I have never used Snapchat but everybody is saying Facebook has been adding almost all the Snapchat features to WhatsApp and Instagram. The recent edition is the Status update.
It is this thing I know about Snapchat: when you post an update, the update is gone, it disappears, after 24 hours or after some time. The same feature is coming to WhatsApp now. You post a status in the form of an image, a text message or a video – a video cannot be more than 10 seconds – and the Status is updated. It remains there for 24 hours and then it is deleted/removed.
Now that people can post Status updates in WhatsApp, will it kill Snapchat? Not necessarily. Unless there is a big problem in an instant messaging app, people don’t switch just for the sake of switching. There is a dedicated user base of WhatsApp and there is also a dedicated user base in Snapchat. As I have seen on my daughter’s phone, there are many groovy features in Snapchat that are not available in WhatsApp. Up till now WhatsApp has just been a simple text messaging and sometimes video and image messaging app. There is nothing much you can do with the media.
Snapchat on the other hand has many tools that allow you to modify images and videos. My daughter keeps on switching faces in the videos and images she creates in Snapchat.
Switching an instant messaging app, especially the one you have been using for months and years, can be an arduous task. Over this period you may have added many contacts. If you switch your app, all your contacts have to switch en masse, or you have to build your contact list from scratch.
Once your mobile phone has received the new version of WhatsApp, the Status column or tab will be automatically visible to you. You don’t have to do anything. If yet you cannot see the Status tab it means your WhatsApp hasn’t yet updated, which it should in a couple of days, as the update is being rolled out.
The visibility of your WhatsApp Status
It’s up to you who can see your WhatsApp status once you have posted it, just the way it happens in Snapchat, Instagram and even the usual Facebook.
As you can see in the image, you can decide if your Status is visible to
- Your contacts
- Your contacts except… (all contacts but not your parents, for example)
- With selected contacts
WhatsApp will tell you how many people have viewed your Status.
Is WhatsApp turning into a content consumption platform from being an instant messaging app with this Status update?
This Forbes link says that this new WhatsApp update is a turning point. Usually WhatsApp is all about sending and receiving messages whether they consist of text, image or video. At the most you can send messages to a group containing hundreds of contacts.
With the recent Status update, WhatsApp can turn into a content consumption platform, just like Facebook. In Facebook, as long as people are following you and have befriended you, they can see your Status updates. They don’t have to respond and they don’t have to interact with you. You can use Facebook as your publishing platform and they can simply consume your content.
The big difference is the content that you post on your WhatsApp Status updates will disappear in 24 hours. So, it will have a sense of urgency.
Somehow it also indicates that Facebook understands that younger audience is leaving Facebook and using instant messaging apps like Snapchat more and more. This is why the company has been adding Snapchat-like features and Instagram and WhatsApp. In a mobile-first world, Facebook sometimes feels crammy.
With the new WhatsApp Status update, WhatsApp may turn into another Facebook because if people are posting their status updates on WhatsApp, what’s the need to duplicate the effort on Facebook?