- WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging application with 1.2 billion monthly active users worldwide, added new features to its version for Apple iOS. An Android version will come at an unspecified date, according to TechCrunch.
- WhatsApp now has in-app filters for photos, videos and animated GIFs to add flair or retouching to images that users share with each other. The app automatically groups collections of four or more photos or videos into an album arranged in a tile display within the messaging window. A more detailed, full-screen view of the album appears with a single tap.
- The update also includes reply shortcuts to respond to a specific message in a thread. This feature helps to respond individually to people participating in fast-moving group chats that can quickly bury messages off-screen.
Facebook’s various messaging and photo-sharing services are starting to resemble each other with new features. The social network, which has copied several of Snapchat’s features into Instagram and Messenger, is giving WhatsApp more features to manipulate and share images. In February, WhatsApp added a Status feature for sharing updates with friends, including images that expire after 24 hours, similar to Snapchat’s core function of providing disappearing messages. As bandwidth improves and smartphone screens get bigger, this shift to more imagery could maintain the appeal of WhatsApp among teens and young users worldwide.
The future of WhatsApp may be seen in the way Facebook has developed Messenger to handle interactions between consumers and businesses with chatbot technology. Online retailers are using Messenger to provide tracking updates on shipments, while banks use the platform to notify customers of possibly fraudulent account activity, for example. Instagram began selling clickable ads last week to directly reach businesses and brands on Messenger. The ad placements will be available to all businesses in the next few months.
Last August, WhatsApp unveiled plans to let brands use its platform to send commercial messages to its users. This is another signal that reflects how popular messaging apps reimagine traditional marketing and can unlock direct engagement opportunities for brands.