WhatsApp is dropping its subscription fees to access the popular messaging service. WhatsApp introduced the fees a few years ago, forcing new users to pay an annual 99 cents subscription after the first year. “As we’ve grown, we’ve found that this approach hasn’t worked well,” admits WhatsApp in a company blog post today.
“Many WhatsApp users don’t have a debit or credit card number and they worried they’d lose access to their friends and family after their first year. So over the next several weeks, we’ll remove fees from the different versions of our app and WhatsApp will no longer charge you for our service.”
If you’ve been using WhatsApp for the six years it has been available then you’ve probably never experienced the subscription fees. Most original users were granted a free lifetime service, but in recent years the company introduced its subscription to new users. Recode reports that if you’ve already paid the 99 cents for the year then there won’t be a refund, but subscription fees will cease immediately.
WhatsApp now has nearly 1 billion users, so the free timing removes the barrier for millions more to join the messaging service. The Facebook-owned service plans appears to be planning to generate revenue through services to businesses. “We will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from.” That means you might be able to send WhatsApp messages to your bank or airlines in the future. WhatsApp isn’t planning to enable third-party ads within the service, and it’s sticking to its original principles. The founders of WhatsApp were strongly opposed to ads, noting back in 2012 that “when advertising is involved you the user are the product.”
Android users have been making free calls using their data connections over WhatsApp for weeks now but on Tuesday, the feature was finally made available to iPhone users.
A new version of WhatsApp is now available on the Apple App Store with the following description:
If you’ve already updated and are madly pecking around WhatsApp settings trying to call someone, though, hold up. WhatsApp Calling is rolling out slowly over the next several weeks, says the update description.
If you don’t see the WhatsApp Calling feature after the update, you have to ask an Android user to call you on WhatsApp, by that the feature will be enabled soon.
After one year of acquiring mobile messaging service WhatsApp, Facebook has begun testing a new feature in its ‘Facebook for Android’ app that includes the first major integration of WhatsApp.
The social networking site has added a ‘Send’ button with the familiar WhatsApp icon as a part of the status actions buttons that appear under each status update.
The new button appears on the right side (for left-to-right languages) for some users in the most recent version of the Facebook for Android app, the Geek Time reported.
This move appears to be the first step towards connecting the two platforms in order to sustain growth and take control of the messaging market together.
According to reports, teams are already working on a deeper integration that will include the ability to send messages between Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
WhatsApp, which last said it had 700 million monthly active users, and was acquired by Facebook for over $20 billion in February last year. Facebook Messenger now has 600 million monthly active users.
The much leaked Web interface for WhatsApp is now live. As you may have imagined, this allows you to use your computer to send and receive WhatsApp messages. But, true to this app’s very obvious “mobile first” mantra, the Web client is acting simply as an extension of your phone.
Thus, all the messages still actually live on your handset, they’re just shown to you on the Web as well. So your phone needs to be connected to the Internet while you’re using WhatsApp Web on your computer, keep that in mind.
To access the new functionality, you need to have the absolute latest version of WhatsApp for your platform installed on your mobile device. Then you can head to this address from your computer, where you’ll see a QR code. WhatsApp says you should use Chrome. Other browsers may work, but to be 100% sure you’ll need to go with Google’s offering for now.
The next step involves pairing the WhatsApp account on your phone to that computer. For this, you simply scan the QR code from within WhatsApp on your handset. This will be possible through a new Menu option, labeled WhatsApp Web.
Instructions for all mobile platforms are provided on the WhatsApp Web page. If you don’t have that option in the app on your mobile device yet, then either you’re not running the latest version or the company hasn’t enabled the new feature for your account. This seems to be a staged rollout of sorts, so if you’re in this situation a bit of patience will help.
WhatsApp Web is going to be available to you if you use the app on Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, or Nokia’s old S60 OS. Unfortunately the glaring omission in that list is iOS. WhatsApp says it can’t enable the Web client for people using iOS “due to Apple platform limitations”.