If you've been on the internet/out in public/travelling/existing as a human being at any point in the last 3-or-so years, then you've probably heard someone mention something called WhatsApp at least once or twice and wondered, "What the heck is that?"

Simple. Secure. Reliable messaging. With WhatsApp, you'll get fast, simple, secure messaging and calling for free, available on phones all over the world. (WhatsApp)

WhatsApp has actually been around a lot longer than people think: in 2009, it was designed by two former Yahoo! Employees after both were rejected from jobs at Facebook (ironically, WhatsApp would be bought by Facebook later in 2014). With the help of a Russian coder from RentACoder.com, Brian Acton and Jan Koum were able to perfect and pump out their final product — a communication app called WhatsApp after the popular phrase, "What's up?!"

As of June 2017, WhatsApp now has 1.2 billion active monthly users that send nearly 50 billion messages and over 3.3 billion images and 80 million GIFs daily (that's a whole lotta GIFs...), making it the most popular multi-media messaging app on the planet.

What's new with WhatsApp?

Check back here for the latest updates in WhatsApp news.

June 13, 2018: WhatsApp will be discontinuing support for iOS 7 after February 1, 2020

Today, WhatsApp announced in a blog post that the company will be removing support for the following devices and operating systems after the following dates:

  • Nokia Symbian S60 after June 30, 2017
  • BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10 after December 31, 2017
  • Windows Phone 8.0 and older after December 31, 2017
  • Nokia S40 after December 31, 2018
  • Android versions 2.3.7 and older after February 1, 2020
  • iPhone iOS 7 and older after February 1, 2020

The news was added as an update to an initial post from 2016 describing the evolutionary nature of technology and how the team wants to "focus [their] efforts on the mobile platforms the vast majority of people use." In order to continue expanding an app's features, sometimes the developers unfortunately need to ditch older platforms that don't have the capability to handle certain tasks.

All this is to say that if you'd like to continue using WhatsApp to communicate with friends and family and you're using one of the devices or operating systems listed above, you'll need to either update your software or upgrade your smartphone. Because WhatsApp will no longer actively develop for these platforms, some features of the app may stop functioning at any time, even before the listed dates.

May 7, 2018: WhatsApp now supports in-line Instagram and Facebook videos

When you share a YouTube video in WhatsApp, tapping on the link allows you to watch that video right within your conversation thread without having to leave it and open the full YouTube app. Today, similar functionality is now available for Instagram and Facebook videos.

As part of the latest 2.18.51 update for the iOS version of WhatsApp, tapping on a link to an Instagram or Facebook video will now allow you to watch it right from WhatsApp – all in-line with your current conversation.

The feature appears to still be rolling out to everyone, and while it's not currently available on Android, I'd expect to see it made available soon.

Additionally, the 2.18.51 update also adds further support for group chats, including the ability to add/revoke admin privileges from other users and active admins can edit the description, icon, and subject of an ongoing chat.

May 1, 2018: WhatsApp founder leaves the company after privacy disputes with Facebook

Jan Koum, the Co-Founder and CEO of WhatsApp, is officially leaving the company, reportedly as a result of various clashes and disagreements with Facebook.

The Washington Post:

Conflicts soon arose over how WhatsApp would make money. Facebook scrapped the 99-cent annual charge, and Koum and Acton continued to oppose the advertising model. [...] The founders also clashed with Facebook over building a mobile payments system on WhatsApp in India.

Encryption was also said to be an issue:

Facebook executives wanted to make it easier for businesses to use its tools, and WhatsApp executives believed that doing so would require some weakening of its encryption.

It also sounds like the problems extend beyond Koum:

Ultimately, Koum was worn down by the differences in approach, the people said. Other WhatsApp employees are demoralized and plan to leave in November, four years and a month after the Facebook acquisition, when they are allowed to exercise all their stock options under the terms of the Facebook deal, according to the people.

Koum posted on his personal Facebook confirming his departure, but not stating any reasons other than it being time to move on:

It's been almost a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it's been an amazing journey with some of the best people. But it is time for me to move on. I've been blessed to work with such an incredibly small team and see how a crazy amount of focus can produce an app used by so many people all over the world.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg commented on Koum's post:

I will miss working so closely with you. I'm grateful for everything you've done to help connect the world, and for everything you've taught me, including about encryption and its ability to take power from centralized systems and put it back in people's hands. Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp.

It's unclear who will be replacing Koum's shoes as CEO of WhatsApp, and over the coming months, it'll be interesting to see if his absence has any impact on WhatsApp's features or policies.

October 17, 2017: WhatsApp now lets you share your live location

WhatsApp announced in a blog post today that they've rolled out a new feature for iOS and Android that allows users to share their location in real time with family or friends. You can choose who can see where you are and for how long, too, so you have full control over your privacy. Here's how to use it:

  1. Open a chat with the person or group you want to share with.
  2. Under Location in the attach button, there's a new option to Share Live Location. Tap it.
  3. Choose how long you want to share your location, and then tap send.

With that, everyone in the chat will be able to see your real-time location on a map. If more than one person shares their Live Location in the group, all locations will be visible on the same map. This way, you can easily find your friends you want to meet up with or share your location with all your family members to let them know that you're safe.

What is WhatsApp?

