People around the world are used to chatting online about everything, including discussing the latest episode with a friend, organizing a team-building meeting, or asking your favorite coffee shop’s chatbot about new flavors. Texting is not the only available functionality: now you can send all types of media, record voice messages, or even make video calls.
Numbers and statistics are also on the side of chat apps. The overwhelming majority of studies show that instant messaging is becoming more and more popular among users worldwide.
In the US, instant messengers are the second most popular means of communication after social networks.
The usage of more traditional ways of text communication like SMS is decreasing. Instant messaging is winning the battle in interpersonal relationships and communication between customers and brands.
Latin America has become one of the strongest market regions for chat apps, especially for WhatsApp. Since 2016, the percentage of WhatsApp users only increases.
If you want to make your chat app a reality, it’s essential to consider the most crucial parts of functionality that will make users love it. Here’s the list!
Most of the apps today require some kind of sign-up and sign-in, and chats are no exception. To get access to the chat’s functionality, a user must register in the app and create a profile. The simplest way to do so is with a phone number and further validation through an SMS. Another way to implement authentication and verification is via email or a popular social media profile like Facebook or Google. You can also make a two-step authorization to prevent strangers from accessing users’ data.
The way you choose for your app mostly depends on available resources and your target audience. When users have their own profiles in a chat, they can easily log in on any new device.
Synchronization with a cloud service will allow the app to save and store message history, images, audios, and other types of files, and keep them up-to-date without clogging the device’s memory. It’s possible to access all the files at any time from that storage method if the Internet connection is active. In addition, if the user makes changes to files and messages from their devices, it will apply to the existing copies, all thanks to the cloud.
Cloud integration is a great option for those who need backup to access the profile from multiple devices, so if the user loses or damages their phone, they can restore everything on the new one. Additionally, cloud backup has two more important functions that will help you protect your business. First, it will help you monitor the customer service quality, and second, the backup will protect you from unwanted visitors.
All industry giants like WhatsApp and Telegram use cloud backup for most types of data users send to each other, so you should include this feature in your app from the very beginning.
Data protection is an imperative issue in the digital world. People want their messages and files to be secure from strangers and companies want confidential information to be safe from fraud. One of the app’s primary tasks is to guarantee privacy to its users.
The most popular way to implement it is to use end-to-end encryption, which means that particular messages will be seen only by dedicated users. It ensures that both sender and recipient can decode the encrypted chat messages with no third-party intervention.
High data security plays a key role in selecting a chat app. Encryption is crucial for messenger apps since it protects sensitive and confidential information. That is why security is another feature that you should take into account while developing your instant messaging app.
Today, it’s hard to surprise anyone with what artificial intelligence can do. AI lets software think and behave like a live human being, and chatbots are one of the easiest ways to introduce AI to your chat app.
Chatbots communicate and interact with people via messages to facilitate the performance of various tasks. Some messenger apps offer their own platforms for building chatbots, like Telegram. The final chatbots can perform a lot of functions, from publishing posts to managing finances. It’s easy to start and stop working with them, depending on the users’ needs.
Chatbots inside chat apps make them more convenient and lively. It’s also possible to leverage chatbots with automatic or smart answers. When AI is integrated, the chat app will be able to offer users replies to messages, so they don’t have to type the responses manually.
The way your chat app looks matters, and although the functionality takes the leading part, the role of UI is really huge. If your app is aesthetically pleasing, you have way more chances to win the users’ loyalty.
A popular feature to customize the app is to enable dark and light modes. In addition to customization, dark mode saves the device’s battery. Google has shown that YouTube with enabled dark mode and 50% screen brightness reduces battery power usage by 14%. If the brightness is turned to 100%, dark mode saves up to 60%. In addition, dark mode is more comfortable for use in dark places, where a bright layout can disturb the user’s eyes.
It’s important to differentiate group chats from message broadcasting. The first feature enables users to create group chats with several contacts and distribute messages to one chat for everyone. With message broadcasting, users can send similar messages to various contacts without creating a unified chat with them. Users will get a simple non-group message without the ability to identify other recipients.
Message broadcasting is widely used by news agencies and companies to distribute promotional messages and newsletters.
Push notifications are a must-have feature in a lot of apps, and for chat apps, it plays an absolutely crucial role because that is the way users are aware of new messages. Besides new messages, a chat app can notify users about new contacts, someone’s online status, or if the recipient has read the message.
Creating a messenger only for one platform, web or mobile, can significantly decrease your ability to reach the target audience. Even though many people migrated from desktop browsers to mobile apps, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of other devices. We can consider creating a version for web browsers, desktops, and mobile platforms as a bare minimum, and with further updates, you can implement versions for smart devices and tablets.
