WhatsApp about to steal some of Snapchat’s ideas

4 Nov 2016

WhatsApp. Image: HStocks/Shutterstock

WhatsApp is testing its own variation of Snapchat’s Snaps feature, with users’ Status bars soon to host expiring content.

The attack on Snapchat’s surprising rise to social media power is ratcheting up a notch; as Facebook’s WhatsApp follows Instagram’s lead, planning for its new Status tool to host content.

Having already included video-calling capabilities in beta to one of the world’s most popular instant messaging tools, WhatsApp’s latest trick is a souped-up status bar, filled with content that can be viewed for a short time period.


The new Status tab will coexist with the old version in WhatsApp’s settings menu, hinting strongly at Facebook’s ‘Messenger Day’ and Instagram’s ‘Stories’.

WhatsApp’s new Status feature will, when it’s fully released, let people share multiple updates in a day. Those interested in testing it out need the latest public beta update of the app – so users need a jailbroken smartphone to mess around with it.

It seems the lifespan of these status updates will be 24 hours and can be shared with every contact on your WhatsApp, or just with select people.

Last month, WhatsApp added a series of new camera features to its offering. Image-sketching, flash-supported front-facing photography and a zoom feature on videos were all part of the roll-out.

Facebook recently ranked highly on Amnesty International’s encryption and personal protection scorecard.

Facebook was named the best company of those investigated, with Amnesty highlighting WhatsApp as a particularly positive tool, noting it as the “only app where users are explicitly warned when end-to-end encryption is not applied to a particular chat”.

Snapchat, interestingly, was way down.

It’s not all positivity for WhatsApp in 2016, though.

Two years ago, Facebook spent big, buying WhatsApp for $19bn. At the time, people feared there would be major changes to the latter’s clean, easy and fast service. However, very little changed.

That was until recently, with WhatsApp announcing a suite of changes to its user and privacy policy terms. The major difference? Syncing up with users’ Facebook accounts, and ads.

For 1bn users around the world, this seemed to herald a bit of trouble. However, the camera changes and shift towards a Snapchat model may be enough to appease most people.

WhatsApp. Image: HStocks/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic