Wednesday 7 August 2013

WhatsApp gets voice messaging as it hits 300 million monthly users

It looks like WhatsApp has finally woken up to the threat that cross-platform messaging apps originating from Asia might end its monopoly in the market. The messaging giant has announced that it is finally adding the ability to send voice messages from its applications.

The company also told AllThingsD that it had finally breached the 300 million monthly active users mark and that the application had more than 20 million active users each in Germany, Mexico and Spain. India too is ranked on the list of countries with the highest number of monthly active users on WhatsApp. To coincide with this occasion, WhatsApp has released a small update that lets you send short voice messages to your friends instead of typing long-winding texts out. The feature is rolling out slowly to all of WhatsApp’s applications on iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia..

The push-to-talk feature will now show up as a small microphone icon next to the message field. Keeping the icon 'pushed' will record a voice message and send it across to your friend. The feature has been crafted keeping in mind how something of this sort is used. There is no cap over the length of your message – you can record a really long message and it will go through. The volume on the message self-adjusts too. When you take your phone closer to your ear, the volume will decrease while if you hold it at an arm’s length it will increase.

The best part about this push-to-talk feature on WhatsApp is that you will know when your message has been played, much like the delivery and read reports for text messages. While one of the most requested features on WhatsApp has been the ability to find out when your message has been read, as opposed to received, this feature has made its way to WhatsApp’s voice messaging.

The ease of access is also a very important part of the application now. Jan Koum, WhatsApp’s CEO told AllThingsD that even Facebook’s Messenger takes three clicks to be able to send a voice message. WhatsApp seems to have put together simplicity with ease and released this push-to-talk feature.

This could not have come at a better time for WhatsApp. When competitors like WeChat and Line are bulking up with features, to enhance the cross-platform messaging experience, WhatsApp looked like it was stagnating. Even though WhatsApp did have a record option earlier, this feature, with its ease of access will endear the application to more users. In case you can’t see the microphone icon near the message field, you will soon, since WhatsApp seems to be rolling it out gradually across the world.

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