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The charm of Instagram is undeniably irresistible to both common and business users. The vast majority of users make up a perfect market for business to sell their products and services, therefore, allow Instagram to earn money from providing advertisement space.

If your heart pounds when thinking about the way Instagram working wonders and wish to make an app for yourself, then it’s important to deep-dive in the cost structure of building an Instagram-like app in this part 2 of the series.

how to make an app like instagram part 2 the cost structure
It’s crucial to deep-dive in the cost structure of developing an Instagram-like app from scratch.

Making your Instagram alternative from scratch

Once mentioned in part 1, although Instagram has certain distinctive selling points, it’s still built based on some basic functionalities that every photo-sharing app must have.

The cost of developing such functionalities will vary depending on the choice of different platforms: iOS or Android, native or hybrid.

How Much Does It Cost Instagram
The cost structure of building an Instagram-like app in a nutshell | Source: Cleveroad.


Wonder to know how much does it cost to make an App? Our 2019 industry research about app pricing will help you! Don’t miss it!

Setting up authorisation

People will never know what’s so awesome about your app if you don’t build an open door. Therefore, fast, easy, convenient authorisation shall be the first thing you think of as it’s the starting point of the customer journey.

As of Instagram, to have the account authorised and access to the main functions, it offers users with a couple of choices.

They can either create a brand new account on Instagram itself by clicking “Sign up” at the bottom of the screen and register right away or simply sync their current existed social network accounts (Facebook account in specific) to get logged in.

Instagram offers users a couple of choices to have an account authorized
Instagram offers users with a couple of choices to have an account authorised | Source: BusinessDigit.

Besides, imagine how terrible it would be if people have to create a brand new account every time they forget their password or get it hacked/stolen.

That’s why there is always an option called “Forgot password” where users can set up a new password in case of emergency through email, phone number or social media account. Life is much easier now!

In addition, remember to save the users’ data on the backend. For this action, you will need a strong database same as the OAuth open authorisation protocol for logging-in security. Don’t let DDoS attack threaten your app lifeline because of one silly mistake in authorisation developing.

All things considered, the estimated time for both backend and development is about 67 hours.

Creating and editing profile

To personalise and validate one’s account, a must is to build a profile. This feature will allow users to add and modify their basic information (name, phone number, email, gender, etc) and bio so that you could easily follow your users’ footprints and make their experiences more distinctive and fulfilled.

Talking about the backend, in this part you have to establish an interaction between the client and the server-side of the application.

This function will take about 48 hours away from you, with 40 hours for mobile development and 8 hours for the backend.

Adjusting settings

This is the area where you offer various extra settings to users for personal suitability. It shall include some simple categories, such as notifications where you manage all notices from other accounts, privacy and security for account protection, payments methodology, and other account settings (language, photo quality, etc).

If you want to allow the push notifications, it becomes important for the server to get connected with the Apple or Google server. You need to register on the Google or Apple server and provide an appropriate ID. The server will send the notifications through the ID afterwards.

The estimated time falls between 96 – 128 hours, including push notifications depending on their numbers and complexity.

Uploading photo and video

The vedette of the show! This feature is the foundation of the whole photo-sharing thing, so you shall make sure it’s close to flawlessness.

Here users can take photos, record a video, make a preview, upload existed photos in mobile phone with multiple of image size. In addition, some interaction functionalities should also be included such as tagging, commenting and liking.

In case you want to personalise your own app with different unique points to Instagram, you can breathe a new wind this feature, such as switching to live streaming feature as discussed in the previous part.

For instance, regarding Helo, a live streaming app created by Savvycom, the main function is no longer uploading photo and video as Instagram, but recording your appearance and activities in real-time so that your friends could interact with you just straight away.

They might be similar in some basic functionalities, but different from the core idea. By guaranteeing your unique, innovative points, you could differentiate your product from Instagram, taking it to a whole new level and earn even more money than Instagram does.

How to make an app like Instagram (Part 2): The cost structure
According to Mindinventory, as far as the backend is concerned, you have to opt for different approaches to Android and iOS platforms.

In the case of Google, the initial activity is reading the Camera API, MediaRecorder classes, android.hardware.camera2 API, and SurfaceView.

On the other hand, if you are developing an app for Apple devices then you have to use UImagePickerController, which is a part of the UIKit Framework.

This effort will cost you about 76 – 320 hours.

Customising photos

The trick here is to exert a little more effort in the functions having “photo” in their name because now you’re meant to develop a photo-sharing app like Instagram.

