WhatsApp for iPhone updated with Chat notification, Videos Backup, Lower Data Usage and more!

WhatsApp-iPhone-6

Not to be outdone by rival Viber which rolled out animated stickers, location sharing, a brand new keypad and other enhancements in yesterday’s refresh, Facebook-owned WhatsApp today pushed a substantial update to its App Store application.

WhatsApp for iPhone now features richer notifications settings with per-chat rules and mute options, a new swipe gesture to mark chats as read or unread, the ability to directly share contacts from the Contacts app and locations from Apple Maps, backups for your videos and much more.

Other new features in this update include an enhanced interface when cropping photos and videos before adding them to a chat, friendlier features for hearing-impaired users with improved VoiceOver support and infinite scrolling with earlier messages loading automatically as you scroll chats.

Message swiping and muting

WhatsApp now features the familiar swiping gesture on the chat screen that you can use to reveal hidden options, like in Apple’s Mail and a number of other third-party apps.

For example, swiping in the chat list from left to right lets you mark a message as read. If a message has already been read, you will see the option to mark it as unread.

WhatsApp 2.12.5 for iOS iPhone screenshot 001

Swiping in the chat list from right to left lets you archive a message.

WhatsApp 2.12.5 for iOS iPhone screenshot 002

If you tap More, a menu pops up offering options to mute the conversation, bring up contact information, share the contents of your chat in an email message, clear the chat without deleting it from your history or delete the chat forever.

WhatsApp 2.12.5 for iOS iPhone screenshot 003

For those wondering, you can mute a chat for 8 hours, 1 week or 1 year.

Location sharing from Apple Maps

WhatsApp is now listed as an option in the Share sheet within Apple Maps.

This lets you quickly send your current location, or any point of interest for that matter, directly to WhatsApp without leaving Apple Maps. Just fire up Apple Maps on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, find a location (or drop a pin on the map) and tap the share icon in the upper right corner.

WhatsApp 2.12.5 for iOS iPhone screenshot 004

Now choose WhatsApp in the top row of icons, choose one or more WhatsApp contacts to share the location with and tap Send, as shown above. Which brings me to another new feature in WhatsApp 2.12.5: a larger map thumbnail in the chat window.

Here’s what it looks like.

WhatsApp 2.12.5 for iOS iPhone screenshot 005

As you can see, the Fifth Avenue location I just sent to myself from Apple Maps appears in the chat window as a larger map thumbnail. If I tap the embedded thumbnail, WhatsApp takes me to a full-screen map view like before.

Location sharing from Contacts app

In addition to native sharing to WhatsApp from Apple Maps, the same feature is now available in Apple’s stock Contacts app. As you may have suspected, this lets you quickly share specific contact data with a friend on WhatsApp right within the context of the Contacts app.

WhatsApp 2.12.5 for iOS iPhone screenshot 006

First, open Contacts on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad and tap on a contact. Scroll down in the contact view screen until you see the Share Contact option. Tap it, choose WhatsApp in the top row of icons, select your recipient and you’ll be taken to a new screen to cherry-pick which contact information you’d like to share.

In the example above, I’m sharing Apple, Inc’s work address and its homepage with myself. Depending on specific contact information shared, WhatsApp will provide additional options in the chat window. In the example above, I can tap on the received Apple Inc. contact card to reveal the homepage and work address I shared with myself.

WhatsApp 2.12.5 for iOS iPhone screenshot 007

But if send more contact information from Contacts to WhatsApp like phone number, the embedded contact card in WhatsApp’s chat window will provide buttons to immediately message the contact, save the card as a new contact on my iPhone or add information to one of the existing contacts on my device.

WhatsApp 2.12.5 for iOS iPhone screenshot 008

Lower data consumption

Viber’s most recent update brought out a more efficient data compression and WhatsApp follows suit. Just tap on the Settings icon alongside the bottom of the WhatsApp interface to bring up in-app settings. Now tap on Chats and Calls and then flip the Low Data Usage switch to ON.

WhatsApp 2.12.5 for iOS iPhone screenshot 009

WhatsApp says enabling the feature “further lowers the amount of data used during a WhatsApp call,” but stops short of saying how many kilobytes are saved during a call with this enabled. Viber, for instance, said its new data compression allows the app to burn just 84 kilobytes per minute to make an audio call on a 2G connection.

