How Much Does Signal Like App Development Costs?

Updated 14 Mar 2024
Published 22 Feb 2021
Satyam Chaturvedi 2989 Views

Social Media has swept the world like a storm, every person is available on social media via one or another application. People are using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share their views, at the same time they are using WhatsApp and Telegram for their routing messaging requirements.

Messaging applications have proved their worth, as end-user can utilize them to fulfill multiple requirements. Users can chat with their friends, and send their pictures, videos, and files to their friends, family members, and groups. However, at the same time, we have seen widespread security threats and privacy concerns as well.

Information security has become a crucial aspect to consider while considering any application for usage. That is the reason why people are more inclined towards a secured and encrypted private messaging app like Signal. 

signal app download statisticss
Image Credit: statista.com

Signal has been gaining immense popularity due to the pathbreaking security and secrecy it offers. It is built on the Text Secure and Red Phone application models, and it is known as the most encrypted and secured messaging application available in the market.

Signal runs on end-to-end highly encrypted messaging protocols AES-256, HMAC-SHA256, and Curve25519. These protocols ensure end-to-end security to the communication and prevent any sort of Man-in-the-middle (MITM) hacking attempts.

The other important feature is that Signal is an open-source application and its source code is easily available on GitHub, where anyone can access it anytime.

In this article, we would like to provide insight into prominent features of the Signal application, approximate efforts, and the cost required to build an app like Signal.

Here, we would like to state that it is necessary to understand the basic architecture of the application first. We will share detailed information about the Signal application and then we can proceed with the Signal app development costs.

What is Signal and its basic features?

A signal is a cross-platform application that has been developed by Signal Technology Foundation and Signal Messenger. It is an application that offers a simple messaging service (one-to-one and group messages) that accompanies file sharing, images, videos, and voice notes.

It also offers one-to-one and group voice and video calls to end users. It has emerged as a secure alternative to WhatsApp, since the recent privacy policy change announcement by WhatsApp and Facebook. 

signal app development

However, here the biggest question is, what this Security is? And why people are so much concerned about it? As we want to develop a Signal application, it is important to understand the security fundamentals and parameters. As per the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), security is based on 7 grounding parameters: 

  • Communication should be encrypted in data transit.
  • Service providers should not have access to Key communication encryption.
  • Verify user’s identity through individual verification.
  • There should be a secure pass communication mechanism in case the key gets stolen.
  • The application source code should be open for independent review.
  • The Crypto design of the application should be well-documented.
  • The application should be open for an independent security audit. 

Here, we can say that Signal fulfils all the requirements of EFF and that is the reason why it is considered as one of the most secure messaging applications in the market.

While developing an application, we must keep all these parameters in mind. Any proposed messaging application should pick the security parameters followed by the Signal application. 

Features offered by Signal app- Must-have for any Messaging App

Signal offers high-end security features and ensures that privacy remains intact. Signal offers a few must-have features for any proposed application.  We are going to discuss those features in detail, and it will help us while building our own messaging application.

Strong Private Encryption to Chats

Signal offers a strong encryption mechanism to keep chats and other communication secured. This is among the most famous features of Signal, and this is indeed responsible for its massive following.

End users can have private encrypted chats with their friends, family, or loved ones. Here it is also important to note that the application server has no access to any metadata which may include titles, icons, membership lists, and titles. 

signal app development

User registration through contact details

Gone are the days when user registration and login used to be a long process. Signal has made this entire process extremely convenient for the end-users.

It offers an easy interface, where a user can log in with their contact details. They do not need to remember their login IDs or passwords. Signal only needs your contact number, once it is provided, you may get an OTP code, and once that is keyed in, the application is ready for use.

Disappearing Message

This feature was initially launched by Telegram and became immensely popular. It helps you to keep your messages safe from public view, by putting a timer of 5 seconds to 1 week, for the messages seen by you, past that the message disappears.

The application also restricts taking screenshots within the application, which gives it another layer of security and privacy.

Seamless Audio & Video Calls

Signal offers high-quality audio and video calls for one-to-one and groups, on a superior security apparatus. Due to its unmatched security and privacy offering, individuals and business enterprises use Signal as an authentic method to share confidential data over audio and video calls. This is an important aspect to ponder while developing a Signal messaging app

Encryption and Security

Implementing water-tight encryption and security is crucial for the popularity of any application. However, it is not easy to deploy encryption and security in any application, but it can be fulfilled by utilizing the Telegram API.

By using an established API, we can reduce the backend and database development efforts along with the time and cost of application development.

Proxy Support

If the Signal application is blocked in any country, it can still be accessed by using the proxy. It offers proxy settings and the end-user can make the necessary changes to access the application, as the data traffic remains opaque to the proxy operator. Our application should incorporate proxy support to ensure seamless usage everywhere.

Proxy Support Features of Signal App

Broadcast Media

This is quite a common feature now, which helps us send media to multiple contacts at the same time in separate chats. Signal lets us send the same media to the selected contacts without creating a group, and this is a must-have feature for any messaging application these days.

