Whatsapp: Everything you need to know

WhatsApp Messenger is a popular chat app for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. This page contains information about WhatsApp Messenger: what does it cost, how can you block people and what extras are there?

What is WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is a chat service that allows you to exchange messages between iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. It is similar to SMS, but because you send messages via mobile Internet, it will not cost you any text messages. You need an iPhone with iOS 4.3 or Android with 2.1 at least to use WhatsApp. The app is not optimized for iPod touch and iPad. It won’t even work on the iPod touch and iPad because your WhatsApp account is linked to your mobile number. So you need a smartphone with phone functionality. This does not apply to alternatives like Telegram, which is also linked to your telephone, but also works on iPad and desktop. In December 2013, WhatsApp Messenger received a long-awaited update to iOS 7. Nevertheless, the appearance remained largely the same.

WhatsApp was acquired in early 2014 by Facebook. WhatsApp also received free call functionality in a recent update.

WhatsApp Messenger is available for free from the App Store and the Google Play Store.

?WhatsApp Messenger
?WhatsApp Messenger
Developer: WhatsApp Inc.
Price: Free
WhatsApp Messenger
WhatsApp Messenger
Developer: WhatsApp LLC
Price: Free

WhatsApp has the following features:

  • One-on-one conversations or group calls.
  • See if your message has been received and / or read.
  • Set your status so that other WhatsApp users see when you are available or busy.
  • Freely exchange pictures, videos and voice messages with each other.
  • Use smiley’s in messages.
  • iCloud backup your WhatsApp messages.
  • Send your location to friends so that you can meet on a certain spot.
  • Contact information sharing.
  • Change text size, through the general OS settings.
  • Free calls with other Whatsapp users.

With WhatsApp, you can exchange more than just text messages and recorded voice messages: you can also make calls. Pressing the call button in the app starts a conversation with other WhatsApp users. You don’t use the minutes of your call bundle, but your mobile internet connection. The app promises to be frugal with that: a phone call consumes about 500 Kilobyte per minute. Do you have an internet bundle of 100MB, then you can call in theory for about 200 minutes. WhatsApp call was made available in April 2015 for the iPhone and sometime earlier for Android.

Whatsapp calls iPhone
Phone calls with Whatsapp.

Facebook buys WhatsApp: no changes for user

On February 19, 2014 it was announced that the largest messaging service in the world and the largest social network where about to join forces. Facebook paid a total of $19 billion for WhatsApp. The majority ($12 billion) consists of shares and a further $4 billion in cash and $3 billion set aside capital. For users, nothing changed, promised CEO Jan Koum. WhatsApp remained independently alongside Facebook’s own Messenger application. According to Statista, WhatsApp has more than 800 million users, of which 70 percent are active every day. Every day another 1 million users join the service.

Differences with iMessage

whatsapp vs imessage
iMessage is only available for iOS and Mac OSX.

iMessage is the messaging service from Apple. The main difference with iMessage is that WhatsApp works on several platforms, while iMessage is limited to Apple’s iOS and OSX (Mac). The advantage of iMessage is that it is also optimized for iPhone and iPod touch and you can use one app for both SMS and iMessage. Apple released iMessage in iOS more on a par with WhatsApp. Thus includes group discussions, you can record sounds and send and share your location. Each of these features WhatsApp already offers.

Differences with SMS

With WhatsApp, you can take pictures, send videos and audio, without any extra cost. For SMS, this is much more expensive because it will be sent as an MMS message. In addition, with SMS you are often attached to a small bundle. With WhatsApp, you can send almost unlimited messages via your data bundle. Do you have a 1GB data bundle, you can send thousands of text messages via Whatsapp, without having to pay extra.

WhatsApp is free as long as you stay within your data plan. WhatsApp uses your Internet connection on your mobile (Wi-Fi or 3G). Sending messages via Wi-Fi is free, because it is subject to no data limit. Send your messages via the 3G network outdoors, this will cost data. The messages themselves are very small, but if you often send photos and videos you consume your data bundle faster. Sending messages abroad is also free, but do take into account roaming charges when you are abroad.

WhatsApp and privacy / security

Privacy is often discussed when talking about WhatsApp. In 2011, it appeared to be easily to intercept WhatsApp messages and mobile numbers. In September 2012, it became clear that message traffic of the app is easy to eavesdrop. In October 2013, a security expert discovered vulnerabilities in the encryption used by WhatsApp. After the acquisition by Facebook, this privacy issue has again become a topic of discussion. Also, there was quite a fuss about the use of the profile picture (link in German) you used in WhatsApp. In a series of public statements, Facebook and WhatsApp tried to improve the image of the service. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview that WhatsApp ‘remains cautious’ with data and, most recently, in a separate blog post WhatsApp again emphasized that users ‘privacy is guaranteed’.

WhatsApp in figures

With 800 million active monthly users worldwide, Whatsapp is a great player. But there are still many users to gain. If you put the monthly number of active users in a broader perspective, it shows a completely different picture. Services such as Qzone and QQ which are mainly popular in China are doing better. Also in other areas in Asia the social network has trouble gaining popularity. There are alternatives such as Line and WeChat, which are much more popular. The growth comes mainly from developing countries such as Brazil, India, Mexico and Russia. The messaging service hopes within a few years to grown to 1 to 2 billion users worldwide.

Controversy surrounding encryption

The messages that WhatsApp sends are encrypted in order to ensure user privacy. Encryption, however, came in early 2015 under pressure when several politicians, including the Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens, expressed the desire to allow wiretapping private messages from WhatsApp. This in connection with the fight against terrorism and the attacks in Paris. British Prime Minister David Cameron went so far as to say that he would like to ban services like WhatsApp if it is not possible to listen to them.

The encryption of WhatsApp is according to security researchers also not very strong. The app has end-to-end encryption, but only on Android phones. At the time, this powerful method of protection is not yet on the iPhone.

See also: Whatsapp login guide.

More info and tips about Whatsapp will follow soon.

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