WhatsApp’s option that lowers data usage will be of particular importance to users in emerging markets and developing countries who either purchase data on the go in 100-megabyte buckets or their monthly cellular data allowance is below one gigabyte.

Video backups

I like WhatsApp’s built-in backup system that periodically saves my chats and media in the cloud. It gives me a piece of mind knowing that I can restore my chat history on another device in just a few seconds.

WhatsApp 2.12.5 for iOS iPhone screenshot 010

Now in WhatsApp 2.12.5, you can at last tell the app to back up videos, too.

To enable video backups, visit the Chats and Calls section in WhatsApp settings, tap on Chat Backup and flip the Include Videos switch to the ON position.

WhatsApp stores your backups in iCloud so it may be a good idea to perform a backup while on Wi-Fi or disable cellular data for iCloud if you really must back up a WhatsApp archive on a cellular connection.

WhatsApp 2.12.5 changelog

The following new features and enhancements are listed in the changelog:

  • Per chat custom notification settings and mute
  • You can now include videos in your chat backups in Settings > Chats and Calls > Chat Backup
  • Mark chats as unread or read with a swipe to the right
  • Better support for VoiceOver
  • Directly share contacts from the Contacts app and locations from Apple Maps to WhatsApp
  • Lower the data usage used during WhatsApp calls in Settings > Chats and Calls
  • Earlier messages now load automatically as you scroll chats
  • Improved design for cropping photos and videos
  • Location messages now use a large map thumbnail

WhatsApp is the leading mobile messaging platform with more than 800 million active monthly users versus Viber’s installed base of 500 million active users.

WhatsApp availability

The 46-megabyte application requires an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad with iOS 6.0 or later. WhatsApp is optimized for native display resolution on the iPhone 5/5c/5c, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but continues to lack an iPad-optimized interface and a WatchKit component for your wrist.

Source

WhatsApp reaches 500 Million users!

Whatsapp & Facebook

Popular IM service WhatsApp has reached the 500 million users milestone. And it’s not just the total number of users the service has but active users who use the service regularly.

This comes shortly after the company was acquired by Facebook, although WhatsApp had a healthy 450 million users at the time of acquisition. The majority of the growth comes from countries like Brazil, India, Mexico, and Russia, with India alone having 48 million WhatsApp users.

Whatsapp

One of the reason the service is so popular in developing nations is sheer number of platforms the service is available on, which includes iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Symbian and S40, unlike many other services that are only available on iOS and Android.

The service has remained unaltered since the Facebook acquisition and is expected to remain that way.

And the World’s Most Admired Company in 2014 Is…

Apple-30-years-of-Mac-Apple-Stores-window-displays

For the seventh straight year, Apple has been named the World’s Most Admired Company by a jury of its peers in Fortune. Despite a rocky year which saw the tech giant’s stock jump and fall and a sometimes-hot, sometimes-cold public battle with billionaire investor Carl Icahn, Apple is still the envy of the corporate world’s eye.

From Fortune’s ranking:

Top 50 rank: 1
Rank in Computers: 1
(Previous rank: 1)
Overall score: 7.94

Why it’s admired:
The iconic tech company known for the iPhone and other stylish and user-friendly products is back in the top spot on this year’s list, for the seventh year in a row. Apple, the most valuable brand on the planet according to Interbrand, brought in $171 billion in revenues in FY2013 and is flush with cash, but fan boys and girls (not to mention the market) are getting antsy to see its next big product. Bets are on a smartwatch or AppleTV, but the company is also reportedly turning its attention to cars and medical devices.

Facebook-Paper-teaser-002

Amazon and Google were No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, having switched places from their 2013′s rankings. Among the other tech companies in Fortune’s top-50 “all star” list: IBM at No. 16, Samsung at No. 21, Microsoft at No. 24, and Facebook at No. 38. The full list of most-admired companies and a description of the methodology used to choose them are available here and in the issue of Fortune that comes out today.

Facebook is buying WhatsApp for $19 billion!

