Whats Up with Facebook and WhatsApp?

With the recent announcement of the purchase of WhatsApp by Facebook I figured I’d give a run down of what WhatsApp is and how I’ve been using it for the last few years. I’ll add in a few things I hope Facebook does with it and a few that I hope they don’t do.
Whats Up with Facebook and WhatsApp?

Whats Up with Facebook and WhatsApp?

My Introduction to WhatsApp

For the last three years a group of five friends of mine have been using WhatsApp to communicate with each other in group chats. Years prior we all had been using BBM to chat in groups over data networks but now we were splintered on iOS, Blackberry, and Android (in the last year everyone has moved off of Blackberry). When looking for a way to keep our group chats going we found the useful app WhatsApp. At it’s core it is a cross platform messaging application that allows for individual or group chats that go out over data networks and not utilize the all valuable “text messages”. I personally love that the messages go out over the data network as I’m sometimes in places where there is no cellular service (seriously, I know) yet I do have wifi therefore I can still “text” with friends.

WhatsApp vs. iMessage

To this day we continue to use WhatsApp even though almost everyone in the group is on iOS and could use iMessage. The main reason we continue to use WhatsApp is because of the one Android holdout but even still, if everyone was on iOS, I believe we would continue to use WhatsApp. WhatsApp has a much better user experience for group chatting then iMessage does. The interface for group chats displays more like an inbox with a “name” for the group chat which is really helpful in identifying which chat you are in at any given time as opposed to the way iMessage does it with just displaying people’s names separated by a comma. If there are more than two people in the conversation then you aren’t exactly sure which group you are in; this is why I prefer WhatsApp to iMessage for group messaging.

Facebook Messenger Fail?

Facebook tried a few years back to revamp their messaging platform and even released a standalone messaging application that seamlessly integrated with the core service. In my opinion it has fallen flat and obviously hasn’t taken off the way that Facebook would have wanted. Why else would Facebook spend a reported $19 billion on a messaging platform? So what can Facebook bring to the table to make WhatsApp better? I actually hope that they do nothing to the application itself aside from bring more users onto the messaging service. The other thing they could do is make the application work on the iPad, hopefully Facebook can use it’s sheer size to get Apple to allow the application to be installed on the iPad. Aside from that, I’d like for Facebook to leave well enough alone. Don’t integrate it into Facebook, don’t require a Facebook login to use the app, and don’t mix my contacts up inside of WhatsApp with my Facebook friends unless I explicitly allow it.

Why WhatsApp?

To me Facebook just spent a whole lot of money on a feature that they already had built years ago. Clearly they are covering gaps with user adoption with this purchase. Messaging is a huge play on the mobile device and Facebook messenger wasn’t even an option for me. I have been using SMS, iMessage, and WhatsApp for years and don’t even think of Facebook messenger. WIth this purchase, I can still not think about Facebook messenger but I will be using a Facebook product for messaging and I think that’s the way Facebook wants it.

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