Incognito Keyboard

Signal offers the usage of an Input Method Editor or an existing keyboard on a smartphone. It provides a facility to turn on Incognito Keyboard on the Android platform. It enables an optional keyboard privacy flag, supported by Android OS, which helps end-user to use a keyboard to maintain their privacy.

Delete for Everyone

Signal provides a facility to delete a message sent accidentally. We can use the ‘Delete for everyone feature while deleting a chat message. It is a must-have feature for any messaging application.

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Efforts and Time to create a Signal Application

These are certain grounds on which secure application development takes place. Here we will explain a few important modules for the proposed messaging application, along with the time and resources it may take.

Registration Module

This is the basic module, where the consumer registers himself/herself and then provides further information like name, surname, sex, country, and phone number. Once the information is furnished, the application sends an authorization message to the end user.

The application can read and then submit the verification code automatically to register the end user. Past consumer registration, the application syncs all the contacts to display the people who are already available on that messaging platform.

Development Time: 

This module is quite the basic one, and it may take up to 50-55 hours.

Real-time messaging Module

Signal provides One on one and group chats as well. Since we are willing to develop our own Signal application, it is obvious to incorporate all the messaging features, so that end users can avail one of one chat and multi-user chat.

For messaging applications, we generally use eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMMP), which ensures the message sending and delivery mechanism works flawlessly. We also must enable the other chat features like stickers, emojis, and GIF files.

Development Time:

This is an important module, which takes up to 210-220 hours, for both frontend and backend development.

Voice Calling

Signal offers a free calling feature which Internet traffic to make calls, rather than using a cellular service plan on your SIM connection. Several messaging applications use PJSIP library to implement VoIP (Voice over IP) protocol for end-to-end calling facility.

Signal Like App Development

It is an open-source multimedia communication library, which is written in C language. PJSIP uses a high-level Application Programming Interface by combining the Multimedia framework with SIP (signalling protocol) and NAT traversal functionality.

Read Also:- How to Develop Voice Chat App like Discord? Cost & Features

Development Time:

It could take up to 200-220 hours for building both frontend and backend components.

Video Calling module

Video calling feature is the bare minimum requirement for any messaging application these days. With the availability of high-speed internet, people are now preferring to make video calls with individuals or groups. We have seen that many applications which did not have video calling features are now looking at the possibility of incorporating this feature to remain relevant among their users.

Development time:

To develop a video calling feature, it may take 180-220 hours to build a frontend and backend interface. This time could be vary depending on the operating system like Android or iOS.

Multimedia sharing module

For any messaging application, we must integrate the capability of multimedia sharing. The application should enable its users to share document files, pictures, voice notes, and video files. The media transmission is executed by uploading a multimedia file, that to be delivered to an HTTP server. Which then uses its Base64 encoded thumbnail while sending the link to the content together.

Development Time:

To incorporate the multimedia sharing module, it may take up to 40-50 Hours. Though it depends on Android and iOS and several other factors like usage of an API or building it from scratch.

Settings Module

This is an important module for any application, as it provides the end-user to make some customized changes in the application by modifying the setting. The settings module consists of a user account and profile setting, Privacy Settings, Help, etc.

From this module, users can make changes in their user profile, update the settings like switch on or off the read receipts, manage blocked contacts, delete accounts, change status, change contact numbers, customize the notification settings, and change the appearance of the application, etc.

Development time:

This is an important module and may take up to 110-120 hours for development.

Contact Sharing feature

This feature enables users to send and receive contacts from their phone memories directly with their friends. This is a very basic feature that uses XMPP protocol for message delivery. We can use several available APIs to enable this feature and may develop it from scratch as well.

Contact Sharing Features of Signal App

Development time: 

This feature may take 70-80 hours of effort to develop.

Location sharing capability

sharing the geolocation with our contacts is a must-have feature that should be integrated into the application. Through this feature, we can share our current location or the location of any specific place with our friends.

We can also share our live location with any person for a specific amount of time. We can easily use Google Maps Android API to enable this feature for android, for the iOS environment, we can utilize the Map Kit framework.

Development Time:

It could take 25-30 hours to develop and integrate this feature into your application.

Notifications

On any messaging application, the user is notified about a personal chat message or a group message through mobile app notifications. We can enable the feature, where the user may receive a pop-up notification when the phone is locked. This feature can be developed from scratch, but we would suggest using Apple Push Notifications or Google Cloud Messaging to enable this feature for our application.

Development time:

It may take hardly 15-20 hours to integrate this feature into our app.

Contact Sync module –

This module is used to sync the contacts in the phone to the cloud of our applications database.

Development time:

It may take hardly 15-20 hours to integrate this feature into our app.

Call History –

This module displays the Call history (Incoming, outgoing, rejected call) for a user. It provides the end-user with an account of different kinds of calls they have made and received.

Development time:

It may take hardly 18-25 hours to integrate this feature into our app.

Connect Web/Desktop/QR Scanner –

This is a new feature, which is used to scan QR codes to visit any specific website or make a payment as well.

Development time:

It may take hardly 15-20 hours to integrate this feature into our app.