WhatsApp Messenger is a FREE messaging app available for iPhone and other smartphones. WhatsApp uses your phone's Internet connection (4G/3G/2G/EDGE or Wi-Fi, as available) to let you message and call friends and family. Switch from SMS to WhatsApp to send and receive messages, calls, photos, videos, and Voice Messages. (WhatsApp)

The app essentially meshes together traditional messaging services, social media, and your phone for a fully-immersive messaging platform with a little added sprinkle of security with end-to-end encryption:

Some of your most personal moments are shared with WhatsApp, which is why we built end-to-end encryption into the latest versions of our app. When end-to-end encrypted, your messages, photos, videos, voice messages, documents, and calls are secured from falling into the wrong hands. (WhatsApp Security)

With WhatsApp, you don't have to pay any fees because it uses your iPhone's internet connection to let you message and call friends and family and there are no subscription fees to use WhatsApp: it's reasons like this that make it the most popular messaging app on the planet.

WhatsApp has over 200 million users in India, the company's co-founder Jan Koum said in a tweet in February 2017. The app's India user base was 160 million in November 2016, meaning that it gained 40 million users in roughly 4 months… Over 100 million voice calls are made on WhatsApp every single day, allowing people to connect with each other without incurring huge costs. (Gadgets360)

WhatsApp gives you other messaging options like…

  • Group Chat: Start a large or a small group chat with your other contacts and keep the conversation going with family and friends if you're working on a project together, planning a surprise party, etc.

  • WhatsApp Web: Send and receive WhatsApp messages from your contacts directly from your computer!

  • No Usernames or Pins: Why bother having to remember yet another username or PIN? WhatsApp works with your phone number, just like SMS, and integrates seamlessly with your phone's existing address book!

  • Always Logged In: One great feature about WhatsApp is the ability to always be logged in so you never miss a message from someone.

  • Quickly Connect: WhatsApp does a terrific job of weeding out the contacts in your address book who don't have the App, so you won't have to worry about scrolling through your massive list of contacts to find the right person.

With WhatsApp, you can even share your location, set custom wallpapers and sound notifications, exchange contacts, email chat history, receive offline messages, broadcast messages to multiple contacts at once, and so much more!

How does it work?

In order to sign up for WhatsApp, all you need to do is enter your phone number. You'll promptly get a text with a confirmation code: tap that to get started and you're on your way!

Once you're a part of WhatsApp, the app breaks down into 5 general sections:

Status

From this section of the WhatsApp app, you can update your status with an almost Snapchat-like feel: record a video or snap a photo, edit, tweak, add in your emojis, and write out a clever caption, and post it to your WhatsApp profile where it will exist for 24-hours before disappearing. You can even add filters to it!

You can also adjust your privacy settings to customize who sees your status updates.

Calls

You can dial up a friend or a family member from the Calls section of WhatsApp. Tap the phone icon with the plus sign in the upper right corner and your contact list will appear. From there you can select if you want to voice-chat or video-chat with someone.

Only your contacts that also use WhatsApp will be displayed in your contacts list, so you won't need to worry about accidentally calling someone without the it. From the Calls section, you can also see your call history and any calls you've missed recently.

Camera

The camera section is where you can snap an image to send directly to a contact or share on your status updates. You can choose to either take a picture or video on the spot, or pull one up from your camera roll.

This particular section also gives you access to camera adjustments like flash and dark light adjustment, so you have a bit more precision when you're snapping your WhatsApp masterpiece.

Chats

The chats part of the app is where you can send and receive messages from family and friends, start group messages, and even tell friends to get on WhatsApp so you can all chitty-chat on the same platform!

When you hit the new message icon in the upper right corner, it instantly brings down the contact list of your friends who are on WhatsApp. You can choose to either start a group chat or a single-person conversation and go from there.

If you're worried about privacy issues when it comes to WhatsApp and your conversations, don't worry because the app secures messages with end-to-end encryption, which means WhatsApp and third parties cannot read or listen to any of your messages (unlike traditional instant-messaging in the past…)

Settings

From the settings section of WhatsApp, you can change your profile picture, import your information from Facebook (if you're feeling lazy), and so much more!

One thing that you can do from your settings is go to web.whatsapp.com on your computer and scan the QR code on your screen in order to effortlessly take your messaging from your iPhone to your computer! It seriously just makes your conversations appear like magic on your computer screen.

The settings section also allows you to manage your account privacy (who sees your profile, your status, your About Me, who is blocked, if your read receipts are on), your account security notifications — which will deliver you notifications when a contact's security code has changed — two step verification, the ability to change your number, and the option to delete your account.

Through settings you can adjust your chat settings (chat wallpaper, the option to save photos to your camera roll, chat backup options), your notifications (show notifications, notification sound, group notifications and sound, in-app notifications and sound, the option to show a preview of a text), and your data and storage usage (photos, audio, videos, documents, cell settings like low data usage, network usage, and storage usage).

You can also get additional help and the option to message a friend to tell them all about WhatsApp and why they should join!

How much does it cost?

The app itself is totally free to download and use, but data charges may apply if you're contantly using the app while not connected to wi-fi.

Contact your service provider if you have any additional questions about your data.

Where can I download the app?

You can download WhatsApp right here!

Questions?

Do you have any particular questions about WhatsApp that we might have missed? Let us know your thoughts and leave us a comment down below!