If you’re a WhatsApp user, whether through their official application or previously through a popular third party application for it called WhatsApp Plus, you’ve more than likely been following the news surrounding WhatsApp this past week. Facebook(who is the owner of WhatsApp)has been making some big changes for the messaging application as of late and with all the shifting in directions we’re left to visualize what’s next for WhatsApp. It isn’t too hard to picture, as two of the major changes they have made or announced this week somewhat follow the same path and attempt to serve the same purpose, which is to make WhatsApp more accessible.
This is evident by two things. Facebook has finally brought WhatsApp to the web. After months of talk about a desktop version of the insanely popular messaging application, this week WhatsApp for the desktop finally made its debut, allowing users to access their message streams from their laptop or desktop should they already be using their computer. This makes things easier for heavy WhatsApp users who like to use the service to stay in contact with their family and friends but don’t have the time to pull out their phones and shoot a quick message. In the sense of productivity and efficiency, this makes sense. Perhaps on a larger scale though, Facebook is using this opportunity to bring WhatsApp to more people. The group of people who wouldn’t use WhatsApp on their phones but instead only if they could send messages from their browser. Facebook already offers this sort of split capability for their Messenger service, so perhaps it was only a matter of time before they brought a web based experience to the users of WhatsApp as well. It isn’t immediately known if Facebook would ever consider merging the two services into one massive messaging platform, but it would make sense if they were trying to consolidate Messenger and WhatsApp into one entire service. Whether or not Facebook is planning a transition of the sort is unknown but it’s somewhat of a logical move as there’s no real reason for them to have two competing services that offer the messaging platform on both mobile devices as well as the browser.
Facebook also introduced a new product for WhatsApp users that could not only give them more value in using the app, but could also potentially be another way for them to snag new users. It’s called the WhatSIM, and is basically a cheap little SIM card that has one purpose, to bring WhatsApp messaging to users anywhere in the world for free by purchasing the inexpensive WhatSIM. For those that travel and want to stay connected to friends and family, WhatSIM is a cheap one time payment for the SIM and offers free use of WhatsApp messaging thereafter, no matter where you are. Facebook has made an interesting choice here, one that serves as a way to bring in some more revenue, by bolstering their user base and making it possible for people who might have never used WhatsApp a chance to see what it’s all about now that there’s a chance to use it for free. WhatsApp could also be looking to finally add a voice calls feature to the service, as a user on reddit states that a “calls folder” had shown up in their application after WhatsApp had received a recent update. With Facebook offering free messaging worldwide via the new whatSIM, a browser based application, and potentially an upcoming voice service that promised near a year ago, WhatsApp is potentially due to cover all bases of communication regardless of platform or location.
It isn’t necessarily in direct correlation with what seems like expansion efforts for WhatsApp, but the cease and desist order given to the team of developers who had created WhatsApp Plus(the third party WhatsApp app)could have something to do with what Facebook has planned for the future of WhatsApp. Perhaps Facebook is just trying to protect their assets and maybe it all just comes down to a violation of terms of service. WhatsApp Plus isn’t new though, so if the app violated the terms of service why wait until now to shut things down? Maybe Facebook is planning some new additions to the official WhatsApp application that WhatsApp Plus already offered, and it would make sense if they didn’t want any competition over it. Whatever Facebook has planned for the future of WhatsApp, gaining more users and expanding the WhatsApp platform seems to be a clear move.