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TikTok App Development: Features, Technologies, and Expenses Revealed

ByVitaly Kuprenko

TikTok App Development: Features, Technologies, and Expenses Revealed

TikTok is a newcomer to the world of entertainment application. It has managed to gather more than 800 million monthly active users for its short period of existence.. These users spend hours while creating and watching content. 

Entrepreneurs, fascinated with a rapid rise of TikTok’s popularity, wonder how to make a TikTok-like app and how much it costs.

In this post, we’ve covered basic and advanced features, tech-stack, and ready-made estimation.

TikTok’s Concept   

TikTok is a video sharing app that allows users to both create and consume the content. It lets users record videos no longer than 60 seconds applying various sounds and music. Besides, users can apply masks, filters, editing effects, and so on.

Users decide what content to create on their own. While some of them make short educational videos that try to cover some topics within a minute, others show their creativity and create short videos that can be converted to a live wallpaper. 

TikTok Algorithms

Recently, TikTok disclosed some information about its suggestion system. So, let’s try to figure things out. 

If you’re familiar with TikTok, you should know that the For You page is the heart of TikTok, where you can find new videos. But how does TikTok suggest the content?

The system analyzes a set of factors that indicate your level of involvement in the content. Here are the main factors:

  • User interactions: videos that users like, ignore, share, accounts that they follow, the number of comments, and the type of content users create. 
  • Video information: analyzing captions, hashtags, and sounds that users use to create content.
  • Device and account information: analyzing users’ language, country of location, and device type. 

Each of these factors is assessed by TikTok individually for every user. Some of the factors have more weight, while others have less.

Thus, if you’ve watched a minute-long video to the end, TikTok assigns a strong indicator of interest to similar videos.

This indicator is more powerful than minor factors, like viewers’ and creators’ country of origin. 

On top of that, during the first launch, TikTok offers users to choose the categories of their interest and match videos with their preferences.

If the user skips this step, TikTok shows them the most popular videos. 

Features and Technologies of a TikTok-like App

If you’re planning on building an app like TikTok, you should think about essential features beforehand. A TikTok clone with identical features is an expensive and labor-intensive project.

That’s why entrepreneurs use a minimum viable project (a project that demonstrates the app’s basic concept) to test the idea and reduce time-to-market. If the idea appears to be successful, you can integrate advanced features.

Basic features of TikTok

TikTok Basic Features 

Log in / sign up

Users should have a personal account to post the content. Even though TikTok doesn’t oblige viewers to register on the platform, a personal account can improve suggestions and overall user experience. Take care of several options for sign up like email, social networks, and a phone number.

Profile management

Viewers will know more about content creators if you provide a customizable profile. Thus, let users change their profile picture, username, add a bio, and so on. 

Upload videos

The key to success lies in a fast and simple video upload. Any users that decided to post a video should sort out the process with ease. 

Filters and effects

What makes TikTok so successful? Users can apply effects and filters to set the overall mood of the video. Retouching filters for traveling videos or funny masks for comical videos. Your app should have all of them. However, it’s impossible to satisfy every user. In the future, offer your users to add effects by themselves. Thus, they’ll get the exact effects they need for the video, and your design team will have less work to do. 

Sounds

Video without the soundtrack seems half empty. A peaceful soundtrack is a perfect match for an attractive nature edit. So, let your users add custom sounds that last no longer than a minute. However, take care of copyrights. If you use a song without the agreement with a music label, you’ll probably face copyright strikes or even large fines.

Likes and comments

As any social network and video sharing service, TikTok has likes and comments. Comments allow users to communicate with a content creator, while likes help to adjust the suggestion system.

Sharing

Viewers always want to share quality content with their friends. TikTok allows users to share posts via social media and messengers like Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Twitter, and more.  

Push notifications

Notifications help to keep users posted about the latest updates of their favorite content creators. Content creators, in their turn, should be notified about the comments, likes, and shares of their videos. 

Admin panel

With the help of the admin panel, admins monitor the content, comments, and manage users. 

TikTok Advanced Features

TikTok App Development

Geolocation

Geolocation allows you to detect users’ positions and offer the content posted by users from the same region. 

Live video streaming

With video streaming, content creators will be able to communicate with their audience and gather feedback about their work.

AR filters

AR filters can change the appearance of surroundings, like hair color, or add objects above the users’ heads, and so on. Apart from being useful, this technology simply brings the fun. So, it’s a good idea to add AR filters into your app. 

Tech Stack for TikTok App Development

To build a TikTok-like app, you have to understand the requirements for your project clearly. Technologies vary depending on the features and final expectations for your project. That’s why the following tech stack is approximate. 

First, you have to decide on the platform. The majority of modern apps can be built with Swift (iOS) or Kotlin (Android). However, if you’re going for a project for both platforms, it’s worth considering a cross-platform framework.  Flutter is one of the best frameworks for now that can significantly shorten the development time and deliver high performance. 

As for the back-end development, programmers use Node.js programming language and MongoDB or MySQL for databases. Amazon S3 is the most popular cloud storage for mobile apps. Services like Google Cloud Messaging and Apple Push Notifications will help developers to customize notifications for specific needs. Finally, ML Kit and ARCore are the frameworks used for AR masks and filters. 

TikTok App Development Price

While estimating the cost to build a TikTok-like app, you have to consider several factors that affect the price. In this section, we’ll single out each of them and figure out how strong their impact is.

Platforms

It’s obvious that you need to develop an app for both platforms to cover more audience. However, if you’re on a budget, you should choose between iOS and Android, taking your target audience into account.  As for the second platform, you can cover it later.

Native development for both platforms doubles the price compared to the project for a single platform. If you’re going for a cross-platform development, a project for both platforms takes 20% more time than native development for iOS or Android. However, cross-platform apps are often limited in terms of design, performance, and custom features.

Design 

The design is an integral part of the whale project. Without the design, developers won’t have a basis to work on. Depending on your requirements, the design may take up to 30% of the overall development time. 

Development Team

Before searching for a tech partner, you have to know the possible hiring options. The most popular of them are outsourcing companies and in-house teams. Each option has its own benefits and drawbacks. 

In-house teams are much more expensive since developers’ rates in the US and Europe are quite high. Plus, equipment and office rent increases the overall cost of your project. And as for the benefits, in-house teams grant you a high level of control over the development process and superb level of communication with developers. 

In their turn, outsourcing app development companies are popular among startups and large companies. Vendors from different regions provide different hourly rates that are often significantly lower than hiring in-house teams. However, low prices don’t affect product quality. For example, with 192,100 developers, Ukraine has one of the biggest talent pools in Eastern Europe. Still, to hire a dedicated development team, you need to conduct research and check client feedback about companies. 

Wrapping Up

As you can see, TikTok-like app development is a complicated and time-consuming process. It requires you to clearly define the project requirements, make a feature list, and cooperate with developers. As for your engineers, they should have deep expertise with various technologies and understand the niche. However, nothing is impossible when you choose a reliable tech partner.

About the author

Vitaly Kuprenko contributor

Vitaly Kuprenko is a writer for Cleveroad. It’s a web and mobile app development company with headquarters in Ukraine. He enjoys writing about technology and digital marketing.

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