QR Scanner Feature of Messaging App Signal

Chat Backup –

It is an important module that helps us take the backup of our chats and other data, so that could be accessed at any time later.

Development time:

It may take hardly 25-35 hours to integrate this feature into our app.

Data Storage –

This module helps us to keep a track of the Data storage usage of our application. We can make the change in the storage setting to ensure the application does not take unnecessary space on the end user’s mobile phone.

Development time:

It may take hardly 5-10 hours to integrate this feature into our app.

About Application

This is again an important section, where end-user can browse important information and FAQs about the application. It helps end-users with several queries about the application and offers support material as well.

Development time:

It may take hardly 20-30 hours to integrate this feature into our app.

End-to-end encryption –

This module helps a user to make changes in encryption settings.

Development time:

It may take hardly 5-10 hours to integrate this feature into our app.

What Technology Stack we may use?

We must choose a correct and efficient technology stack for application development. Though it depends on project requirements, application complexity, and several other parameters. However, here we have provided a simple breakdown of the technology stack required to develop a messaging application like Signal

Android 

For the Android platform, we can use the following technologies and tools to develop the application.

  • Programming Language – Kotlin
  • Networking – Retrofit2, OkHttp 3
  • Database – SQLite, Room
  • JSON parsing – Jackson, Gson

iOS

For the IOS platform, we can use the following technologies and tools to develop the application.

  • Programming Language – Swift
  • Networking – Alamofire
  • JSON parsing – Glide

Backend Development

Backend development is an important aspect of any mobile application, and it plays an important role in the stability and popularity of any app.

  • Programming Language – JavaScript or Node.JS
  • Framework – Express 4
  • Database – MySQL
  • API Documentation – Swagger
  • Infrastructure – AWS

Third-Party Services

We must use several 3rd party services while developing a robust messaging application. Here are a few 3rd party services, that can be used for messaging application development.

  • Storage – Amazon S3
  • Real-time Engine – Socket
  • SMS – Twilio
  • Email – Elastic Email
  • Push notification for Android – FCM
  • Push notification for iOS – APNS

Read Also: 60 Mobile App Ideas To Generate Revenue For Business In 2022

Messaging App Development Breakdown: Total Time and Cost

Now, it is time to calculate Signal app development costs and effort, and time on our own. We have provided an estimate of messaging application development efforts and time with respect to the functionalities and features mentioned above.

Though, the actual estimate could be slightly different from the given figures; however, we have tried to provide as precise information as we can.

Messaging App Development

The final cost of developing a Signal messaging application can cost you between USD 35,000- USD 55,000 for Android and iOS, respectively. This is an average cost, that is based at the rate of USD 50/hour)

Platform App Development time App Development Cost
iOS 800-900+ hours USD 40,000- USD 45,000
Android 900-1100+ hours USD 45,000-USD 55,000
Back-end 600-800+ hours USD 25,000-USD 35,000
UI/UX design (one platform) 80-100+ hours USD 5,000-USD 7,000

Signal Private Messaging App Development Cost – Region wise

If we consider the above figures, then the total cost of application development would vary from USD 30,000 to USD 70,000. However, we would like to make it clear that the given values are just an estimated one and the actual cost could vary depending on messaging application features and other requirements.

Region Total Cost Hourly Rate
India 25,000 USD 50-70 USD
Eastern Europe 40,000 USD 80-100 USD
North America 70,000 USD 100-120 USD
Western Europe 65,000 USD 90-120 USD
Australia 70,000 USD 100 USD

mobile app development

Messaging Application Development – Final Checklist 

Let us move to the quick checklist for messaging application development, which we must follow while developing a Signal application.

  • Research the market and identify the business case
  • Assess the market and determine the potential competitors.
  • Identify the important functions to be incorporated into the app.
  • Select the platforms (Android/iOS/Windows) to create a messaging app for.
  • Define and choose an appropriate monetization strategy for earning.
  • Document all your thoughts and observations.
  • Determine the features we want in the MVP version of the application.
  • Hire a reputed mobile application development organization or a freelancer but highly reliable application developer.
  • Share your vision, objectives, and goals with Developers.
  • Make an adequate and wise investment in application marketing strategy to get the necessary attraction before the app’s release.
  • Release the application
  • Continue with Application maintenance, support, and updates.

Conclusion

Now, it seems we have covered all the relevant aspects of the development of an application that is based on Signal. We tried to provide a complete understanding of the existing Signal application, its features, and the reasons behind its immense popularity.

Though here we also would like to state that the cost and estimates we have given in this article are about a basic application, the cost could be increased gradually once the application is scaled for mass usage.

With this, we would like to conclude this article. We hope we were able to provide the best possible information on this topic. We believe that the market always welcomes a new idea and there is a level playing field for everyone.

If you have got an idea to revolutionize messaging services, then this is the right time to build an appropriate application with Arka Softwares an award winning mobile app development company. Our team of experienced developers provides you the best solutions according to the latest design and development trends.

Satyam Chaturvedi

Satyam Chaturvedi is a Digital Marketing Manager at Arka Softwares, a leading app development company dealing in modern and futuristic solutions. He loves to spend his time studying the latest market insights.

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