What exactly made WhatsApp the favourite chat app not only in India but around the globe?
While Facebook has had a tumultuous journey in 2018, its chat application WhatsApp, which has amassed over 2 billion users worldwide, has only been soaring high, largely because of the features it has continually rolled out for its users. Despite the obstructions that weighed down its growth and ultimate presence in India, WhatsApp has managed to outdo its rivals by leaps and bounds and sits currently at a position that’s nearly unshakeable. But what exactly made WhatsApp the favourite chat app not only in India but around the globe?
Although the concept of an instant messaging service is not new, WhatsApp has devised a strategy to keep its users engaged by rolling out the features that are productive at best and a blatant copy at worst, but it’s the former that matters the most since WhatsApp enjoys a wider user base. As the year 2018 is closing, we have a bagful of new features that WhatsApp introduced and repackaged to serve to its users. Here are the top five features that have been quite popular and happen to be our favourite as well:
WhatsApp Stickers: If there has ever been a feature that WhatsApp users have celebrated more than using it, it’s the Stickers. The WhatsApp Stickers were rolled out in late October, just in time for the festival of lights Diwali celebrated across India. The Stickers are an alternative to sending plain textual messages and have been available for a long time on the rivalling apps such as WeChat, Line, and Hike. But it was WhatsApp that actually made the feature mainstream – numerous apps and sticker packs, meant to be sent to WhatsApp chats, mushroomed in app marketplaces on both Android and iOS. The outbreak was so large Apple had to weed out a large number of such apps for violating the App Store guidelines.
WhatsApp Stickers are currently available in a separate tab available via the emoji button. Most of the sticker packs available for WhatsApp are also the same as the ones Facebook Messenger offers. While the sticker packs are mostly free of charge, they could become a revenue source for developers, and ultimately WhatsApp, given the demand for stickers seems unending at the moment. The ability to exchange messages and ideas via stickers is something that is as much interesting as it’s convenient, which is why it’s at the top in our list.
Swipe to Reply – Another feature that is quite handy while you are chatting with your WhatsApp contacts, especially in a group, is the Swipe to Reply. While the feature was made available to the iOS users last year in June, it was in October this year, the Android users were introduced to something that made group conversations easier than ever. Today, it’s probably one of the highly-used features in a group. All the user needs to do is swipe a message in the right direction to reply to it in both individual and group chats. This not only helps the contact understand the context for the reply but also eliminates ambiguity, whatsoever, in a conversation thread.
Picture-in-Picture Mode – The Picture-in-Picture mode, otherwise known as PiP mode, is the latest addition to both WhatsApp Messenger apps and WhatsApp Web. The PiP mode became popular with Android Oreo as many app developers began experimenting with the feature. The mode essentially breaks off an element from the current screen to open a new window that offers uninterrupted access to both the new window and the original app.
On WhatsApp, the PiP mode is available for the videos shared from the supported platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Instead of opening the corresponding app, the videos play in a separate window within the chat screen so that you can continue messaging while watching the video. The video window can also be maximised to full screen, however, with fewer controls. For example, the ability to fit the video to the screen’s aspect ratio (usually on 18:5 displays and higher) is not available in PiP mode. Also, the portrait videos are scaled to fit a horizontal setup with blank screen on either side.
Mute Notifications – If you are a part of uncountable groups on WhatsApp, you may know the pain of keeping up with all the messages. But more than this, it’s hard for you to not get distracted by the inflow of message notifications from WhatsApp. Enter Mute notifications and all the pain just magically vanishes. The Mute Notifications feature not only solves the problem of having to deal with all the spammed notifications but also gives a chance to take a break from WhatsApp.
The Mute Notifications can be set for 8 hours, 1 week, or 1 year – although, an option to customise the time limit should be offered to the users. Where 8 hours is appropriately adequate for most users, 1 year is impolitely absurd specifically when it’s been set for a group chat. The opportunity to relax that Mute Notifications gives is unmatched, which is why it’s one of the top features this year.
Request Account Info – While this is not exactly a feature that most people would know or use, it’s arguably the most important one. By the end of 2018, people who are familiar with how Internet companies work need no explainers on why privacy is important, which is why it becomes nearly mandatory to keep a check on what and how much data is collected by the companies. Back in March when the data privacy row sparked, leading tech companies came under the radar for not providing the users with ample tools to get a hold of their personal information. The outcome was that every Internet service and app from the leading companies came with proper disclosures and options to review the data and information that users have confided them with.
WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned company, too began rolling out the option to download a copy of all the data. Available in the Account settings, the Request Account Info can be tapped to download a copy of everything that you have done on WhatsApp since you signed up. The tool takes about three days to create a backup of all your data and when it’s done, WhatsApp will automatically send an email to your address registered with WhatsApp. The mail contains a downloadable file of all the data.
That’s it. These were the top features that have been quite popular and even our favourite in 2018. But the list does not end here – there are many other features that people like to use in WhatsApp, along with some that are highly desired, such as the Dark Mode.