How To Develop A Video-Sharing App Like TikTok

TikTok’s rise to popularity can be attributed to Gen Z’s affinity to video content creation and consumption. Video content is significantly more engaging than text or images and other social media apps such as Instagram are placing a stronger emphasis on video content with new features such as IGtv. 

The interactivity and uniqueness of TikTok has made it especially appealing to those looking to have a more immediate creative stake in the content that they create. TikTok is a short-form video app that allows users to share a 15-second video, combine it with music and tweak them as they like. It works as a social network, where users share videos, participate in challenges, create comedic skits, etc. 

If you are interested in making a social media app that puts video content creation at the center. Consider the following key features to ensure that your app has all the basic key features it needs to be competitive. 

Key features

So, you have a video-sharing application idea that might be even better than TikTok and attract millions of users worldwide and you have a pretty good idea of how it would look like and its functionality. To start with, you need to decide which platforms you’d like to use: iOS, Android, or both. Both choices have their own pros and cons and if the budget allows it’s better to develop your mobile application on both. Based on your choice and the selected functionality it will be easier to estimate the timeframe and the cost required for the development project. 


Provide your users with an option to create an account. One way to go about it is to allow users to sign up using other social media accounts.. A signup form allows the application to collect and store necessary user information that can be later used for communication and promotion. 


Creating a personalized user experience is a must. Leveraging recommendation systems and/or machine learning to provide users relevant content based on their history, friends, etc can improve user retention and time spent using the app.

Advanced search

As this kind of mobile application relies heavily on social interactions, advanced search is crucial to enable users to find other users as well as their content. This also includes hashtag based searching as well. 

Video editing 

This is the key feature for mobile applications like TikTok. Users should be able to upload their own videos to the account, edit and adjust them as necessary, and then share. Think beyond the basic video editing tools you are familiar with and get creative. 

Social features

The app you are building is a social network at its core, so make sure to provide users with features such as following other users, likes and comments and social sharing. Connect your application to other major social platforms so that users can easily share their videos. Content production plays a big role in the success of video-sharing apps, but its user engagement that helps to retain them on the platform. 

It’s also worth noting that some companies are experimenting with user experiences to make social media healthier for people. This means removing the number of followers and likes from public access. If you wish for your app to be a “good citizen” on the internet, consider working to make your app as “healthy” as possible.

Payment gateway

If you are planning to monetize your application with in-app purchases, make sure you provide your users with a convenient way to buy from the app. A complicated purchasing process would turn users off and it is important to avoid it as the majority of purchases in apps are impulsive and spontaneous. 

Note that most mainstream social media apps do not have any type of in-app purchases with the exception of gaming social network apps. 

Push notifications

Push notifications help bring users back to your application and maintain higher retention rates. With push notifications, users will be notified when certain users have published new videos or if there were new interactions with their own content. It’s impossible to stay online all the time and push notifications to help users to keep up to date with the updates. 

Tech Stack 

Users prefer apps that are easy and fun to use. A simple interface and straightforward functionality will do your application better than unique features that are impossible to use. 

The key elements that the users would care about are the ability to upload and edit videos and connect socially - chat, message, show appreciation to other users with hearts or likes (or any other “currency” that you choose for your application).

To enable all these features to run smoothly in your video-sharing mobile application like TikTok, you would need the following technology stack:

  • Programming: GWT
  • Real-Time Analytics: Apache Flink, Spark Streaming, Azure Stream Analytics
  • Storage: Azure, Amazon S3, or Google Cloud Storage
  • Streaming Media System: Wowza Streaming Engine Helix Universal Server, Nimble Streamer
  • Cloud Environment: AWS
  • Video/audio Transcoding: FFMPEG, Amazon elastic transcoder
  • Database: Postgres, Cassandra, MailChimp Integration, HBase, Mongo DB
  • For Database Management: Datastax
  • Push Notifications: Twilio, Integrated Cloud Applications and Platform Services
  • Phone, Voice & SMS Verification: Nexmo, Twilio
  • Emails: Mandrill or similar
  • The Team Required To Develop The App
  • Universal Operating System: Debian
  • Payments: E-Wallet, Stripe, PayPal & Braintree.

Cost of development

If you look at the TikTok app you will see that it has fluid UX/UI. The quality of design matches its functionality making it easy to use and fun to spend time with. If you want to develop a video-sharing mobile application on the same level you need to consider the budget that it would require. 

The cost of mobile app development for an application like TikTok would depend on the following factors:

  • The Platform ( iOS or Android or both)
  • Complexities in the design
  • Backend and API integration
  • Basic and additional features
  • Quality assessment and testing
  • Third-party integrations
  • Human resources
  • App security
  • Support and maintenance

You can expect the price for the basic version of the app to be around $20000-$30000 and go up to $40000 if you want to add more features to it. Of course, the price and timeline of every development project is individual and depends on the resources that you have and the complexity of the project. 

Keep in mind that the work on the app doesn’t stop once it has been released - it would require maintenance and support to provide the best experience for its users, which also adds to the cost. With the fast-changing technological space, you’d need to update the application regularly in order to stay relevant in the market. These and other smaller costs might not matter that much in the initial budget, but it’s important to keep them in mind to avoid unpleasant monetary surprises once the app goes live.







Daniel Alcanja



Co-Founder & CTO of Trio. With more than 17 years of programming experience