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How To Build A Private Messenger App Like Signal

App Development

May 2021
1977 Views 12 Minute Read
how to build a private messenger app like signal
Nowadays, as technology advances faster, it has become increasingly important to guarantee security because there are malware attackers everywhere to hack your data and do malicious activities. In an era where extra protection is required, social media apps also need proper security and two-factor authentication. Especially during these days, online communication often entails privacy and safety due to people using fake accounts or hacking someone's profile, leading to identity theft.
Moreover, if you might not be aware, Whatsapp has been severely criticized for compelling users to approve its new data-sharing policies. Henceforth, several users are seeking an alternative app that renders them safety and security.
This January, Whatsapp launched a privacy update that startled its users as the new policy forced users to Accept to enable Whatsapp to share their data like mobile network, location, battery level, and other details.
Moreover, the in-app notification stated that Whatsapp would gather some information to render, enhance, understand, operate, support, and promote their services, including when users access, download, or use their services. This led to an outcry amongst the public as no one wants their privacy to be hampered no matter what.
Amid all of this, Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, tweeted about the app Signal. Considering his 42.5 million followers, it would be easy to lead them to Signal, which wasn't so popular before. After his tweet, Signal saw a massive spike in its users. This surge was so huge that servers had a hard time coping with it. However, the situation was managed well, but at least it shows one thing that this private messenger app is on the rise.
To your surprise, the fame of Signal rose to the extent that app installs grew close to 18 million in only a week! Amazing, isn't it. If you wish to create such an app, it's better to introduce the Signal app before moving further.
This blog will cover the following topics;
- Signal: A Private Messenger App
- What makes Signal app the Most Secure Messaging App?
- How does this Private Messaging App function?
- How does the Most Secure Messaging App Earn Revenue?
- Key Features To Build an App like Signal
- Advantages of A Private Messenger App Like Signal
- The App Development Cost to Develop a Private Messenger App like Signal
- Final Words
Signal: A Private Messenger App
Millions use this secure messaging app for free & prompt communication in the world. This private message app enables private-preserving tech for you to focus on sharing memories with those who matter to you. With the growing set of features, you can also send & receive high-fidelity messages, make video calls, and explore other stuff.
This secure messaging app was founded by the co-founder of Whatsapp, Brian Acton, and the app was first launched in 2014 that only stored the users' contact details. This is an open-source, centralized encoded messaging app that uses the web to share individual or group messages such as videos, audio, pictures, documents, and files. This app is present on both Android and iOS platforms.
Remember privacy should be your first & foremost priority; otherwise, it defeats the purpose of using a secure messaging app. All calls and texts on the app are end-to-end encoded, meaning no 3rd party, not even Signal, can access these calls or texts.
Moreover, to give Whatsapp users a familiar feel, the Signal app has rolled out a wide variety of features such as wallpapers, picture editing tools, animated stickers, and more. Let's move on to those features that make this private message app the most secure app to date.
What Makes Signal App The Most Secure Messaging App?
what makes signal app the most secure messaging app
This app earned the most secure messaging app title after learning about the blunders made by Whatsapp in January 2021 regarding its privacy policies. Moreover, Signal also offers incredible features that augment the user experience. Below are the features that make this app the most secure:
1. Screen Lock
All mobile phones come with a screen lock feature. Signal allows you to put an additional layer of security by locking your screen without installing any third-party app, unlike Whatsapp. You can even use Touch ID to access the app.
You can go to Settings > Privacy to add a screen lock. In privacy, scroll down to the screen lock and turn the toggle to ON. Easy, isn't it!
2. Solid End-to-End Encoding Without User Records
Signal has become well-known due to its end-to-end encoded communication feature, which means that all messages sent and received are end-to-end enciphered. Security & privacy are the top features of this app.
The signal app doesn't track your calls, and every text or data sent across will be seen only to you and the person on the other end.
3. No Screenshot Allowed
This is another layer of privacy protection. This app offers a feature to disable screenshots inside the app. Like Snapchat, you can disable other users from capturing chat screenshots or even from the chat menu. Isn't that amazing?
You can enable this feature, however! Simply go to Privacy settings by clicking on the profile icon. Then navigate and toggle on the 'Screen Security' tab.
4. Disappearing Texts
This one's a savior. As it helps you get rid of evidence and prevents you from getting caught. You can delete the texts that you don't want to keep, but sometimes we might seem to forget about it. This is when Signal saves your day with its 'Disappearing Message' feature.
Disappearing message feature erases all the messages from your phone and your friend's phone once it has been seen. And even if you want to retrieve it, you cannot.
