Friday, May 8, 2015

Hi, this is WhatsApp. Who’s this?

Nearing 5,000,000,000 installations and 28,000,000 ratings across the web of Android, it has facilitated for us, the first-of-its-kind offering of the basic instinct of human- to communicate. This Android app has brought a revolution in 2009 among Android users across all age-groups which compelled them to send text messages free, by usage of a bare minimum mobile data of 0.028 Kb. Since then, down the memory lane of 6 years, this application has governed the world of Instant Messaging in an all-encompassing aura. March, 2015 has crowned it with an approximate 700 million users online devoting almost 47% of their day’s time to fiddle with, putting back all its trailing competitors such as Skype, Hike, WeChat, Line, QQ Mobile and Viber. You guessed it right, the hubbub is all about “WhatsApp”, the undisputed king of the IM world.

Besides being the most responsive app for communication, WhatsApp runs even on weak 2G mobile signals. Topping the charts at 69% market penetration in India, WhatsApp was recently acquired by Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook at a whopping US $16 billion deal. WhatsApp now caters to 7 different platforms including iOS, Android, Blackberry, Symbian, Windows Phone, Series 40 of Nokia and Tizen.

Following a recent rumor of WhatsApp offering free service to its existing customers, the curtailing of annual upgradation price of $0.99 for one, $2.67 for two and $3.71 years is still a mystery as WhatsApp still automatically offers a free service extension, much to the happiness and satisfaction for all its users. WhatsApp uses an open standard XMPP which creates the user account just by his or her SIM number and tagging the contact list for communication from the address book or contact-list of the device. There has been multiple workarounds and fixes by the development team of California-based WhatsApp, which now allows it to use in Dual-SIM devices as well. A user can have multiple WhatsApp accounts but only one account can be linked to one SIM number. A buffer of 30 days is provided by the WhatsApp server wherein the message (colloquially termed as “ping”) from the sender is stored, before the message gets deleted if the receiver does not or cannot receive the sent message either due to service expiration or due to poor network coverage overmuch.

One of the top-grossing app in Android, WhatsApp ensures maximum lasting security to its users using the TextSecure encryption which keeps hacks and other intrusions at bay. The popularity of WhatsApp has called for dramatic events an ample number of times. A new judicial rule was brought up in UAE by which swearing in WhatsApp could impose the person a fine of US $68,000 under cybercrime. On another note, an event led to leaking of the question paper for annual examination of First year, B.Com of School of Open Learning, Delhi University. Though a handful of events, but they are alarming enough of the cons WhatsApp could bring if the perpetrator chooses to exploit a chance.

WhatsApp, apart from sending text pings to other users in the Address Book of the device, also allows to send multimedia files. Unlike Hike Messenger which allows large files as well as files with .exe extensions to be shared across the IM, WhatsApp has restricted users to send and share Audio, Video, Image files and Contacts through the attachment window. It also allows the users to change the background of the home-screen and choose a status just as Google Talk, which is displayed every time another user views his or her WhatsApp profile. It provides an easy way for senders of messages to know when a particular ping is delivered from his device, received by the receiver’s device and seen by him or her. It uses denotations of a single tick, double tick in gray and a double tick in blue respectively, for the sender to know them. 2013 saw a wide range of piracy in cyber world releasing copies and versions of WhatsApp which allowed the users to mask the “last seen” notifications, notifications about being online and even changing the color or basic WhatsApp logo, homescreen and messages and font of all text pings and menu options. The pirated version was popularly known as WhatsApp plus. WhatsApp took the issue aggressively and detected and banned those SIM numbers on which the pirated versions of WhatsApp were registered. The logo of WhatsApp Plus turned the green color in genuine WhatsApp logo to black.

In a recent introduction of feature in WhatsApp at the onset of 2015, VoIP or Internet calling was rolled out to all its users. They can now make a call to another WhatsApp user over the Internet using either the Mobile Internet (2G, 3G or 4G) or the Wi-Fi. This feature was mainly introduced to compete with Skype and Viber for the offerings they provide. But on the downside, WhatsApp uses approximately 1.3 Mb of Internet data vis-à-vis 240 Kb for Viber, per minute in making a VoIP call to any contact in your Address Book. Through this route of calculation, over a normal 500 MB 3G monthly data plan for instance, WhatsApp VoIP would eat that up entirely in just a matter of six hours, which otherwise accounts for 11-minute voice calls per day in a standard calling plan. Users are hopeful and anticipating a fast version upgrade to sort this out as they do not want to switch over to another app just for voice calls voids them off their pockets.WhatsApp also recently shelled the feature to use its service on personal computers. What the users need to avail this service is to travel to the settings in WhatsApp in the device its currently installed, select the “WhatsApp Web” option, scan the QR code that comes in the webpage and wait for a couple of seconds depending on the connection speed, to load up the entirety of his account onto his or her PC!

Since the Paleolithic Age, when the ancestral beings started the basic survival instinct for “communication” till now in our Modern era, the most advanced breakthrough among them all, will remain the creation and development of WhatsApp. It caters for mass of all economic form of living standards as WhatsApp also caters to budget multimedia phones like S40 which uses a MD5-hashed mechanism for the lower end devices as well as top-notch innovations like the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and akin. Even the Traffic Police in India have started making WhatsApp groups for service inspectors across a State or a District to help monitor the cities in better ways by improved method of departments’ intra-communication. Noida’s WhatsApp Helpline number fetches the Police Department remarkably 5,300 messages in an average of 15 days a month.

Thanks Jan Koum, for instigating the property of communication among the youth in the world- a cyber sensation in itself. As predictive economics says, sooner or later, WhatsApp together with Facebook is going to surpass more than 80% of world traffic for communication. All hail, WhatsApp!