WhatsApp was incorporated in 2009 by two former engineers of Yahoo – Jan Koum and Brian Acton.
After losing their jobs at the tech giant, the duo went looking for new employment in different tech companies including Facebook. However, they could not secure any job and so they went for a vacation in South America and that’s where the fairytale of the now leading instant messaging platform began.
The chat client is tied to the standard cellular phone numbers and uses the internet to send text messages, images, videos, documents, location, audio files, voice messages, GIFs, PDF files, phone contacts, make voice and video calls. The messenger is a cross-platform client and is encrypted by end-to-end data encryption protocol.
On February 19, 2014, Facebook, led by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, announced that the company had purchased WhatsApp for about $19 billion – which is also the largest acquisition by the social media livewire to date. By August the same year, WhatsApp was the most popular instant messaging platform with over 600 million active subscribers. The number had swollen to 700 million MAUs by January 2015, with more than 30 billion messages shared per day. The user base has continued to grow tremendously during the Facebook era, standing at over a billion monthly active users as at February 2016.
Some of the best features have hit the chat client during the era. In 2016 alone the now most used chat messenger has received some of the best functions and improvements:
Annual subscription fee disbandment
On January 18, 2016, WhatsApp announced the ditching of its $1 annual subscription fee and therefore users were given lifetime free access. The company said that it will instead earn income by developing a system that would enable businesses and brands to communicate with their customers via the app. It was also noted that some users majorly from developing countries did not have credit cards and could also not pay the fee physically.
End-to-End data Encryption
The security feature was introduced to the chat client on April 5, 2016. WhatsApp, in partnership with Open Whisper Systems, announced then that the feature was ready and users’ messages were now well protected. Unlike Telegram’s data encryption that allows users to opt for the feature by starting private chats, WhatsApp encryption is default meaning users cannot switch it on or off. Encryption means no third party can spy on users’ data, not even security agencies or hackers, not even WhatsApp itself can decode the messages thus the secret lies between the sender and the receiver.
Quote and Reply feature
WhatsApp added Quote and Reply feature in June. The feature is aimed at enhancing group chats where a lot of messages are flung and a group member has to use a lot of words to reply to messages that were sent earlier. With this feature, you can reply to any message by simply selecting the desired message then choose reply icon from the appearing menu and the message will be quoted and a text area will be left to key in your reply. The feature is not only for group chats but also applicable to one-on-one conversations.
Support for GIF files
The Facebook-owned app now allows users to send GIFs without having to convert them to videos. The feature which is very popular in Twitter has been added to the chat service this year after several months in the making.
Windows and Mac platform
In May 2016, WhatsApp launched a native desktop app for Windows and Mac operating systems. The app works almost like WhatsApp Web which is simply an extension of the user’s WhatsApp on the phone- all messages are synced with the mobile app.
WhatsApp finally activated the long-awaited feature on the app’s main client barely a week ago. The service now joins the likes of Skype, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts/Duo and other messengers which offer the face-to-face chat. At the time of launch, the company said that the feature has been boosted to work in countries with slow cellular data connections.
Two-step Verification feature
WhatsApp is currently testing Two-step verification feature on the Android beta app. The feature seeks to tighten security on the app. With this function users will be required to submit the One Time Password (OTP) sent to their phone numbers and a six-digit passcode set when activating the process every time they will be signing up with their numbers.
WhatsApp gives you an awesome chatting experience in an ad-free environment. Grab your app from the Google Play Store, App Store or Windows Store and join a billion plus other subscribers.