We listed the most essential functions of a messaging solution that will make it user-friendly and functional. But if you want to stand out and get your market share, here are three functions that will make your business highly competitive and engaging for users.
This feature is relatively new, but the industry giants like Snapchat and WhatsApp have already implemented it, and users seem to really like it. Disappearing messages can be managed by users: they can set up the time when the messages will disappear and what kind of messages should stay in the chat.
Snapchat is a leader here again. They introduced stories and brought the element of social media to the chat app giving people a reason to open the app without receiving messages. Several other applications tried similar mechanics building it around Facebook and Twitter, but right now it’s not that widespread in chat apps.
Virtual reality and augmented reality are other top-notch technologies, together with artificial intelligence. This market is growing rapidly, and both VR and AR already apply to a lot of industries: healthcare, construction, education, and military. In chats, you can use these mechanics to make users feel closer to each other through their virtual worlds. Right now Microsoft is working on Microsoft Mesh, the platform that will allow people from different locations to join one virtual space.
Public channels are quite similar to groups in social networks like Facebook. They unite people who share the same interests and let them communicate with each other. Mostly, it looks like a group chat, but instead of messages it shares posts and allows its members to comment. Telegram seems to handle this function really well, with the ability of each user to create public and private channels and manage their settings.
Since Clubhouse has recently made some fuss around the digital world, a lot of chat apps and social networks started considering pure audio communication as a top-notch feature. In the social media world, Twitter decided to implement Spaces, and now it’s possible to have an audio conversation in the app. Talking about chat apps, Telegram is at the forefront of voice communication with their Voice Chats.
The most efficient way to define what functions your app should have is the analysis of competitors. There are chat apps that already set an industry benchmark and are used by more than 3 billion people, which is impressive. This chart made by Statista illustrates the amount of chat app users:
Here are some popular messengers that won the audiences attention:
WhatsApp is one of the most used apps in the world. You can send text and audio messages, images, videos, and documents, and share your location and contacts. Besides messaging, you can make audio and video calls to one person or to a group of up to eight people. Another feature that attracts users to this Facebook-owned app is its end-to-end encryption.
Besides regular chat app features, like dark mode and file sharing, the most popular app in China offers its users location sharing and Snapchat-like stories. Also, WeChat supports payments and has gamification elements that make the app more attractive. It’s also available for wearables, so the app becomes even more user-friendly.
Facebook has its own chat app separated from the social medium itself, so it becomes easy to communicate with your loved ones. Like WhatsApp, it can automatically add contacts from your phone, or you can populate contacts manually. An Android app has the "Chat Head" feature that allows the chat icon to stay on top of the screen. Facebook Messenger has all the basic chat app features: sending text and audio messages, sharing files and location, group chats with the maximum capacity of 50 people, and end-to-end encrypted chats.
With Telegram, you can share media and texts and create group chats with up to 200 people. But the greatest focus of this chat app is security - fast messaging with client-server encryption for a standard chat, and end-to-end for a Secure Chat. The Secure Chats ensure that messages will only be seen by dedicated recipients. Additionally, you can also set up self-destructive messages.
As a team that uses Slack as a main communication tool, we can say that this app is not just a messenger. Slack is a business-oriented software solution that includes messaging, scheduling and management tools, and supports integration with other apps. It can cover most of your workflow needs since Slack is synchronized across multiple devices and allows you to create channels - subgroups of contacts dedicated to special tasks and discussions. Slack saves your chat history, enabling search through old messages, channels, and files.
Here at Yellow, we are proud to say that our team has extensive experience working on chats and chatbots. We focus on making a chat not just a piece of software, but a valuable business. Let us introduce you to some examples of our work.
CashChat is a mobile app where users can find people around the area and meet them to improve their skills or help them learn something new. This app finds the user’s location and, according to preferred settings, filters all the people in the same location and determines those who fit the user the most. With the help of settings, you can choose what you want to talk about, like music, movies, or business. CashChat enables users to select the location radius, from a small area in a town to the entire country, and beyond.
Famlicious is a mobile chat application for iOS and Android that enables people to get closer to their families. The most remarkable function is the unique way of building dynamic family trees with the help of graph databases.
Fireaway is a simple chat with minimal requirements for its functioning. It's anonymous, registration-free, and very lightweight. Fireaway is great for instant business and private communication.
Instant online communication is becoming more and more popular. The more people need the ability to chat, the more software solutions appear to cover that demand. If you want your app to be highly compatible and win the audience’s attention, take into account the features we mentioned above, and don’t forget to analyze the feedback.
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