The most popular messaging and calling app
Sending text or voice messages, as well as sending files from your smartphone, is now much easier than a few years ago. This is mainly due to the domination of WhatsApp, the mobile instant messaging application par excellence, that started revolutionizing the communications field in 2009.
Easy, fast and comfortable.
One of the reasons of its great success is how easy it is to use, much simpler than sending traditional SMS. On the other hand, we have to point out the wide range of options that it has incorporated over the last few years. These are some of the most important ones:
- Send text and voice messages without any additional costs, even to users in other countries.
- Exchange files (whether photos, audio or video) with other users of the application.
- Possibility to make free calls very easily.
- Wide range of emojis that are constantly updated. You can find multi-racial emojis or even much-awaited emoticons such as lifting your middle finger or a Vulcanian salute from Star Trek.
- Creation and administration of groups with up to 256 participants, that can take part in group chats.
- Possibility to get to know the WhatsApp status of your contacts (provided that they haven’t decided to hide it).
- Check system for messages: Gray check means that the message has been sent, double gray check that the message has been delivered and double blue check that the message has been read.
- Works both on data plans and on Wi-Fi.
- Multiplatform application that can be used on different kinds of smartphones, as well as on your PC or through the official web application that can be used on Chrome, Firefox and Edge, the new Windows 10 browser.
Over 1 billion users guarantee its high-quality
Just in case all the options included in the application haven’t been able to impress you, you should know that over 1 billion active users use the application every month. Many of your friends and family are probably among them. Obviously, many more people have tried out WhatsApp at some point in their lives, as according to Google Play, this application has been installed between 1 and 5 billion times.
The story behind WhatsApp
The birth of this application took place on February 24th, 2009. A couple of years before, Jan Koum and Brian Acton (friends and employees at Yahoo!) decided to leave their job to take a break, relax and rest from their routine. With an open mind, they came up with new ideas and that’s how they decided to found the company. Hardly two years later, at the beginning of 2011, everyone was talking about WhatsApp and it was soon topping the rankings of the App Store. The first investors soon came along, including the venture capital firm Sequoia.
It couldn’t stop growing over the next few years, reaching 450 million active users per month at the time that bombshell hit the headlines: on February 19th, 2014, Facebook bought the most famous mobile instant messaging application of all time for about 19 billion dollars, if we put together both the cash and the shares offered to Koum, Acton and other employees.
After a year full of ups and downs, during the first quarter of 2015, WhatsApp users received one of the most awaited features: the possibility to make free calls from the application. This same year also meant the arrival of another anticipated update: the launch of the official web version that allows us to use the popular messaging client from any PC.
In 2016 we finally received the good news that WhatsApp would be free forever, without a doubt, a great boost to use this instant messaging application instead of others.
Advantages of using this application
We can point out the following among the main advantages of this messaging client:
- Allows real-time communication between two users or a group of them.
- Easy to use.
- Incorporate a modern interface based on Material Design.
- Very popular, so the chances that anyone you need to get in touch with has it installed are very high.
- Recognizes the contacts from your list that already have the app installed and synchronizes them automatically.
- Allows us to carry out backups of all our messages and files in Google Drive straight from the application.
Aspects to be improved
These are some of the drawbacks that could be amended:
- Users miss a desktop client specifically designed to be used from a PC.
- You need to have your smartphone switched on to use the web application.
- You can’t disable the double blue check (to read a message without letting the sender know) and at the same time know when other users have read your messages.
- Everyone thinks that the application should implement greater security and privacy levels, although part of the problems have been solved with WhatsApp's new end-to-end encryption.
The greatest flaws in WhatsApp’s history
Like any other application, WhatsApp has also gone through very delicate times during which its functioning or security has been compromised to a great extent. Here are some of the most important flaws in its short life:
- In June 2011, Security by Default published severe security flaws associated to how the service saves information about contacts, chats and sessions, in easy-to-access databases with no encryption.
- In September 2012, the low security of our messages became a trendy topic. Despite being encrypted, this encryption isn’t very strong.
- In October 2013, a vulnerability affecting the security regarding the use of identical keys to send and receive messages was discovered.
- On February 24th 2014, the service was down for more than 4 hours. Come May the service’s downtime happens again (for at least 1 hour) and in August these connectivity problems return for a few minutes.
- In December 2014, two teenagers found a bug that allowed them to block another user’s application remotely by just sending a message.
- At the beginning of 2015, several flaws affecting the web application that jeopardized the user’s privacy were discovered. Likewise, we found out that the instant messaging program saved the photos of users on servers without encryption. There were also errors when synchronizing the webapp with the mobile application.
The mobile communications leader
Although many companies have tried to copy the success achieved by WhatsApp, very few have managed to come close. Tools like LINE or Telegram have been able to attract interest from quite a few users around the world, but totally unable to depose the king. This application is tremendously popular in countries such as Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, Singapore… Although, speaking in general, no current application has managed overshadow it, there is a client in China that’s on its heels: that’s the case of WeChat.
First steps using WhatsApp
If you’re a newbie, there’s no need to worry, as it’s really easy to install and use. Before you start off, you need to know that the application is free for the first year. After that period, you can renew your subscription for just a few cents.
Once you’ve completed the installation, it will automatically recognize the people from your contact list that already have the application and will start synchronizing them. You won’t have to do anything else: Push notifications on your home screen will tell you each time you receive a message. You’ll always be available and you can access your messages without requiring passwords or logins.
Without a doubt, WhatsApp has definitely changed how users keep in touch. Now it’s much easier than ever to plan get-togethers with friends or arrange family meetings. Finding out how any of your contacts are or telling everyone your latest adventures is now possible with just a simple message. Easy, fast and comfortable.
New in the latest version:
- Enables automatic end-to-end encryption for messages and calls.
- Requires Android 2.1 or above.
- The storage space required and the version of the application vary depending on the device on which it's installed.
- Offers in-app purchases.
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