How Much it Cost to Build an Instagram-like App in 2019

4 min read

The winner for “The Best Mobile App” at Tech Crunch in 2010, Instagram was destined to succeed at its very first steps. At first, it was a small HTML5 check-in project but in a year it got an award “App of the Year 2011,” according to Apple. This and plenty of other rewards Instagram has received resulted in a huge increase in app’s usage.

How to build an Instagram -like app

So what lies behind this tremendous triumph? What initial resources were required to kick off such a project? And, finally, is it even possible to create an Instagram app of your own?

The answer is YES

As a company with a huge experience in mobile development, we’ll show you the right direction to the app of your dream. But first, why do you think Instagram got so famous?

Here’s a little a hint: it’s all about the power of the visual content. In our contemporary world, everybody’s rushing, no one’s got any time. There is no time even for reading. However, with the emergence of Instagram, people could take the information they want with a single glance.

The visual content is only one of the components of the Instagram app. However, its functionality is even greater.

But before you come to the implementation process, you need to understand the ingredients your app should have.

The Basic Functionality + Their Development Time

The UI and UX of the App

With the technological boom, everybody wants to experience the best technology without spending too much of their time and exhausting their busy brains.

So when it comes to mobile application satisfaction, most technology firms turn towards the applications’ User Interface and User Experience.

Make sure that the interface of your app is user-friendly and easy to use. For example, this is how the interface for one of our recent apps looks like.

image4 1 development

Building an Authorization

Nearly no social media app, such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook or Twitter can start without account authorization.

Usually, there are several options you need to offer your users.

  • In the first case, they can create a new account.
  • If they already have one, they need to have a possibility to sign in using their social media account or mobile phone.

How to Build an Instagram-like App
Behind the scenes
The information about your user’s data will be stored in a database.

If an authorization is carried out through phone, the app should have access to user’s SMS.

On the other hand, if the user logs in using his social network credentials, the authentication will be carried out through OAuth. OAuth is an open-standard authorization protocol/framework that describes how unrelated services and servers can safely allow authenticated access to their assets. It doesn’t share the initial, related or single logon credential.


How to Build an Instagram-like App

Create/Edit Profile

The possibility to create/edit a profile is a must-need for a social application like Instagram.

Users need to be able to build/edit profiles. This allows them them to start sharing their photos and videos. Additionally, people need to have the option of editing their profile, where they can change their personal details, profile picture, bio, and many other things.

How to Build an Instagram-like App

Behind the scenes
On the backend, this requires interaction between the server and the client side of the application.

How To Build an Instagram-like App


The next feature to do after building the profile is a real-time messaging feature. If you want your app to succeed, you just can’t avoid building a real-time messaging facility to your audience.

This means you’d also have to notify users about the messages they get. As a result, this implies creating notifications.

Instagram has a cool feature that allows users to communicate with each others within stories. This can be compared as if speaking to the public but getting the personal replies.

A user can create questions for their followers, ask them to make suggestions, create polls, and keep the engagement going on within the platform within the platform with the image, short video, or even plain text.

How to Build an Instagram-like App

Behind the scenes
If we take a look under the hood, we’ll see that the client-side of the application occasionally sends requests to the server in order to track new messages. To protect the server from overloading, you can implement RESTful API over HTTP instead of using permanent socket connections.

How to Build an Instagram-like App

Uploading the Photo and Video

Uploading photos/videos is a must-need for any Instagram-like app.

The users should be able to add their photos from their devices or from any other sources.

How to Build an Instagram-like App

Behind the scenes
Since the implementation solutions are different when it comes to the development for various platforms (for Android or for iOS), you need to determine the platform beforehand.

How to Build an Instagram-like App

Photo Customization and Editing
As soon as the users uploaded a photo, they would probably want to customize it. To meet the challenges of your users, you need to work on the photo editing capabilities.

The main challenge was to create unique photo filters and integrate them with the application. We collaborated with a professional team of photographers, who created for us outstanding photos. Using the photos and complicated development algorithms, we built the app with photo filters that are born to impress.
How to Build an Instgram-like App

Behind the scenes
There are several options. You can use the standard filters or build them from scratch as it was with our case.


How to Build an Instgam-like App

Integration with Social Media

Despite the fact that Instagram is a social networking service, you also need to connect it with other social media platforms.

Users communicate using various social platforms, where they are chatting, sharing information, photo and videos and much more.

If you take a look at Instagram, you’ll see that it allows the spreading of user content to other social networks. People can easily link their Instagram profile with other social media accounts, such as Twitter, Facebook and so on.

Behind the scenes
You need to establish a connection between the social media account ID with the app account ID if you want your app to be linked with other social media networks. In most of the cases, it’s usually implemented using OAuth on the server-side of the application.

How to Build an Instagram-like app


Almost no social media app can exist without a geolocation feature. This feature facilitates users with providing their exact location while posting a photo or video in their profile.

Behind the scenes
There are various APIs that can help integrate this feature into your app. The choice depends on a platform and feature you need to build.

For example, if you’re making an Android app, you’ll need to use the class of android.location package and maps service by employing the MapView class.

On the other hand, for iOS app development, you’ll need CLLocationManager Class and maps service using the Map Kit framework.

How to Build an Instagram-like App

The Search Option

Another crucial feature for an Instagram-like app is a search-option feature. The Search Option can help people in finding their friends, groups and known acquaintances on their social media apps. Additionally, they can get familiar with the hot topics that are currently in trends on the social media platforms.

The users need to choose the preferred option and the backend server offers the desired results.

How to Build an Instagram-like App


Imagine your app is done. What’s next? How can you make a profit from it? Let’s take a look at the revenue model of Instagram.

The revenue model of Instagram is very unique and has been constantly evolving. The great part of their revenue comes from sponsored posts that are very similar to the normal ones. The main difference is that they display a sponsored tag and a call to action button.

  • Instagram stories are one of the most polished forms of sponsored posts. They pop up on a user’s newsfeed as they are browsing through the stories of other users who they follow.
  • Carousel Advertisements. One of the features Instagram provides is known as carousel advertisements. Simply put, this allows companies to tell their own tales through a series of images that appear in a carousel form.
  • Facebook Ads is a unique earner that allows posting ads on Instagram through Facebook, even if they’re not registered on Instagram.

The Bottom Line

Building an Instagram-like app is not an impossible task. However, it certainly requires some resources, efforts, right strategy, and most importantly – a loyal team for the development.

To make the process even simpler, we prepared a list of the main steps that you need to follow when building your app.

  • Determine why your idea is unique
  • Find your target audience
  • Analyze the market and your competitors’ products
  • FInd the developers and make your MVP
  • Add some features that will make your app unique
  • Don’t forget about testing and maintaining your app

Instagram became a highly popular application as it provided users with unique features and gave people something that they didn’t have. The basic feature, which is followers and following, gave people a boost to increase their self-esteem by a simple fact that people are been followed by vast people.

Follow the Instagram path. Find something special, something unique.

Remember that every project may have a long path of trial and error before it becomes truly successful. However, we’re always happy to share with you our experience and help you avoid mistakes.

We have a rich experience in developing a photo editing apps so building, testing, and maintaining Instagram-like apps is our area of expertise.

Tell us about your idea and our developers will make for you a plan with a unique estimate of its implementation.

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