Whatsapp the instant messaging service for smartphones available across platforms, owned by Facebook, is set to launch more updates for the application. The application was launched in the year 2009 and since then has kept on adding features. Found by the former employees of yahoo, Brian Acton and Jon Koum, the application was first launched in the iPhone’s app store.
Whatsapp began its journey at a time when the mobile world was opening up to applications. Initially, the application was functioning let the users create a profile attached with a status to it.
When Apple launched the push notification feature which means the application developers can ping the users when they are not active. This means whenever a person using Whatsapp changed their status there has been a notification sent to others.
Only in the second version, the developers launched a messaging service. Since then there was a severe increase in the number of users and the company decided to move to a paid model from a free model to limit the users.
After a few months in December 2009, the application was upgraded to send photos among the users.
In the year 2014, the application was acquired by Facebook for $1.5 billion valuations.
At present, the application has one billion active users and is the most popular messaging app.
How Does WhatsApp Actually Work?
Whatsapp uses extensible messaging and presence protocol, which is customised in accordance of the app. The user accounts are created on the basis of the phone number as username.
The software goes through the phonebook of the user and scans for existing users to automatically add to the contact list of the platform.
The app follows store and forward policy. That means when a user sends a message they are stored on WhatsApp’s servers and are later sent to the receiver. So after sending the message to designated person the message gets deleted from the server. However, the messages are stored for only 30 days on the server and after that, they get deleted automatically. So if a user is inactive for more than 30 days they will not receive messages which were sent to them before that period.
In the year 2011, a security hole was found in the application which led anyone to read messages since the transmission was not encrypted and contained plain text. It means the platform was open for session hijacking and packet analysis.
In 2012 the transmitted messages were no longer plain text they were encrypted.
In the year 2014 open whispers systems partnered with Whatsapp to provide end-to-end encryption of messages.
How does it work?
The method followed is called “The signal protocol” that is, every message transmitted has a key for it. This means that the messages are sent and received with a little bit of delay. However not huge enough to affect the rate of conversation
Apps like telegram have the feature to start end-to-end encryption by entering a secret chat. In Whatsapp, the features are on all the time.
Whatsapp has enabled the transfer of files such as DOCX, PDF, VCF and DOCS over the platform.
Whatsapp has brought italics, bold and strikethrough option while messaging. Also, there is a new update which lets users selectively save media from users or groups. This means you can save data from you some of your friends and not from others and similarly for groups. Earlier the option was general and you can turn off completely or turn on completely. Most of them we are not interested in media that is available on groups so this features helps in saving internet data and keeps our phone clean from getting cluttered with unnecessary media.
Since the beginning of 2016 Whatsapp has been adding a lot of features to the platform and the other latest one being the zoom in feature for videos.
Users can pull down in-app notifications for the faster reply and missed calls are shown within the chat instead of the separate tab.
As of January 2016, the founder of Whatsapp has stated that the application will not charge one dollar subscription fee because in many countries people are not equipped with debit and card cards.
The company will also not bring any advertisement on its platform but will bring the feature to chat with business organisations.
The group chat size was also increased to 256 and one can use the information icon represented by “i” in a circle to know who has read messages in a group.
Earlier a group had a single admin now an admin can designate multiple administrators in the group and all of them have equal powers.
The platform already has the facility to send videos, voice messages and voice calling, it has now decided to add video calling feature.
Currently, it is being tested in iOS which is being run on few devices with the beta version of the application. Though there is no official word on when the feature will be integrated, it seems to be the natural step for the application.
Group Chat Invites
Whatsapp is trying to introduce group chat invite using NFC tags and QR codes
Near field communication tags for phones come as small discs of plastics which require no external power but draw small amounts from the phone to send information to the attached phone.
These are unformatted ones like a floppy disk and can be fed with data using an application in your smartphone like NFC task launcher. The app lets you write data to the tag which will connect with the activities over the phone.
NFC is most popularly used in cars and bikes at present.
Quick response codes again have apps that can scan them and read the information attached to them.
Both of these technologies are being used to create an invite for group chat.
Earlier there was no invite feature available on the platform and admins of the group added numbers of the users.
Updates are necessary for any tech to survive for a long time. In the messaging space, there are already several companies competing with each other to capture the market. Some of the popular ones are a telegram, line and snapchat which have something interesting to offer to the customers.
However while developing these new additional features Whatsapp developers should make sure how well they run on slow networks.
There are various security holes in Whatsapp which have been rectified time and again by the developers. After the acquisition of facebook UK’s privacy commissioner has also sent a warning to FB authorities regarding the reading of data by the social network.
Whatsapp On The Web
Whatsapp is said to be working to create a native app for windows 10. It rivals like telegram wechat and line already have native web apps so it’s time they catch up.
Therefore all the global Whatsapp users can be excited about all the updates that are lined up and increase the user experience.