When a rival app-maker comes up with a popular feature the easiest response is to copy it — at least this is what Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp has done.
As rumored earlier, WhatsApp on Tuesday announced an overhaul of it “status” tab that replaces text-based messages with a clone of Snapchat’s popular “Stories” feature.
WhatsApp’s rolled out the update for its billion-plus users on Tuesday on Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone.
Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp are all selling you to be able to sell to you
Status can now be posted using the in-app camera. A user can take a photo or video and overlay it with text, sketches or emojis, or all of them.
The status update can be viewed for 24 hours after which, like in Snapchat, it will automatically expire.
Another Snapchat-like feature is the “seen by” counter.
This is not the first time a Facebook property has cloned a Snapchat “stories” feature. Instagram did it in August, a month later Facebook Messenger did some copying, too. And in January, Facebook added the “stories” feature, which is being beta tested and available to limited users. Ditto for Facebook Messenger.
The addition of this feature on WhatsApp appears to represent a shift – it will for the first time allow users to scroll through content shared publically by their contacts.
WhatsApp, the world’s largest messaging app, till now has been a direct messaging platform.
A report on Forbes suggested it may be an attempt by Facebook to monetise WhatsApp.
“Status will change that use case for the first time. It also potentially opens the door to messages from businesses, or rather, advertisers. WhatsApp said more than a year ago that it was looking at ways that businesses could send messages to its users in an unobtrusive and useful way,” the report said on Tuesday.
“Facebook has been able to rake billions in revenue each quarter from advertisers precisely because it can insert their videos and photos into its content-heavy Newsfeed,” the report added.