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How to build an app like Instagram

When he was asked how long it took to complete the creation process of this truly revolutionary app, Mike Krieger, the co-founder of Instagram, described Instagram as an app which took only 8 weeks to build but is a product of work which spans a year. Breathtaking, right? The first launch was indeed ready in just 2 months, however, stability wasn’t achieved until after 10 months.

How to build an app like Instagram

Tuesday July 24, 2018,

5 min Read

Mobile app development, whether Android development or iOS development, is characterized by several factors. Some of these factors include the number of funds available, the size of the team, the expert relied upon, the complexity of the project, and so on. While it’s impossible to ascertain exactly what is needed for every form of mobile app development, we can attempt to provide a foolproof analysis for some of the more popular products. Instagram will be the case study for today.

Before we go on to study how to build an app like Instagram, let’s see what Instagram really is.

More about Instagram

The highlight of this app was when it sold to Facebook for $1 billion in 2012. 6 years later, Instagram is now ingrained in the fabric of our daily life. The concept of mobile app development for photo and video sharing purposes skyrocketed during this period and we enjoyed other new entrants such as Snapchat, Flickr, and Swipe.


What are the features which make Android development or iOS development for Instagram unique?

1. Each User has a personalized account

2. Users are required to Register to access the content

3. There’s a login page for security

4. Users can edit their profile to their taste

5. Instagram allows social integration

6. There’s the inherent ability to take photos and videos

7. The photos and videos can be shared on other platforms

8. It has an inbuilt photo and video editor

9. There’s a messaging function

10. It has Geolocation features

11. Push notifications are available

Reading through the list might be overwhelming at first but when we dig a bit deeper, we’ll see it’s really not. It should just serve as a guide so that when you embark on a mobile app development project, either for Android development or iOS development, you can know what to look for.

What does technology Instagram use?

The infrastructure underpinning Instagram is as extensive as it gets. Remember that they currently serve over 400 million active users. One peculiar feature of Instagram is that there’s always heavy traffic and the users demand speedy access. As such, the Android development and iOS development team for Instagram rely on React Native.


In addition, Gunicorn serves as an interface, working between the application and the web servers. Amazon EC2, Route53, EBS, and S3 work to balance the load and provide the needed computing capacity.

Ubuntu Linux 11.04 serves as the default operating system in use at Amazon. For their data storage (which is a very important aspect of mobile app development), they rely on PostgreSQL.

How much time will it take to create an app like Instagram

To give an accurate value, it’s best to break the process down and analyze the different demands of a project of this magnitude. When we consider the UI and UX, we can see that a lot of effort, time, and resources went into that aspect. Ideally, 50 to 65 hours of work will be required. Adding additional design features will require another 20 hours or more.

Another aspect which takes time is the authorization - creating the login portal, allowing Open Access authorization, syncing with third-parties, etc. This should consume another 70 hours or more. When we add geolocation features, search options, security, the instant messaging features, and other add-ons, the time can add up to 1000 hours.

What are the key performance indicators to track when you create your app

After an Android development project, there are metrics which indicate the progress you’ve made. This also applies to iOS development. Although a myriad of KPIs exists, there are 3 main ones to look out for.

The number of active users

When you pitch your ideas to investors, one thing they look out for is the number of people patronizing your product. In fact, some investors will rather see an increase in revenue while running at a loss than reduced revenue.


The engagement of the users

How long does an average user spend on your app? How many times do they login? How many files do they upload and how many do they delete? This is when you begin to sift the wheat from the chaff.

User retention

Push notifications serve the purpose of reminding customers about what they’re missing out on when they aren’t on the platform. Instagram is adept at this and if you want to achieve success building an app like Instagram, this is a skill you’ll need to master to retain your users.

Read the Blog: Why Should Small Business Invest in a Mobile App?

How can you monetize your mobile app

Now that you know the amount of work that goes into Android development and iOS development, you’ll definitely seek ways by which you can be compensated. Thankfully, mobile app development offers numerous avenues for monetization. 3 common ways by which this is done are highlighted here.

Get sponsors

Think of this as an opportunity to provide a brand with the needed visibility while you also get adequate funds to further the mobile app development. Although it can prove to be a lot of work, it is the most rewarding.


This is another really interesting way to generate revenue. As your mobile app development project begins to gather steam, you can then reach out to companies, promising them exposure on your platform. You should, however, note that obtrusive ads put off users.

In-app purchases

With the help of the internet, anything is possible! You can sell advanced effects, beautiful filters, voice-overs, badges, or even premium access to certain content. The key is, “if you can dream it, you can achieve it.”


Mobile app development, specifically Android development and iOS development has undergone immense growth and support over the years. With the plethora of companies available to help you with your project, making money while you build apps like Instagram is more of a reality than a farce.

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