model of the user’s face to check if the filter animation fits. Again, we use a 2D image to create the model.

5. The final step is face tracking, which locates the 3D mask in real-time. This enables the user to move their face without the filter disappearing.

To carry out these operations, you will need to choose a suitable API. Here’s what we recommend

  • Google Cloud Vision API for Android
  • Google Mobile Vision iOS API
  • Microsoft Cognitive Services
  • Core Image API

As you can see, technology is not new, but it is also not simple. To perform these processes requires a lot of processing power and knowledge about complex algorithms. We expertise in working in areas of computer vision. To know how it works for the filters you wish to create.

Android or iOS: What to Choose?

You have to decide between the Apple store and Google play store. But how? Most entrepreneurs are in this dilemma of which platform to build the app first. So, we thought it’s best to share some insights here.

The major difference between these two platforms lies in the audience. Who are you targeting? Since you are building a ‘cool’ app like Snapchat, you want to cater to a younger audience.

So, does your young audience use Android or iOS? 43% of iPhone users are between the ages of 18-34 as compared to 39% of Android phone users. In this case, building an app like Snapchat for iOS may be a better choice. If you are targeting a broader global audience, then maybe you want to custom build an app like Snapchat for Android users.

The second factor that will affect your decision is the estimated time and cost of development. Android powers many devices with different screen sizes. This increases development time and costs. On the other hand, there are limited devices in iOS. This speeds up the development process. However, a lot depends on the app complexity and the features you want.

How Can Biztech Help

We are an iOS and Android development company dedicatedly working through every step of your journey towards success. Whether you are planning to make an app like Snapchat for Android or iOS, we follow agile methodology to deliver what you want. Here’s what the development procedure in our company looks like

Phase 1 Requirement – We create initial documentation stating everything from features to the end-goal you want to achieve.

Phase 2 UI/UX Design – First, we create a rough UI/UX mockup and refine the concept only after reviewing.

Phase 3 Development – This is the longest phase and the backbone of your project. We develop your app in accordance with the approved guidelines.

Phase 4 Testing – In this stage, we focus on ensuring that your app is bug-free by conducting a series of tests.

Phase 5 Deliver – That’s it! Your app is with you, ready to go live.

Whether your app is going to be awesome or not is what the tech stack decides. The tech stack depends on your requirements. But here’s a list of some common technologies that you need to consider when building an app like Snapchat:

A. Development Language – Bootstrap, Java, Python, Objective-C for iOS, and PHP.

B. Cloud Hosting – AWS (Amazon Web Service) for hosting, Google compute engine to manage overall data storage.

C. Database Management – NoSQL to handle such a large amount of data in an efficient way.

D. Analytics – Google analytics tool to analyze traffic and collect data necessary to improve app performance.

E. Supportive – Zendesk for customer support.

From choosing the best development language to deciding what features to add, we can help you develop a perfect app.

Now, let’s find out what your monetization strategy will look like.

How to Monetize your App

First, we would like to share insights on Snapchat’s monetization model. If you want to build a Snapchat duplicate app, this will help you formulate a strategy.

Snapchat’s revenue increased 52% to $679 million in the third quarter of 2020 as compared to the last year. This success comes because of a clear model that the company follows. It includes:

  • Advertisements: Snapchat primarily earns through advertisements. (a) Snap ad that pops up within the regular content. (b) Story ads on Snapchat’s discover feed where it earns from media corporations who want to broadcast their content.
  • Branded Geofilters: As we discussed before, Snapchat charges brands to create custom geofilters for their advertising campaigns.

Let’s see how you can make money by building an app like Snapchat.

1. Freemium model – a commonly used monetization strategy where you offer the basic functions and features of your app for free, but users who want to use advanced features pay you via subscriptions.

2. Advertisements – a best option for starters. Users using the free Snapchat app will see ads (video or pictures), and if they think it’s too annoying, then they can go for the paid version, which will not have any advertisements.

3. Lenses and Filters – brands or influencers who want to create custom features for their events or marketing campaigns will pay you for designing filters.

Here at Biztech, we not just help our clients develop their apps but also help to formulate the right monetization and marketing strategy. Let’s discuss your Snapchat-like idea.

All product and company names are trademarks™, registered® or copyright© trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

Get a Free Consultation

    ✓ 100% Guaranteed Security of Your Information