WhatsApp is a very popular messaging platform. It has over 1.5 billion monthly active users and it is estimated that 12 million Kenyans actively use it monthly.
There are reasons why it became popular. It was available on feature phones and smartphones which was huge. It also came at a time when texting was expensive so using WhatsApp to chat with friends and family was cheaper over time.
Despite its popularity, I’ve always found it annoying to use WhatsApp because it always feels so dated. My biggest problem of all has to do with how it stores chats and texts, which is so last decade.
WhatsApp usually saves your texts and media onto the phone’s mass storage. This means if you end up losing your phone, all of your precious convesations or shared media will be gone forever.
This has happened to me before. I started using WhatsApp in 2012 and after losing that phone, I lost all of my precious conversations and media. I was not able to make cloud backups back then and it was a pain.
The obvious solution was for WhatsApp to fully embrace the cloud but they did not do as I expected. In 2015, WhatsApp annoucned that we ill be able to make private backups of our chat history and media to our Google Drive accounts. This was a workaround to the main problem, which is that WhatsApp has failed to be cloud first instead of being phone first.
The addition of Google Drive backup was a relief at the time because it finally allowed us to save our text messages and media on our Google Drives. However, this has its own shortcomings: Google Drive storage is limited for most people (15GB for the free tier) and if you skip the restore process, your content is lost.
We are in a new decade and yet WhatsApp feels like it is still stuck in 2009. If they find a way of migrating our data into an entirely cloud based platform like Telegram, it would sufficiently improve the user experience in a number of ways:
- We will never lose our content since they are all stored in the cloud.
- Our Google accounts will be spared with the mounting WhatsApp backups.
- We would be able to use WhatsApp on the web without needing to tether out phones.
It made sense as to why WhatsApp would have shyed away from introducing a cloud platorm. The cost would have been astronomical and at the time, a majority were not paying for the service.
However, Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 and now they have the opportunity to leverage on the company’s resources to have their own cloud platform. It is surprising that they have not come up with this yet, 6 years down the line and I’d wish they would implement this in the new decade.
2020 is also a very interesting year for WhatsApp. This is the year they confirmed that we will start seeing Status Ads. This means that they will start getting their money’s worth for WhatsApp and maybe, some of the money will be used to fund their WhatsApp Cloud (I hope).