Building a dating app like Tinder is much the same as building a relationship – it takes time (which in the case of app development, means money) to develop something special. If you've been keeping up with our How much does it cost? series, you'll be familiar with the app development cost equation: Feature set + scale + hourly rate = total development cost.
Using this equation, we can determine that based on the scale of the app being created, the cost of developing an app with a feature set similar to that of Tinder would range from $80,000 to $150,000. These are, of course, the ranges of your app's initial development cost – you can expect to spend one-fifth of your app's total development cost in app maintenance every year.
It's important to note that no app is the same – and until you have your app's entire feature set planned out, it's backend systems architected, and your market research complete, you won't be able to accurately assess the true cost of your app's development. The estimates below are just that – estimates. While these ranges do come with the backing of years of professional experience and know-how, development of any app's feature set can vary wildly depending on many factors.
Let's look over Tinder's feature set, and go over the individual aspects that influence a dating app's cost of development:
Tinder's feature set
For every screen an app has, and for every point of interaction on those screens, more time will be spent designing and animating your app. Animation is a key factor to user retention in any app, but when designing an experience meant to entice users, animation is a necessity.
Depending on the number of features your app utilizes, your UI/UX costs could range anywhere from $6000 to $15,000. If your app is being developed for both iOS and Android, this time will be nearly doubled (this is applicable to most app features).
A quick onboarding process is another important development choice when it comes to maximizing your app's user retention. The less steps a user needs to take before they are able to use your app, the better. This is where social login integration comes into play.
Tinder connects a user to their Facebook profile, and then creates unique credentials for that user, which can then be used by the user to login to Tinder. While the user is still effective logging in via Facebook, Tinder creates a unique tag based on the user's Facebook profile to increase its security. Implementation of this feature can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,500, depending on the level of security you want in place.
PubNub can provide real-time integration for chat features, IoT device communication and streaming, mapping, GPS, push notifications, and alerts. PubNub's services start at $49 per month, plus data transaction fees.
Kafka can be used for messaging, website activity tracking, log aggregation, stream processing, and event sourcing. Like everything under the Apache license, it's open source, and therefore a free API to implement.
There are many more real-time services that provide real-time chat functionality, like AWS and Google Firebase. For more about realtime implementation, check out our How much does it cost to implement realtime updates in your app? blog.
After using the Facebook login feature, Tinder will mine for specific data from a user's Facebook profile – examples being mutual friends and common interests, as well as location.
Implementing a feature such as this can range from $10,000 to $13,500, depending on how much information you want your app to collect.
In order to keep track of who a user has matched with, potentially matched, rejected, and been rejected by, Tinder must store data tied to individual user profiles. This data would be collected and stored in the backend in data tables located in remote servers.
When users add a profile photo, edit their bio, or make any change to their profile, the app will re-write the data stored on the server. Anytime a user views another user's profile, they are connecting to the server that houses the respective data.
Implementing a feature like this can take 120 to 200 hours of development time – building out the data layers necessary for an app like Tinder is a massive undertaking. Also, be aware -managing a growing user base over time can significantly increase your backend server maintenance costs.
We all know how the process of using Tinder works; if a user swipes right on another user's photo, and then that user swipes right on the other user's photo, a match is created, and the users can then begin chatting through the app.
While this creates an easily understandable flow for the user, there is a significant amount of real-time data transferring that must take place in order for this feature to be properly implemented.
Notifications are one of the most effective forms of engaging users when they aren't directly using your app. They are also incredibly practical calls to action – if a Tinder user gets a match, they can be alerted via a push notification alerting them as such. Or, if a user has ran out of swipes for the month, but has a high number of potential matches, you can entice the user to buy more swipes so they can connect with the users who have expressed interest in their profile.
For more about implementing push notifications, check out our blog How much does it cost to implement push notifications? – with Kumulos.
Tinder automatically detects a users location, and provides potential matches based on that location. Tinder also gives users the ability to pin their location to a specific area, and to change their location entirely.
Implementing this feature would range from three to five hours of development time, but this estimate can change depending on the complexity of the system you are creating, and the SDK you are utilizing.
Tinder uses in-app purchasing to increase its revenue – from paid subscriptions to emoji packages, users can make purchases through the app. In order to implement in-app purchasing, you can use a payment API like Stripe.
Tinder's revenue stream is massive – in 2018, the app made $800 million. The app sees about 50 million users per month, has 3.8 million paying subscribers, generates almost 26 million matches every day, and users swipe over 1.6 billion times every 24 hours.
While developing and maintaining a dating app like Tinder might have a fairly high initial development cost, the potential revenue your app can generate more than makes up for it. For more about app maintenance costs, visit our blog, How much does it cost to update an app?