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How To Develop an App Like TikTok

July 26, 2022

How To Make an App Like TikTok: Development Guide

Learn the secret to TikTok's success and create your own app using short videos. Inspiring involvement and community building via features, actions, and techniques. Lead the viral revolution of the future!

Dasha Rizoy

Head of Business Development

Have you ever found yourself watching TikTok for hours in a row? Don’t blame yourself, we have all done that. Often it’s not about the lack of self-discipline but about the TikTok app algorithms that make us continue to scroll. For some people, this app is just full of entertaining videos with cute animals, for others, it is a full-time job. And there's no doubt that the TikTok app has become a full-on phenomenon. It’s now the most popular app in the world and you’ll find out how this social media app made it.

What is the TikTok App?

With 1 billion users as of 2024, TikTok is a video-sharing app that not only enables users to make short videos but also constantly drops in templates, tutorials, video effects, stickers, voiceovers, music, etc. The app is generally mobile-based, yet you can still watch videos on the web. The app is available in 60 countries and is in the fifth place in the popularity list globally. Now, let’s unveil how the app works and discuss all the ins and outs of how to make an app like TikTok.

Number of Gen Z users in the United States on social media platforms
Source: eMarketer, May 2021

How does TikTok work?

Taking the world by storm, TikTok shows its users bite-sized videos made by other users and thus grows interest in what comes next. But what exactly is it about these bite-sized videos that have captivated billions? Let's go further into TikTok's inner workings, investigating its features, the magic behind its algorithm, and why it's become such a cultural force.

When TikTok had just started it was all fun watching lip-syncing and dance challenges, and then it switched to a much richer tapestry of content. Little by little it enabled the platform to switch to a more open one and engaged users interested in nearly everything from education tutorials and life hacks to hilarious skits and heartwarming animal encounters.

TikTok interests screen

But how the algorithm work to engage such several users? The secret sauce behind this transformation lies in its sophisticated algorithm that personalizes the For You Page (FYP) for each user. This carefully curated feed keeps millions glued to their screens, eagerly anticipating the next captivating video. The FYP is not just random. It's a complex system that takes into account a multitude of factors, including:

  • User activity: Likes, comments, shares, and watch time all play a role in determining what videos you see next. The more you engage with a video, the more likely it is to appear again.

  • Subject matter: Based on your initial signup information and subsequent interactions, the app categorizes your interests and recommends videos that align with them.

  • Sound, hashtags, and effects: These elements act as tags, guiding the algorithm to suggest similar content.

  • Language and location: TikTok considers your language preferences and location to tailor content to your cultural context.

  • "Not interested" feedback: You have the power to shape your FYP by indicating what you don't like. This helps the algorithm refine its recommendations.

Yet, TikTok's success isn't solely driven by algorithms. It's also a platform built on community engagement. Duets, challenges, and collaborations foster a sense of connection and belonging. Users can interact directly with creators, making TikTok feel more intimate than other social media platforms.

The basic function of TikTok is that users can film videos of themselves lip-syncing, dancing, or acting out sketches. Videos - or TikToks - can be up to 15 seconds long, but they can also connect multiple clips for up to 60 seconds of total recording. Recently, TikTok expanded the time limit to three minutes for most users. Users can also upload longer videos that were recorded outside the app.

TikTok also has video editing and customization tools. Users have access to a library of songs, effects, filters, and sound bites to add to their videos. They can also “duet” with someone by replying to a video, creating split screens and endless reactions.

TikTok feedback screen

Top 10 Key Features of TikTok

But what features made it go viral? These are ten of the key features that have made TikTok such a global phenomenon. But before we pass to describe each of them, we recommend turning them into a kind of checklist to somehow integrate them when creating an app like TikTok. Now, here's a closer look at each one:

FeatureiOS Development, hBack-end Development, h
Profile Editing 4050
Upload Video3035
Filters & Effects150150
Video Editing140160
Likes & Comments4520
Video Sharing10-
Total time475490

Short-form Video Creation

Until now, no other TikTok alternative has matched such a level of flexibility and engagement when it comes to short-form videos. The key attraction of TikTok lies in its focus on brief, vertical clips (now up to 10 minutes!). This format, with its simplicity and versatility, perfectly fits our fast-paced world with its short attention spans. Creators can use it to showcase their experiences, ideas, and talents in a clear, concise, and captivating way.

Music Integration

What users love the most is the vast amount of music integration that no other TikTok clone has. The platform has a huge collection of licensed music and popular sounds. So, users can sync their lips to famous songs, add music to their films, or even create their original soundtracks. The use of music in videos in this way enhances their creative value and makes them more engaging and appealing to share.

Duets and Collaborations

Next up, the app encourages collaborations through features like Duets and Stitches. That is users can record themselves alongside another video, often adding their twist or response. Meanwhile, stitches let users clip a segment from another video and incorporate it into their own, creating a sense of continuity and shared storytelling. These features foster a sense of community and make TikTok a platform for creative exchange and co-creation.

Trending Challenges

The core of TikTok revolves around hashtags and challenges. Similar to dares, but using themes, dances, or jokes instead of words, they encourage users to show off their style. With the "For You" tab, users can easily discover new trends and artists, and the continual flow of new information keeps everyone captivated.