Photo customisation will centralise your idea of a photo-based app as well as improve user experiences by letting them play with photos and allowing them to showcase their aesthetic, creative side. Some actions users can apply here are filter adding, photo cropping/rotating, perspective setting, etc.

About the backend, there are two available options: one is that you can make use of any standard file, and the other is to create your own files.

With the first option, you just have to copy the ready source code to your project – effortlessly, whereas the latter option requires you to write the entire source code on your own. Which one to choose is totally up to your app’s characteristics and your own preference!

To materialise these seemingly complicated features, 68 hours of work should be taken into account.

Integrating geolocation

Not limited to photo-sharing platforms like Instagram, geolocation is in fact out of sheer similar to any social network. This application allows users to pin and share the place where a photo or video was taken.

The post then is saved into the location’s gallery as well as the world map, which serves the intention of place and photo tracking. This is very convenient in case users wish to research a travel destination before actually going on a trip.

How to make an app like Instagram (Part 2): The cost structure
Source: the Internet

In order to embed this feature into your app, you would need the support of APIs. Once again, different approaches are posed between Android and iOS platforms, depending on the Maps and Locations.

If you are planning to build the app on an Android platform, you need to use the class of Android.location package and maps service by employing the MapView class. However, if you’re going for the iOS one, you will need a hand from CLLocationManager Class and maps service using the Map Kit framework.

After the front-end receives the data from a sensor, they send it to the backend. However, you need to acquire the permission of the users before sending the data. The data gets saved in the server-side and the image is returned to the user indicating the location.

Hereby, the estimated time is 28 hours, with 16 hours for mobile app development and 8 hours for the backend.


Apart from the simple search methodology, one of the unique points of Instagram #hashtags, which allows users to look in the posts using some specific words attached to the hashtag.

For example, before posting a photo on Instagram feed, users could include some hashtags such as #instagram #selfie #ootd to mark their photos and use those hashtags as keywords to trace them back.

On the other hand, users can also search for their liked posts, tagged posts or trending posts, depending on which type of photo they’re looking for. Users will choose their preferred option and the backend server offers the desired results.

The estimated time for this is 64 hours, including 24 hours for mobile app development, 40 hours for the backend.

Message exchange

“Expression and communication are essential, without them, civilisation ends”

– Haruki Murakami

Men’s desire to talk and to be heard is as old as time. More or less, we all want to converse and communicate – it’s part of the river of life.

The need for communication rises so high that we create a virtual tool to improve communication level. Therefore, the messaging function should also be included in almost any app to enhance user satisfaction and engagement.

It allows users to communicate in a real-time mode, meaning that the messages are immediately sent to the recipient without any delay. As a result, this poses an additional problem for developers, which is the notification button to keep users informed about the incoming message.

It is also very essential to protect the server from excess loading of the incoming and outgoing messages. In order to achieve your ends, you can make use of RESTful API on HTTP as a replacement of permanent socket connections.

Similarly, if you want to have the notifications implemented, you had better get your app linked with the Android or iOS server through device authorisation on the server. You can use APN or GCM for doing it as well.

This is the most time-consuming functionality, with 132 hours of work in the estimation, including 90 hours for mobile development and 42 hours for the backend.

Linking with different social media

Having some friends by your side is often advantageous. Today, users not only use one single social network but various ones, so have them linked altogether is a wise move.

With this function, users can share their photos, videos, information and much more through different platforms, therefore, increase your app’s accessibility and convenience. Users can choose which social accounts should be connected with the apps as well.

Instagram linked with other social media; how to make an app like Instagram
Source: Social Pilot.

For the backend, you have to link up the app account ID with the social media account ID. After that, the authorisation tools such as OAuth will come into play.

The estimated time is 8 hours.

Total Sum

All basic features considered, the total amount of estimated hours an Instagram-like app takes out of you is about 643 hours.

If you multiply it by hour wage per employee, the number will escalate to approximately $ 32000.

After using 10% of the extra cost, which is about $35,000, the final number is $67,000.


We are living in an era where social networks are the king. Having a social media platform such as Instagram would offer an all-around advantage to instigating your business prospects.

However, before making up your mind, it’s still crucial to take into consideration the cost and the effort of making it so that you can visualise the essential steps and prepare the budget beforehand.

If you’re looking for a skilled, proficient team to fuel your Instagram alternative idea, Savvycom is more than a great fit. For any further discussion and consultation, don’t hesitate to contact us – we will be happy to assist you.

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