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article imageWhatsApp Status is Facebook's latest attempt to become Snapchat

By James Walker     Feb 22, 2017 in Technology
WhatsApp has launched a major new feature that lets you share disappearing photos with your friends and family. Clearly designed to take on rival Snapchat, Status is unique among implementations of the "Stories" concept as it uses full message encryption.
The feature has been in development and beta testing for several months. It shows up as a new tab in WhatsApp's app. Tapping on a status loops through new updates in a carousel, displaying each message for a few seconds. Messages disappear once they've been published for more than 24 hours.
It's yet another shameless copy of Snapchat Stories, representing parent company Facebook's commitment to slow the growth of the hugely popular app. However, WhatsApp said the concept behind Status has been around for much longer than Stories. It's an evolution of WhatsApp's original mission, letting you share your current activities with your friends.
The company explained that the first versions of WhatsApp only let you post simple status messages. It was several months later that chat threads and peer-to-peer messaging were added, now WhatsApp's most used functionality. With today's update, Status has progressed far beyond simple messages, but it's still based on the idea of letting you broadcast what you're up to.
WhatsApp Status
WhatsApp Status
WhatsApp
"We are excited to announce that, coinciding with WhatsApp's 8th birthday on February 24, we are reinventing the status feature," said WhatsApp. "Starting today, we are rolling out an update to status, which allows you to share photos and videos with your friends and contacts on WhatsApp in an easy and secure way."
While Status is almost entirely derived from Snapchat's Stories implementation, WhatsApp has added one unique capability that could win over many users. It supports end-to-end encryption of Status posts, letting you securely share your life without having to worry about privacy.
Status is also backed by the rest of WhatsApp's communication features, including text chats and voice and video calls. Compared with Snapchat's purely ephemeral, in-the-moment nature, WhatsApp is a more complete solution. With Status added to its existing capabilities, it can handle all forms of communication, from simple snapshots of your day to confidential video calls about sensitive information.
First WhatsApp Status version
First WhatsApp Status version
WhatsApp
Besides expanding the app's functionality, Status could also let Facebook make more revenue from WhatsApp. The company displays full-screen advertisements in-between Story posts on Instagram. It could also extend advertising into WhatsApp, giving it another sustainable revenue stream.
With over 1.2 billion monthly active users to tap into, Status could be a big money-maker for Facebook. The huge number of people already using the platform also gives Status a chance to upset Snapchat's growth ahead of its impending IPO. Facebook is clearly unleashing all its resources to regain users who have made the switch to its upstart rival.
WhatsApp Status is rolling out now across all supported platforms. If your device hasn't received it yet, you can install the update from the App Store, Google Play Store or the Windows Store.
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