One of the hindrances of using WhatsApp as your main messaging platform, like most of us do in my part of the world, is that you're tied to your phone (or connected tablet). WhatsApp doesn't authenticate you with usernames or passwords, instead requiring a SIM card to work on any device. It had thus far been completely alien (aside from "hacked" solutions like WhatsRemote) to our desktops and full, comfortable, typing-friendly keyboards.
You may not use WhatsApp to send messages, but it's still the most popular messaging platform in the world. As such, it's a big deal when the switch gets flipped and all those messages are suddenly encrypted. That's what the company is doing now thanks to the just-announced integration of the TextSecure protocol from Open Whisper Systems.
Remember when WhatsApp turned on its Read Receipts feature last week and caused panic all over the world? Well, the company wants nothing to do with your lover quarrels or business disputes — "He ignored my WhatsApp messages!" isn't a court-accepted argument, it seems. So to avoid becoming the second largest cause of divorce, WhatsApp is preparing another update to its app that should make the new feature optional.
Version 2.11.444 (which is only available on WhatsApp's site for now) has a new menu under Settings, Privacy.
"But honey, I only opened WhatsApp to reply to my boss. He still forwards me every stupid joke he gets. I didn't notice your message about the dinner with your parents!"
"Oh. I thought you did and you ignored me."
"No, no, I swear. Is it too late to reschedule now? Please don't tell me that I'm missing another lovely evening with your mother!"
"See, I had a hunch that you were lying, but now I'm sure.
WhatsApp was surprisingly quick off the draw after the release of Android Wear, updating its sideloaded beta app with Wear support early this month. Now the 2.11.362 update is available on the general play store release, so even users who don't want to use the beta (or who don't know about it) can get richer WhatsApp chat notifications on their wrists. Huzzah!
The update to the main app includes most of the standard Wear messaging stuff: full long message viewing, nested/stacked messages with sliding navigation between them, and the usual reply via voice option.
WhatsApp has become a social staple in many countries around the world. Where I live, it's either use WhatsApp or be a social reject... so everyone uses it. However, by relying on the app for all of your messaging and communication needs, you have to accept that its new Android-specific features will come at the developers' whim. Thankfully, they didn't take long to update the app for Android Wear.
Version 2.11.318 of WhatsApp has been made available for download on the official website.
If you want to know why Facebook spent just one billion dollars shy of twenty Instagrams for WhatsApp, look no further than the instant messaging app's number of users. WhatsApp today announced that it now has over half a billion active users. This means that 50,000,000 have signed up since the company's acquisition two months ago and continue to use the app. That's a ton of communication, much of it in parts of the world where Facebook's footprint isn't as large.
Last month Facebook bought WhatsApp for way too much money, making the app's developers very wealthy individuals. This deal, theoretically, gives Facebook access to the data provided by the app's nearly half a billion users. The companies behind the social network and the instant messenger have both promised that WhatsApp will continue to operate autonomously, but this hasn't completely alleviated privacy concerns. Thus WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum has shared a blog post aimed at "setting the record straight."
In it he states:
WhatsApp, the incredibly popular messaging service recently acquired by Facebook for 19 Instagrams dropped an update for Android users today, bringing the app up to version 2.11.186. The update brings to the Play Store features beta users have enjoyed since version 2.11.181 earlier this month.
Users who grab the update will enjoy new privacy settings for "last seen," profile photo, and status (allowing users to limit who can see each), a camera shortcut (a 1x1 widget for quick photo capture), and several other UI improvements.
Now that Facebook has paid $19 billion for WhatsApp, what's next for the mobile messaging app? Voice calls, apparently. According to TechCrunch, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum announced the upcoming feature at Mobile World Congress earlier today. With this new functionality, the app will even more directly compete with the likes of Skype, KakaoTalk, Line, and Viber. Though, without video support, it still won't be an all-encompassing solution just yet.