To activate this, go on the contact's name, move down to 'Disappearing messages' and switch it ON. You can then view the slider where you can specify when the texts should erase.
5. Disable The Texts From The Lock Screen
Isn't it annoying to see the messages come up on the lock screen, and someone near you is trying to look over your phone to see the text? So, rather than seeing the preview message on the screen, you can adjust the settings to get notified by the name or something that says 'New Message.'
To enable this feature go to the Settings, scroll down to notifications, and click on notification content.
All these security features allow you to use the Signal app full-fledged. Several other features such as 2FA, Note to self, Incognito keyboard, etc. that makes Signal better in every way than Whatsapp in terms of security.
How Does This Private Messaging App Function?
how does this private messaging app function
This app's main working principle is end-to-end encoding, which means the messages are encoded on one phone and then decoded on the one who receives it.
How Does The End-to-end Encoding Work?
- When two users talk over the app, it results in 2 sets of keys.
- The private key stays on the user's phone, while the public key is on the Signal's server. 
- When one user messages another user, the public key is retrieved & is used to encode the text. This ensures that it's available only via the private key. 
- Later, the text is sent to the user via server and decoded with the private key to the receiver.
While the data on Signal's server is in encrypted form, it's unreadable without the private key, and decoding it is next to impossible as it is time-consuming. Isn't that mindblowing that the servers that actually transmit the messages also cannot read what they are talking about?
Encrypted communication is totally digital—for instance, a picture, text, audio call, video call, or email. You must take into account that both sides of the transmission would be using the Signal app. Therefore, you can only send and receive the text on the same app.
This private messenger app uses its own encoding method called 'Whisper Protocol.' This encoding type makes the app safer as it uses multiple layers of security that make the possibility of data violation almost impossible.
Besides this, other things that make this app the most secure one are;
- Screen lock
- Blurred images
- Disappearing texts
- Encoded calls
After looking through all the safety aspects of this app and how it functions, let's move on to the monetization model of this app.
How Does The Most Secure Messaging App Earn Revenue?
This app is the creation of the Signal Foundation, an NPO. The Signal app doesn't focus on profit since it is an NPO. It mainly focuses on the security and privacy of its users by keeping their data secure. Signal takes an oath to respect and secure the user's private chats and calls and works on it.
This open-source app uses contributions from investors and several foundations to keep running. To date, they have received millions and are functioning quite well for years now. Some of the most noteworthy investors of these contributions include Tesla's founder, Elon Musk, the Knight Foundation, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Open Technology Fund, and the Shuttleworth Foundation.
Now that you know the app's revenue model let's move on to essential features for developing such an app.
Key Features To Build An App Like Signal
key features to build an app like signal
At present, most smartphone users use more than one messaging app due to their convenience. Several features contribute to creating an incredible app like Signal.
First, we will go through some basic features which you must, without fail, incorporate into your messaging app.
1. Registration
Once your user installs the app, they should be able to sign up with your app by mobile number, email, or social media account. A messenger app like Signal is usually based on a mobile number.
2. User Profile
This is where users' details and other essential features such as contacts, FAQs, etc., are saved.
3. Push Notifications
This one tends to increase the user retention rate 3 times and boost user engagement. It notifies the user of the received messages, and push notifications informs users when their favorites are online, message received, and much more.
4. Chats
The top messaging app renders both individual and group messaging functionality.
5. Attach Files
As much as users like to exchange texts, memes, and documents, they also want to attach files to their messages. Incorporating this feature would especially help professional users.
6. Customization
Users can change their display picture and disable notifications if they find it annoying. You can also enable users to block a contact and save their favorite contacts.
7. Voice And Video Calls
This is another essential feature of the best messaging app you must implement. This will enable all-in-one inside your app and allow users to make corporate phone calls to maintain high-quality communication.
8. Disappearing Texts
This is one of the stand-out features as it destroys all the messages and media files by allowing users to set a timer to do so if they forget to do it.
9. 2-Step Authentication
Two-step authentication secures users' data in case their mobile is stolen. Therefore, you must consider this feature and render password, fingerprint, PIN, verification link or code, etc., to ensure users' safety.
Okay, so these are the basic features that you must undoubtedly incorporate in your app. Now, let's discuss some stand-out features that will take your app to another level.
1. Stickers & Animated Images
Stickers & motion images are fun and engage your users. They became trendy during FB messenger times but captivated users when Telegram began offering them for free. Earlier, Viber was also providing stickers, but only some of them were free. Moreover, texting can include personalization options such as filters, themes, chat wallpapers, etc.
2. Invite People
The feature to invite family and friends and create a new group is the top thing users check when they use a chatting app. This feature is crucial to give the app access to the users' contacts.
