WhatsApp is an incredibly popular instant messaging app and it has now over 1.3 billion users worldwide. Facebook saw its potential and bought the platform for $19 billion in 2014, which is still the company’s biggest acquisition to date.
WhatsApp was developed at a time when people used to communicate heavily via phone calls and sending SMS. We are now in an age where these can be done on WhatsApp and other messaging services. However, WhatsApp has been struggling to keep up with other messaging services that have been piling in features that make it now look like a dinosaur. I believe that if WhatsApp adds the following features, they will compete favourably in this intense industry while also attract users who are loyal to other messaging services.
WhatsApp is already past due when it comes to being entirely cloud based. When WhatsApp was launched 8 years ago, it was at a time when a small segment of the population had smartphones and cloud storage was not as extensive as it is right now. In 2017, smartphones and cloud storage are the norm and you can rent cloud storage from the likes of Google, Microsoft or Amazon easily from the web.
The messaging app is still entirely based on your phone: Your chats and media are stored in your phone. You can backup your contacts and media to Google Drive, but I’d like WhatsApp to adopt what Telegram Messenger is doing.
If WhatsApp adopts Telegram Messenger’s system of being entirely based on the cloud, it will bring such benefits like:
- Not losing your chat files when you lose your phone or format since everything is based on the cloud.
- An independent desktop app which does not need to be connected entirely to your phone.
- Disappearing media like what we have on Telegram Messenger and Snapchat.
There are two main gripes with WhatsApp groups: Member addition and contact information being shared.
WhatsApp Groups are incredibly popular and there are over a billion groups on the messaging platform. However, you find that sometimes you are added to a random group that you’re not interested in. In addition, if you are added in a WhatsApp group with strangers, you tend to see the phone numbers of the other people, which means they probably see yours.
WhatsApp has to fix this mess in the groups by giving a notification where you can either opt in or opt out from being added to a group and hiding your contact information by adding an avatar instead (like how Telegram does it).
WhatsApp only allows you to have a group with a maximum of 256 members. In some cases, this is not enough when you want to talk to a larger audience and it would require WhatsApp to give their users channels so that people can share content with a larger audience. Telegram does this quite effectively and some dedicated Kenyan Channels have thousands of members and would be bigger if WhatsApp allowed people to create such communities.
We tend to share links to our friends and acquaintances via messaging apps and unlike other apps, WhatsApp does not have an in-app browser. In-app browsers prevent the need to fire up a dedicated browser app when you click a link and it can be a great addition to WhatsApp.
WhatsApp says that their app is pretty secure but in some cases, you would want an entire secure chatting system. The company can borrow what Telegram does with Secret Chats.
In Telegram, messages in secret chats cannot be forwarded to other people and they have self-destruct timers that you set which delete the messages and media shared between the parties. If you take a screenshot, you will be notified and the entire chat is encrypted end-to-end.
WhatsApp should have that option to allow people that would want to communicate in a scenario where they don’t want to leave a trace of the conversation.