WhatsApp’s finally let loose with its revamped Status feature after months of testing across beta versions of the app. It’s begun rolling out the addition slowly to iOS, Android, and Windows Phone patrons all over the world.
The new-and-improved WhatsApp Status has arrived just a few days ahead of the application’s eighth birthday on February 24. The tool has been text-only so far, reflecting the app’s ancient origins as a means to let people know what a user was up to before expanding to chat.
Now individuals can set photos, GIFs or videos as their Status. These updates disappear after 24 hours, leading to obvious comparisons with Snapchat and Instagram. A person’s status can be viewed by everyone by default, but can be restricted to a chosen few in privacy settings.
Interestingly, all Status updates are end-to-end encrypted just like all other WhatsApp features. Friends can reply to statuses, but their response can only be seen by the user in a chat thread. As for the statuses themselves, people can gussy them up with emojis, doodles, and text.
The shift marks a tonal switch for WhatsApp, leaping from a chat platform to something more social. The idea behind the move is presumably to encourage consumers to interact with the app more often, posting different statuses throughout the day and checking out other people’s updates.
All this can be done via the new Status tab. A previous WhatsApp for iOS beta had a feature which allowed users to get notifications when their contacts changed their status. It’s unclear whether this has made it to the official version.