3. Security Setting
This app has got the most secure messaging app title due to its security setting feature that includes blocking screenshots, screen lock, and much more. After witnessing Whatsapp privacy policies, Signal contemplated whether their data will be protected or not, and privacy became the app's finesse around which it implemented security settings.
4. VOIP Feature
A secure messaging app like Signal offers a steady internet connection despite your internet speed being slow due to the 'Voice Over Internet Protocol' feature.
5. Private Messages
Disappearing text or lockable chat could add up to your success. Imagine how much your user would appreciate if you saved them getting caught by timely deleting their messages as per their set timer.
6. Share
Share feature allows users to share documents, media, contacts, files, status changes with their contacts effortlessly.
7. Erase The Message
This one allows you to erase a text sent mistakenly. You can incorporate this feature that will enable users to erase the message shared before it's seen. It has become an essential feature of any messaging app nowadays. Instagram, Facebook, and Whatsapp, all these social media apps have this feature.
8. End-to-End Encoding Feature
This is mainly the reason for this app's popularity. Privacy and data security are the app's finesse. This feature makes it next to impossible for 3rd-party invaders, marketers, and even service providers to read user's chats except them.
These are some of the advanced features that will indeed make your app worth using.
Advantages Of A Private Messenger App Like Signal
advantages of a private messenger app like signal
How can you benefit your users with this private message app? Here is a list of a few benefits that your users can enjoy while using your secure messaging app.
1. All Round Security
This one's self-explanatory. A signal-like app can render its users scalable security. They get end-to-end encryption through this app. Their chats are safe with them and can only be decoded by the receiver. Moreover, they can set a timer to disappear the messages once read, a very cool feature. Therefore, while building your secure messaging app, you must absolutely add an additional layer of security for your users.
2. Sophisticated UI
Besides being super secure, it provides a rich UI. Every app developer knows that an app without a rich UI will fail to attract users. It is the basic need that prevents the churn rat and engages the user. A good UI also drives more revenue for your business.
3. Trustworthy Technology
More technological advancements lead to more security. Daily tons of apps are being developed with powerful security features where encoding is given the least or the most importance. The best part is you don't have to bother about cybercriminals as its code is open-source, and you can look for the backend to avoid fraud.
4. Affordable
You can encode your app cost-effectively without spending a fortune for security, but only some of it will go well. Cost guarantees the app's security these days. Also, it benefits the business, as the app development cost is both helpful and competitive, building more loyal clientele worldwide.
5. Boosts Efficiency
This is another awesome feature that offers workflow efficiency. An extra layer of security always works as prompt messages with sensitive data are being shared with complete trust. This enhances the workflows and efficiency in the business.
The App Development Cost to Develop a Private Messenger App Like Signal
The cost to create a mobile app is based on the time taken for development, and location plays a huge role as well. Apart from this, the following factors are also considered to determine the cost of your app.
- App features
- UI/UX design 
- Back-end development
- Testing
- Team Structure
- Number of platforms
- Complexity
If you are considering developing an app like Signal, you should know that the app development cost depends on several factors making it impractical to provide you the exact cost. However, we can give you a rough estimate of the cost which can be around $30,000 to $60,000.
Now, for the iOS platform the cost can be around $40,000 to $45,000, while for Android it can be around $45,000 to $55,000. Remember that these are just rough estimates; the actual figure can vary depending on your requirements.
Final Words
Security is seen as one of the prime things that an app should have. It is one of the most concerning issues worldwide. Not every business can develop an end-to-end encoded app, but imagine that it can lead to massive success if you plan to build one.
Indeed, several apps dominate the market already, but there is still and always will be room for exceptional quality apps and render a high level of security.
If you want to create one such app but don't know how to begin, you can contact Hyperlink InfoSystem; our efficient team members will always assist you and discuss your ideas.
Hire the top 3% of best-in-class developers!

Harnil Oza is the CEO & Founder of Hyperlink InfoSystem. With a passion for technology and an immaculate drive for entrepreneurship, Harnil has propelled Hyperlink InfoSystem to become a global pioneer in the world of innovative IT solutions. His exceptional leadership has inspired a multiverse of tech enthusiasts and also enabled thriving business expansion. His vision has helped the company achieve widespread respect for its remarkable track record of delivering beautifully constructed mobile apps, websites, and other products using every emerging technology. Outside his duties at Hyperlink InfoSystem, Harnil has earned a reputation for his conceptual leadership and initiatives in the tech industry. He is driven to impart expertise and insights to the forthcoming cohort of tech innovators. Harnil continues to champion growth, quality, and client satisfaction by fostering innovation and collaboration.

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