WhatsApp has announced a radical update to its app with the new WhatsApp Status feature, which will let users share photos, GIFs or videos overlaid with drawings, emojis and a caption that will be visible to selected friends for 24 hours, before disappearing.
According to WABetaInfo, with this feature, WhatsApp which is a major Snapchat competitor, has added many new elements to the WhatsApp Status, including annotated pictures, variable distribution and a history of previous status shared.
WhatsApp Status lets users take pictures, add stickers and drawings, and share them to all their contacts for 24 hours. It’s pitched by WhatsApp as an update to the original, text-only, “status” feature, which lets you set a text status like “out for lunch” or “available to talk” within the app, but it’s also a lot like Snapchat Stories.
WhatsApp made the announcement on Monday saying; “Starting today, we are rolling out an update to status, which allows you to share photos and videos with your friends and contacts on WhatsApp in an easy and secure way. Yes, even your status updates are end-to-end encrypted.”
Like Snapchat, the recipient can only view the message twice, whether it’s a photo or video, before it disappears forever. Industry reports also say the camera itself seems to have some filters or something of the sort.
This new Status feature won’t replace WhatsApp’s original status update which is next to each user’s name, along with their profile photo. Instead, it will be a new, separate tab with a + sign that takes users straight to the WhatsApp camera.
Tap that button and you’ll also see updates from other friends and family – which is where the real behavioral change for WhatsApp users will come in. Friends can reply to the new “status” by tapping the reply button, which will be sent as a new WhatsApp message.
Unlike Snapchat the feature has come to Windows Phone the same time as iOS and Android, and according to reports it is now available in Germany, Spain, Netherlands and UK, and should be rolling out to many more places over the next hours and days.
This new Status feature closely apes Instagram and Snapchat stories in implementation and is part of Facebook’s seeming mission to take down Snapchat by subsuming and offering all its features to its own much broader user base. Snapchat’s hugely successful Stories feature which lets users share similarly-ephemeral timelines was launched three years ago,
Snapchat’s hugely successful Stories feature which lets users share similarly-ephemeral timelines was launched three years ago. Last summer, Instagram which is also owned by Facebook rolled out a clone of Stories also called “Stories.”
However, this represents a bigger shift for WhatsApp than it did for Instagram, because it potentially heralds a very different way of using the app. Till now WhatsApp has been a utilitarian hub of activity: people go on there to simply type and read messages and type some more. Not scroll endlessly through streams of other people’s content.
The new WhatsApp Status will change that use case for the first time. It also potentially opens the door to messages from businesses, or rather, advertisers. WhatsApp said more than a year ago that it was looking at ways that businesses could send messages to its users in an unobtrusive and useful way.