August 7, 2013
300 Million People Now Message With WhatsApp
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
WhatsApp, the popular messaging service that many larger companies have been rumored to buy, has just announced it now has 300 million active users. To celebrate this fact, WhatsApp has also just released a new update to its app which brings push-to-talk messaging to the platform.
Users can already use the app to send text, photos and videos to one another, regardless of what phone they use. Though other similar apps also have voice messaging (such as Facebook or Voxer), WhatsApp is positioning its new feature to be even easier to use.
In an interview with All Things D, WhatsApp's cofounder and CEO Jan Koum said it only takes one tap to record and send a message to a friend. Facebook's voice messaging, on the other hand, requires up to three taps, an important distinction says Koum. "The number of taps matters. People want to send a message and be on their way," said Koum in an interview with All Things D. Voice messaging is something Koum says his company has been working hard to get the right implementation. WhatsApp began rolling out this new feature to all platforms earlier this week.
In April, Koum took the stage at the All Things D: Dive Into Mobile conference to discuss how rapidly his company has been growing, thanks to an increased interest in cross-platform messaging. At the time he said the company was facilitating some 20 billion messages a day, or eight billion inbound messages and 12 billion outbound. Koum says they separate these numbers because some messages are sent to multiple people. During his interview at the Dive Into Mobile conference, Koum also claimed that the 20 billion messages made WhatsApp bigger than Twitter and its stable of 200 million active users.
Since the April interview, WhatsApp has grown to handle around 11 billion inbound messages and 20 billion outbound each day. This is even an increase since June when the company announced they were handling 27 billion total each day. Of these messages, 325 million contain pictures, handily beating Snapchat's new high of 200 million every day.
With so much growth on such a large platform, an update that includes voice messaging may sound like minor news. Koum says this update has been a personal pet project for him, however, and he insisted on users being able to send messages with minimal taps.
Users can speak into their phones for as long as they want and WhatsApp captures their message and sends it out to their friends. When their friends receive the message, a little mic icon turns blue, a feature which Koum calls "reassuring."
To send a message, a user can tap and hold the microphone button, just as it's done in other apps. The message is then immediately sent when the user lets go of the button. Should they decide they want to scrap the recording , they can swipe left while holding the mic button and the recording is deleted.
Though the app is free in the Google Play app store for Android and Apple's App Store, users will have to pay 99 cents every year to continue using the service.