WhatsApp’s next mission: Get Indians talking on the app without the need of typing

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New Delhi | Updated: March 30, 2019 1:02:14 PM

WhatsApp is always working on new features makes it even more exciting for the users to wait and try them out and repeat

WhatsApp has begun rolling out a new feature in a beta update (Source: Reuters)

From being a mere chat app to becoming a global phenomenon in a short span of time, WhatsApp has seen it all. Facebook-owned chat app grossed a huge base of users that always had other chat apps at their disposal but they never bothered leaving WhatsApp. The popularity and use cases of WhatsApp are glorified, at least in the Indian context, so much so that major political parties, big companies, and some such entities have welcomed WhatsApp as the primary means to disseminate a larger chunk of their business to consumers.

The fact that WhatsApp is always working on new features makes it even more exciting for the users to wait and try them out and repeat. In terms of accessibility, WhatsApp has a few tricks up the sleeves that make it have an upper hand over the rivals. Let’s address one of the features that are set to change the basic premise of using chat apps. In a recent report by WABetaInfo, WhatsApp beta for Android version 2.19.86 was spotted with a rather useful feature that might lessen the scope of textual conversations – something that most Indian users desperately crave.

Read | How to download WhatsApp Status video on your phone

WhatsApp beta for Android has brought the consecutive voice messages feature that essentially lets the sender and the recipient hear the audio messages in a consecutive manner without any interruption. While this feature is currently available for the users who are using the beta build, it should be rolled out for the stable users in the coming days. But we are going to stress how this feature has the potential to minimise the text-based conversations for a large fraction of Indian users who still have a hard time typing or reading on a phone.

According to a report co-released by Google and KPMG in 2017, out of whopping 234 million Internet users in India, only 175 million know English, which also includes the users who are simple-minded enough to spell (and read) a few words in English. A large portion remains uncharted for the tech companies to explore in terms of proliferation of Indic languages. While the apps today come with support for most of India’s regional languages, the device ecosystem required to make them convenient is cumbersome. The user has to go through a set of steps on their phone in English just to reach the page where Hindi (or other regional ones) can be set as the default language.

With consecutive voice messages, WhatsApp will skip the need for the user to type messages. They can simply tap the ‘mic’ icon next to the text field, speak the message out, and send. The recipient just needs to hit the play icon and listen to the messages consecutively. Prior to this feature, even the voice messaging on WhatsApp was tiresome. The users had to record the voice message, hit send, wait for the recipient to send the reply – and if there are multiple messages, they were required to play them individually.

Besides, WhatsApp is ramping up its efforts to become a ‘healthy’ app. The company is in the process of finalising dark mode for Android and iOS apps. WABetaInfo obtained some screenshots from an early beta build of WhatsApp that show what dark mode will look like. Dark mode is not activated as of the last beta build but it, at least, hints at the end of the spell.

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