It was recently revealed that WhatsApp has reached a staggering 1.3 billion monthly active users. You don’t need to be a mathematics major to know that’s a lot of people. But what started as a simple messaging app, has now evolved into so much more. Texts and images dominate the app’s usage (be sure you know how to back them up), with approximately 700 million photos and 100 million videos being sent every day, but WhatsApp has since expanded user options to make calls, and send audio, documents, GIFs, and even your exact location (very useful when trying to find someone at a busy park, for example).
Nevertheless, WhatsApp isn’t stopping there. The Facebook-owned app has a lot of ideas for the future and it looks like we’ll see many changes in the coming months. Here are a few we believe will impact users the most.
Photo filters on their way to Android users
iOS WhatsApp users will no doubt already be aware that five photo filters are now available for editing images, but that option is now coming soon to Android. Pop, B&W, Cool, Chrome, and Film are the filters in question, and whilst not exactly game-changing, still provide a useful selection for those who don’t want to use their phone’s native image editor or the filters on Instagram.
India first to get peer-to-peer payment options
Although an exact date is hard to identify, we do know that India will be the first country to receive the ability to send payments between users. With well over 200 million users, India is WhatsApp’s largest market, with the thriving nation described as “an important country” for the app. It’s unclear when or if other countries will receive peer-to-peer payment options.
Zuckerberg wants WhatsApp to start earning more
Many WhatsApp users love the fact that the app is free and doesn’t contain adverts, but Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has other ideas. Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion, and right now believes it’s time to see a return on the investment. When the discussion of revenue from WhatsApp was discussed recently, Zuckerberg was quoted as saying: “I want to see us move faster…the first thing we need to do on Messenger and WhatsApp is get a lot of businesses using it organically.” But it doesn’t end there, as WhatsApp is said to be trialing a new feature that will allow users to direct message companies.
Although nobody is expecting WhatsApp to become the high-earner that Facebook currently is, Zuckerberg clearly wants to monetize an app that appears ripe for the picking with 1.3 billion users. These business-led ideas, however, are at complete odds with WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton, who have stated numerous times that they despise the notion of adverts on their product. A 2012 post on the WhatsApp blog even said: “No one wakes up excited to see more advertising, no one goes to sleep thinking about the ads they’ll see tomorrow. We know people go to sleep excited about who they chatted with that day (and disappointed about who they didn’t).”
Let’s see how long this clash of ideals can hold out between WhatsApp and Facebook in terms of adverts on the app itself. Still, this hasn’t stopped the widely acknowledged fact that WhatsApp has sold user data to Facebook, a choice that made many start looking for alternate chat apps. In 2016, the tune was changed on the WhatsApp blog, which stated: “Facebook can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them. For example, you might see an ad from a company you already work with, rather than one from someone you’ve never heard of.”
Moves toward a social network
Adverts on the app itself isn’t the only comparison to Facebook, as WhatsApp has now introduced a ‘Status’ feature, similar to the 24-hour ‘Stories’ feature seen on many of today’s social media platforms. Close to 250 million WhatsApp users have taken advantage of the new component, but it remains to be seen just how long these users will keep updating their statuses with healthy competition from Facebook itself, as well as Snapchat and Instagram.