Consider it a huge competition where everyone may participate by bringing their unique style. As a result, the site remains lively and users can discover interesting new content.

Personalized Feed

With TikTok's "For You" feature, your very own personal ghost will bring you videos that you're going to like. It keeps track of your viewing history and preferences, so you can enjoy more of what you love and discover new, personalized content. From your favorite stars to lesser-known treasures, it's like an endlessly entertaining party that gets better with each scroll. Get ready for an unlimited trip on TikTok by ditching the map and letting "For You" be your guide!

User-friendly Editing Tools

The editing features of TikTok are like an action-packed suit for narratives! Trim, cut, add text, sprinkle on some sparkles, and you're done! No technical expertise is required! A work of art is born: yours. You are the director now, so go easy on that spectacular flop or pump up the pace of your dancing skills. This accessibility unleashes a flood of hilarious, inventive, and fantastic stuff because it makes everyone a maker. It's as if everyone is given a megaphone to express themselves, whether it's via laughter, stories, or voices. Get ready to embrace your inner Spielberg and be a part of the TikTok revolution! All you need is your phone!

Is there anything else you're curious about regarding TikTok? We may explore the lively neighborhood, the music scene, or anything else that interests you!

In-app Effects and Filters

You may transform your videos into something completely new using TikTok's extensive library of effects and filters without running several analogs. Do you aspire to be picture-perfect? If you use a beauty filter, your skin will seem smoother, your eyes will look more radiant, and you will have that Hollywood glow in an instant. In the mood to play? With the use of augmented reality overlays, you may transform into a cat, perform alongside your favorite pop artist, or even have dinosaurs trample all over your living room.

In need of seamless scene transitions? The use of modern transitions gives your video a polished, expert look.

Rather than being just decorative elements, these effects and filters serve as powerful creative tools that enable you to experiment, convey tales in novel ways, and create films that genuinely shine. It's as if you had access to a complete crew of special effects artists, waiting to materialize your most fantastical vision.

For You Page Algorithm

TikTok's "For You" page is way more than simply a feed—it can read your thoughts! This artificial intelligence genius tracks your every move, creating a profile of your specific tastes in entertainment. Afterward, it sets off a customized video snowball, combining beloved faces with hidden treasures that you will quickly get obsessed with. The content curators work like a personal hype squad, always looking forward to your next chuckle and leading you down a rabbit hole of unending entertainment. With this never-ending supply of discoveries, you'll be hooked to the app for hours on end, learning about up-and-coming artists and trends long before they become popular. Put an end to aimlessly flipping between channels; the "For You" tab provides limitless, personalized enjoyment!

Live Streaming

If you want to hang out with your favorite creators, TikTok Live streaming is your ticket! Leave the recorded stuff at the door and come celebrate with us in person. It's completely spontaneous, unrehearsed, and full of surprises. You may ask them anything, see exclusive content, and even take part in contests and product demonstrations. It's as if you're a member of a massive online chat room where the energy is electric. Not only that, but viewing isn't the only important part; creating a community is. Feel the love with thousands of other fans as you chat, respond, and give virtual presents. It's the secret to making friends among fans and making everyone feel like they belong. Get in on the action the next time you see the "LIVE" indicator by tapping in!

Engaging User Community

The TikTok community is an entire celebration, not just a gathering. Everyone is invited, from up-and-coming talents to your favorite creators. It resembles an enormous game of likes, comments, and shares, in which both humor and originality flow freely. Have an intense interest in dance? Enter a competition and demonstrate your prowess. Interested in discovering how to produce the ideal cake? Locate a masterclass within moments! This inexhaustible playground of connections and trends elevates TikTok beyond a mere platform; it becomes a family. You will discover support, exchange personal anecdotes, and develop cross-border and screen-spanning friendships. So put your FOMO to rest and dive in! Even though the party has begun, there is still space for one more guest.

TikTop Social sharing

6 Steps To Create An App Like TikTok

TikTok's meteoric rise has captivated millions, redefining how we create, consume, and share content. Its addictive blend of creativity, community, and bite-sized entertainment has captivated audiences worldwide. But what if you could harness this energy and carve your niche in the short-form video landscape?

Type of workiOS developmentBackend development Total number of hours
Features development 475490965
UX/UI design100-100
Framework integration306090
Project management --200
Total Time--1,721

Ready to dive into the world of captivating content? Here's a roadmap to guide you through the process of building a social media app like TikTok.

Step 1: Define and Research Your Target Audience

To create an app like TikTok, delve into extensive audience research. Beyond demographics, comprehend user interests, content preferences, and existing platform pain points. Identifying a niche within TikTok's broad audience could be advantageous for standing out.

To effectively cater to users, move beyond basic demographics. Analyze their preferences, behaviors, and content inclinations. Explore the types of videos they consume and create.

Understanding their pain points with existing platforms can guide your app's differentiation strategy. Identifying a niche subset within TikTok's vast user base allows you to cater to specific interests, fostering a dedicated community.

