The messaging system updated its privacy settings and who can pay for users’ subscriptions
Instant messaging system WhatsApp on Tuesday unveiled its first new update since its $19 billion acquisition by Facebook. The update includes new privacy settings that give users more control over who can see when they were last seen on the app and over who can see their profile picture and status. More interestingly, the update allows users to pay for their friends’ subscription for the site.
WhatsApp is free to download and for the first 12 months. A one year subscription after that costs $0.99; a two year subscription costs $2.67; and a five year subscription costs $3.71. It is unclear why WhatsApp introduced this feature, but one guess is so that users can stop their friends from using other messaging apps that do not cost money. Apps like Viber, KakaoTalk, and even Facebook’s ownmessaging system are all completely free. None of the other messaging apps, however, have close to as many users as WhatsApp, which has 465 million. Viber is the second most popular messaging app with 300 million users.
The update now allows you to choose whether everyone, your contacts, or nobody can see your profile or when you were last seen. (No more will people know when you’re ignoring them!)
It also adds a camera shortcut to a phone’s home screen for sending pictures faster. With this, if you want to send a picture over WhatsApp you can open that icon, shoot the picture and send it, instead of opening the app to the right conversation, taking and sending the picture.
The thumbnails for video clips are also larger and they increased the amount of messaging history that you can send. Furthermore, it includes an option for Androids to have the amount of unread messages shown on the home screen.
The update comes weeks after WhatsApp announced that it will be adding voice calling by the end of 2014.