Only a few days back, Neeraj Arora, Vice President at the Business Development wing of WhatsApp had announced touching 70 million users in India, making it the most popular mobile instant messaging app in the country.
20 million users were added over the last five months.
As we had pointed out earlier, more than the sheer numbers it is the engagement across this platform which makes it the undisputed Czar of the mobile messaging arena.
Just to give you an idea of WhatsApp engagement, close to 70 Billion messages, 1 Billion pictures and over 200 million videos are shared on WhatsApp every single day!
In an effort to make this more popular, WhatsApp has rolled out two new features earlier in the day and also made one announcement which we are all going to love.
Let’s talk about the freebie first!
WhatsApp to Remain Free For Indian Users
Neeraj Arora has announced that the mobile messenger service will remain free in India.
WhatsApp policy requires users to pay an annual subscription fee of $1 after one year of free messaging. Sensing that India accounts for nearly 10% of WhatsApp total user base and that credit card penetration in India is extremely low, the now Zuckerberg owned network has decided to keep its services free inn India for the moment.
A very small percentage of the population owning credit cards is also the reason why Cash on Delivery (CoD) is the most popular mode of payment across e commerce sites in India.
Neeraj Arora was quick to add, however that they will look forward to monetization in the coming years.
“Indians have it in their DNA to build the next WhatsApp for the world,” he had said earlier.
Two new features
The much talked about WhatsApp features are:
- Read Receipt, and
- VoIP calling
Read Receipts – Already available to Android users
If you have been annoyed by friends and business contacts choosing not to reply to your WhatsApp messages when they didn’t want to, only to reply later with a lame excuses like, “Sorry, I didn’t see your message earlier!”, you are going to love this feature!
Users will now see two blue check marks next to their sent text messages, which will indicate whether or not the recipient has read their message.
The update has been rolled out quietly to Google Play and Android users can already see the blue check marks, though the feature has not been rolled out for Apple users yet.
The best thing about this quiet rollout has been that I did not even have to take the trouble to update my WhatsApp version before I got to see those two tick marks by my messages!!
Those two tick marks by your message indicate that your message has been delivered. Those ticks will turn blue after the message has been read.
Not only this, you can even check WHEN your message was delivered and when it was seen.
The FAQ page notes, “For any message that you send, you will be able to see a Message Info screen, displaying the details of when your message was delivered, read or played by the recipient(s).” Users can check Message Info by tapping and holding a sent message.
That also means that YOU can’t tell your boss that you saw his message very late- while you were out dining with the family!
Free VoIP calling
The rumour of WhatsApp releasing Voice calling have been around for some time, and looks like they might be introducing the much awaited VoIP (Voice over IP) feature soon!
Though there has been no official confirmation about the same, Tipster from DroidApp.nl who is using WhatsApp apk version 2.11.426 “in the folder drawable-hdpi-v11 & v4,” came across icons like these icons which might mean that voice calling over Wi-fi or cellular might soon be a reality.
As of now, it is not yet clear when this feature will be made available but looks like they have been experimenting with it already!
If that happens, it will not only make WhatsApp even more popular, it could also seriously impact the popularity of Skype, Tango, Google Hangouts and Viber.