Apps like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram are the current reigning social media front runners. These revolutionary communication platforms connect us with our peers, provide a medium for online businesses, and give us an insider’s look into the lives of the rich & famous.

But what exactly does it take to become a social media sensation? An incredibly well-designed system (among other things).

Since its inception in 2010,Instagram has become the most popular video & sharing app with an estimated value of $102 billion. Global social media users are expected to reach 4.41 billion in 2025 from 3.6 billion in 2020. So, if the idea of inventing an app like Instagram piques your interest, read on to learn what functions and features make Instagram the app of all apps and the cost to develop an app like Instagram.

What’s In An App?

Mobile App Photo and design of mobile app

There’s no rulebook to determine how much an app should cost. To estimate the cost of developing a mobile application like IG, several factors need to be considered:

1. Developer Costs (Fees will vary depending on the development company).

2. The Idea (What/who is your app for)?

3. Platform – Android, iOS or both

4. UI & App Screen Design

5. Hybrid or Native

6. Features &Functionalities

7. Localization

8. Back-End or MBaaS

Developing The Features/Functionalities Of Instagram – Time is Money

Clock with note that is written Time equals Money

The time it takes to develop the various basic features of an application plays a huge role in the total cost.

Instagram was initially introduced to users as a video and photo-sharing app with fun filters to alter the photo’s look. Users could access each other’s profiles, follow them, and view their uploaded content. In addition, IG users could add captions, tag other users, or tag a photo with a geographical location. It’s safe to say the Instagram we knew in 2010 can’t compare with the Instagram we know in 2021.Today’s features include private messaging, Instagram Live Video, IGTV, Shoppable Tags in Stories, Push Notifications, and more.

So, if you’re looking to create a similar platform to Instagram (2021), be aware added features equate to additional time and money.

What Features Are Important To Have In An App?

While you might not need all the bells and whistles IG has to offer; you should consider adding the following features to your app for the best possible user experience.

Account Authorization:

This one’s a big deal. Account authorization is critical to protect user data and privacy. Once a user’s identity is confirmed, only then should they be granted access to your application. Additionally, users should have the option to create an account on the social media app and sign in using their email addresses or phone numbers. Consider features like password reset, password recovery, activity logging, locking accounts after too many unsuccessful login attempts, and 2-factorauthentication for unrecognized devices.

Estimated development time spent – 70 hours

Profile Setup:

You want to give your users the ability to create and customize a profile with their name, picture, education, or any other relevant information they may like to share. To set up a profile feature, the developer will have to create an interaction between the client and the server-side.

Estimated development time spent – 50 hours.

Photo & Video:

Users expect to upload, edit, and manage their digital content on social media platforms. Therefore, adding an upload and photo editing feature should be high up on your priority list.

Estimated development time spent – 100 hours.


Any app that’s comparable with Instagram needs to boast a real-time messaging option. But just having the opportunity to message isn’t enough. A good app should notify users about the incoming message while protecting the app server from crashing due to heavy activity.

To implement user notifications, your app should be linked with Android or iOS through device authorization on the server using APN or GCM.

Estimated development time spent – 120 hours.

Social Media Connectivity:

Linking your new social media app with other social media platforms will give you access to a much wider audience. Today, users are constantly switching between communication platforms to consume content. You want to give your users the ability to connect with other users on other social media platforms. To do it, the user’s app account ID and social media account ID must be linked.

Estimated development time spent – 8 – 10 hours.

Search Feature:

Search allows users to quickly find whatever they’re looking for – whether it’s their friends, family members, the latest news stories, celebrity updates, etc. In addition, the search feature should act as a convenient tool to make the app more user-friendly.

Estimated development time spent – 60 hours.

Geo (Location) Integration:

Geotags allow users to share their current location along with their uploaded content. To enable location integration on an app, APIs are required. Also, your app must obtain user permission to send location data.

Keep in mind the process to add a geo feature is slightly different for Android and iOS.

Estimated development time spent – 25 hours.