Facebook has announced this afternoon that it has reached a deal to acquire WhatsApp, the makers of the popular cross-platform messaging app, for a staggering $16 billion. That’s $4 billion in cash and approximately $12 billion in Facebook shares.

The social network says that WhatsApp will continue to operate independently after the acquisition, but claims the deal with WhatsApp—who has nearly 500 million users—”accelerates Facebook’s ability to bring connectivity and utility to the world.”

From the press release:

“Facebook today announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire WhatsApp, a rapidly growing cross-platform mobile messaging company, for a total of approximately $16 billion, including $4 billion in cash and approximately $12 billion worth of Facebook shares. The agreement also provides for an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units to be granted to WhatsApp’s founders and employees that will vest over four years subsequent to closing.

The acquisition supports Facebook and WhatsApp’s shared mission to bring more connectivity and utility to the world by delivering core internet services efficiently and affordably. The combination will help accelerate growth and user engagement across both companies. 

“WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. “I’ve known Jan for a long time and I’m excited to partner with him and his team to make the world more open and connected.”

The company also provided some WhatsApp growth stats:

  • Over 450 million people using the service each month;
  • 70% of those people active on a given day;
  • Messaging volume approaching the entire global telecom SMS volume; and
  • Continued strong growth, currently adding more than 1 million new registered users per day.

Additionally, Facebook says that it will be paying WhatsApp a $1 billion break-up fee if the acquisition some how falls through, and it will be hosting a conference call at 3PM PST today to discuss further details. You can listen in on that call by clicking here.

Admittedly, $16 billion (potentially $19 billion) sounds like a crazy amount for a messaging app—especially compared to the $3 billion that Facebook reportedly offered Snapchat last year. But not many services boast an active user base of half-a-billion.

It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this. If you want to see what WhatsApp is all about, you can find it in the App Store here.

Talking Tom Cat apps are bigger than Twitter!

Earlier this month, Twitter revealed that it now has 184m monthly active mobile users. That puts it 46m behind the antics of a cartoon cat and his animal friends.

App developer Outfit7 says its Talking Tom and Friends apps now have 230m monthly active users across iOS, Android and Windows Phone. The apps have been downloaded more than 1.5bn times since the launch of the first, Talking Tom Cat, in June 2010.

The company says its monthly active user count is up 35% in the last four months, which is likely due to the release in November 2013 of My Talking Tom, a free-to-play game starring the squeaky feline character. That game was downloaded 27m times in its first month on the app stores.

Outfit7 has released 14 of the apps, recently rebranding the series from Talking Friends to Talking Tom and Friends, to reflect the popularity of its main character. The series reached 100m downloads in April 2011,360m by March 2012, and 1bn by June 2013, at which point the apps had 170m monthly active users.

The developer has also followed a similar strategy to other character-based mobile game hits like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope by expanding into toys and online video. Outfit7 worked with Disney on a series of 12 Talking Friends videos that have been watched more than 408m times on YouTube, including 151m times alone for music video You Get Me.

“Talking Tom and Friends is one of the only global brands to achieve download billionaire status, while also being strong in both entertainment and games,” said Outfit7 chief operating officer Alessandro Traverso in a statement, following the new milestones. “The development of our TV series demonstrates the global appetite for a property that is, at its core, true interactive entertainment.”

The company’s apps have courted controversy in their rise to success, however. In October 2012, ads for payday lender Wonga were found in the Talking Ginger app, while in February 2013, an ad promoting a contest to win an iPad led users to a £4-a-week mobile content subscription service.

Meanwhile, My Talking Tom upped the ante on Outfit7’s use of in-app purchases, selling virtual coins in quantities worth up to £69.99 at a time. The Talking Tom and Friends apps aren’t just for kids, but they have a massive audience of children – the key target for the company’s video and merchandise activities.

“There are a lot of things changing from the legal perspective, in the US and EU, and our plans are to be the leaders and not the followers in terms of implementing all the changes requested by COPPA and the EU,”chief executive Samo Login told The Guardian last year.

“We will be one of the first companies that will be prepared for that, because we believe we should be an example. We have a huge user-base among kids, and we can’t afford to take that lightly.”