WhatsApp, the most popular messaging service in South Africa, is getting an extensive list of changes – including an adjustment to its official name.
It was reported that Facebook – the owner of WhatsApp – will change the official name of the messaging service from “WhatsApp” to “WhatsApp from Facebook.”
The same will happen to Instagram, which will now be called “Instagram from Facebook.”
This move is not without its controversy. This is because the founders of both of these apps are no longer involved in these applications, with Facebook having purchased both of these platforms once they had already become popular.
Some would argue that saying that these apps are “from Facebook” therefore misrepresents the origins of the respective services.
When asked why the company had made this change, a spokesperson said: “We want to be clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook.”
There are many other changes on the way for WhatsApp users, most of which are set to improve the user experience.
Adverts and business catalogues
Facebook has announced that it will begin showing adverts on WhatsApp’s status page from the beginning of 2020.
These status advertisements will be used to increase the money Facebook can make from the messaging app, and are expected to function similarly to the adverts found in Instagram’s Stories.
Facebook also plans to integrate a business catalogue feature into WhatsApp to allow users to browse products.
This feature will be available in chats between customers and WhatsApp-registered businesses and is being worked on as part of a general redesign for the platform.
Facebook has announced the launch of its Calibra cryptocurrency wallet, which will be available in WhatsApp as well as in Messenger and as a standalone app, in 2020.
“The first product Calibra will introduce is a digital wallet for Libra, a new global currency powered by blockchain technology,” Facebook said.
“From the beginning, Calibra will let you send Libra to almost anyone with a smartphone, as easily and instantly as you might send a text message and at low to no cost.”
“In time, we hope to offer additional services for people and businesses, like paying bills with the push of a button, buying a cup of coffee with the scan of a code or riding your local public transit without needing to carry cash or a metro pass.”
Facebook said Calibra will offer strong security measures to ensure that user funds are protected, and dedicated live support will also be available.
It was also reported that WhatsApp is working on a system that will allow users to access one WhatsApp account across multiple devices at the same time.
This will allow users to use their WhatsApp accounts on iOS and Android devices simultaneously, as well as through an upcoming standalone WhatsApp app for desktop that will not require your phone to be connected to the internet (as is the case with WhatsApp Web).
The multi-device support system is reportedly still under development, and there is no estimated launch date.
“Note that this is also the reason why WhatsApp for iPad was not released yet, even though it’s ready,” WABetaInfo stated.
Facebook and QR code integration
Facebook is working on a feature that will let WhatsApp users share their status updates to their Facebook profiles – much like Instagram posts.
Users who have the Facebook app on their devices and who post status updates on WhatsApp will be shown an “Add to Facebook Story” option.
This feature will not automatically post your status to Facebook, and will instead require manual authorisation.
WhatsApp users will also reportedly be able to share contact details with other users through in-app QR codes.
These features are currently under development for both the Android and iOS versions of WhatsApp.
WWhatsApp plans on enabling a media editing feature at some point in its next few updates.
This will allow users to edit media they have either sent or received from within the WhatsApp app.
To do this, users will need to choose an “edit” option when they have opened media from within a chat, which will redirect the user to the image editing screen.
The edited image will not replace the original version, but will instead create a duplicate.
The feature will be available on both Android and iOS.
A feature has recently been enabled that allows Android phone users to read and reply to WhatsApp messages by using voice commands.
This is done by saying “read my messages” to Google’s Assistant.
This is in line with recent trends towards smart assistants as common means of consuming content and performing digital tasks.