The App Design – UI And UX:

Even an app with the best concept needs a stellar design to generate success. The design (what the end-user sees) is arguably the most critical part of your application. This is the point where your idea is manifested and shared with thousands of users.

App designs should be sleek, simple, and intelligent. Your UI/UX designer will be tasked with essentially setting the bar for your application’s future-so choose wisely.

Estimated development time spent – 70 hours.

Other Features To Consider

Instagram has changed a lot since 2010. IG is usually one of the first social media platforms to spear head new tech advances that make the user experience more personalized and enjoyable.

To truly build an app that can rival a power player like Instagram, think about adding the following features.

In-App Shopping:

Instagram in-app shopping is the platform’s collection of s-commerce (social commerce) offerings created to help users buy a product or service without leaving Instagram. More users opt to sell products and services through apps like Instagram to cut costs and reach a broader audience. As a result, merchants will often send notifications to followers and have customers tag products in their posts.

So, if people in commerce are part of your target audience, this is a feature that’s definitely worth considering.

Live Shopping:

In 2021, we don’t just have in-app shopping; we have Live Shopping, where brands, businesses, and creator scan add new products to their store while live streaming. For example, on Instagram, users can simply tap to view the product details and buy it immediately. A Live Shopping feature worth considering if you plan to target E-commerce vendors and customers. If not, save your budget for other features that will resonate better with your target audience.

Advanced Payment Options:

Instagram is advanced when it comes to instant payment options. Similar to Amazon Pay or PayPal, Instagram also provides a secure and seamless payment method. If you’re considering adding a shopping feature to your new platform, think about ways to help your users feel safe about buying products.

Security concerts today are at an all-time high. More consumers are unwilling to type their credit card information online. Third-party payment services are a good alternative for online or in-app shopping. PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, Venmo, and Payoneer, are the top services at the moment.

Developing Additional Settings & Features

Additional features to consider include:

●      Enabling or disabling push notifications.

●      Language preferences.

●      Setting account privacy.

●      Limiting who can see your content.

●      Restricting users from interacting with other users.

Of course, developing extra features will tack on hours (and money), but sometimes they can make a massive difference in how the public perceives your application.

The Development Team

Development Team Photo

Of course, you can go with a cheaper development team to save a few bucks, but you essentially get what you pay for when it comes to software development. A well-rounded development team should include the following people.

Project Manager: Someone capable of understanding your requirements and executing the requirements to the development team.

UX/UI Design: They’re responsible for creating a stunning, simple, seamless design to ensure an excellent user experience.

iOS Developer: An expert in developing iOS apps using platform-specific programming languages.

Android Developer: An expert in developing Android apps using platform-oriented programming languages.

Back-End Developer/ Front-End Developer: They specialize in databases, scripting, and website architecture.

QA Engineer: This person will thoroughly analyze your app and test it over multiple platforms.

More often than not, hiring a professional development team with experience will cost more than hiring a freelancer. Still, the added cost is entirely worth it to get exactly what you want out of your application.

The cost to build an app like Instagram will change from developer to developer. However, now that we know roughly how much time it takes to build an app like Instagram, we can estimate the cost.

How Much Does It Cost To Make An App Like Instagram?

Developing an app like IG can take anywhere from 500 – 700 hours. The hourly price of developers drastically differs based on location, experience, company, and skill sets. The hourly rate for a US-based software developer can be anywhere from $100 – $200. If we’re going off of these numbers alone, the cost to develop an app like IG based on hourly rates can be in the range of $120,000 to $184,000.

It’s important to remember that you may not include all of the features mentioned above in your specific application. The fewer features and add-ons, the cheaper the application will be.

To keep things simple, use the following equation.

(Approximate Development Hours) x (Hourly Cost Of Development) = Total App Development Cost

Final Thoughts

The key here is finding a software developer you can trust. Shopping around, interviewing different companies, and asking for previous work samples is a great way to ensure you’re investing your time and money with a development team you can count on.

If you are interested in learning the best practices when buying software development, check out our home page for our PDF Guide.

Leave A Comment

× How can I help you?