  • Go beyond demographics: Don't just think about age and location. Understand their interests, behaviors, and content preferences. What kind of videos do they like to watch and create? What are their pain points with existing platforms?

  • Identify a niche: While TikTok appeals to a broad audience, catering to a specific niche can help you stand out. Consider focusing on a particular genre, community, or activity.

Step 2: Outline the Business Model

Your app's sustainability relies on a well-defined business model. Explore multiple monetization avenues, such as in-app advertising, subscription models, collaborating with brands, or facilitating virtual gifting. Delineate your app's unique selling points (USPs) that set it apart from TikTok and other competitors. This distinctive value proposition will attract users and potential partners.

  • Monetization options: Explore different ways to generate revenue, like in-app advertising, subscriptions, brand partnerships, or virtual gifts.

  • Value proposition: Define what makes your app unique and how it will provide value to users and businesses.

Step 3: Select the Tech Stack

Choosing the appropriate tech stack is pivotal for the app's performance and scalability. Opt for programming languages, frameworks, and developers that ensure seamless scalability, robust security, and efficient development. Given that video content is central to your app, prioritize technologies that excel in video processing and delivery.

  • Choose reliable programming languages and frameworks: Consider factors like scalability, security, and development speed. Popular options include React Native and Flutter for cross-platform development.

  • Focus on video processing and delivery: Invest in robust technology for handling user-generated video content efficiently.

Step 4: Focus on UX (User Experience) Design

The user interface and experience significantly influence an app's success. Prioritize a user-friendly interface that simplifies video creation, editing, and sharing. Incorporate personalized features that allow users to tailor their content discovery, fostering engagement and retention.

  • Prioritize simplicity and intuitiveness: Make it easy for users to create, edit, and share videos.

  • Personalization is key: Design features that allow users to customize their experience, like feed preferences and content discovery algorithms.

RegionAverage UX/UI Designer hourly rateTotal price
North America$45$4500
Western Europe$40$4000
Central Europe$30$3000
Latin America$20$2000

Step 5: Commence the Development Process

Commence development by building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Start with core features and functionalities to test the app's viability among a limited user base. Emphasize robust security measures to protect user data and maintain trust.

  • Start with an MVP (Minimum Viable Product): Begin with a basic version of your app with core features and test it with a limited audience. This allows for iterative development and user feedback.

  • Prioritize security and privacy: Implement robust security measures to protect user data and content.

Step 6: Launch and Foster Application Growth

Once the app is ready, execute a comprehensive marketing strategy. Leverage targeted advertising, influencer collaborations, and community engagement to increase visibility and attract users. Continuously analyze user data and feedback to adapt the app, introduce new features, and enhance user experience.

  • Develop a comprehensive marketing strategy: Reach your target audience through targeted advertising, influencer partnerships, and community engagement.

  • Analyze user data and adapt: Continuously monitor user behavior and feedback to refine your app and add new features that keep users engaged.

Remember, creating a successful app like TikTok takes time, dedication, and constant iteration. These 6 steps are a great starting point but be prepared to adapt and learn as you build an app like TikTok.

What is the cost of building an app like TikTok?

TikTok-style app development is a complex process that involves teams, working with influencers and stars, thousands of hours of work, creativity, building basic features, and coming up with a unique code. Just as with any other social media app, it’s hard to say the exact TikTok app development cost because many factors influence it.

RegionCost of iOS development Cost of Back-end developmentCost of Project managementCost of UX/UI designCost of QA engineeringTotal price
North America$4500$7200$7000$4500$9450$32660
Western Europe$4000$6600$7000$4000$8100$29700
Central Europe$3000$6000$6000$3000$5400$23400
Latin America$2000$3600$3000$2000$2700$13300

Why Choose Yellow to Develop An App Like TikTok

We know after reading the article, you wondered where to find someone to develop an app like TikTok!  Look no further! Instead of an individual, a skilled team stands prepared to develop app like TikTok that will go viral in no time. With extensive experience in software development and a track record of successfully launched apps, Yellow is the perfect match for bringing your future app to life.


With the promise of a 15-, 10-, or 60-minute burst of fame, TikTok has become an economic symbol.  Some of them find that it becomes a life-changing money machine. In comparison to other social media sites, brands' worth and earnings on this one grow. It seems that everyone involved can gain from TikTok. 

The suggestion mechanism and straightforward logic of TikTok are its secrets. Due to its hyper-personalized feed and the ability to record and share videos, it has a reputation for being very engaging and addicting. Plus, you won't require any abilities in video editing at all!

🎶 How does TikTok make money?

TikTok generates revenue from ad revenue and in-app gift purchases. The ads function synonymously as those from other social media platforms: advertisers select their target demographic and TikTok places this messaging in front of the advertiser's desired audience.

🎶 How long does it take to make a TikTok-like app?

On average, it takes approximately 1,200 hours to create an MVP for iOS.

🎶Which programming language is used in TikTok?

Just like Instagram, TikTok's mobile app for iOS was written in Objective-C and later transitions were made to Swift, Apple's modern programming language for iOS app development. For Android, the TikTok app was developed using Java and later adopted Kotlin.

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