- Facebook continues to copy from the Snapchat playbook, bringing a variety of Snap Stories-like features to its messaging app WhatsApp, as reported by Bloomberg.
- The new feature, which is being tested in France and the Netherlands at the moment but is expected to rollout globally soon, allows users to take photos and videos within the app and share them with contacts as a status report in a manner similar to Snapchat’s Stories.
- “We’re bringing this format into WhatsApp and giving it a bit of the WhatsApp flavor that we know, which touches on reliability, security and personal sharing,” product manager Randall Sarafa told Bloomberg.
The “status” feature for WhatsApp was actually first discovered last November as a hidden option in a public beta build of the app. At the time, users who wanted to access the feature had to download a third-party app to enable it. The recent official rollout is the first time the feature is actually integrated wholesale into WhatsApp’s service.
WhatsApp has a huge user base — Bloomberg reports it stands at 1.2 billion — but most of the traction it’s picked up has been outside the U.S., as other Facebook products like Messenger dominate stateside. Snapchat, a far smaller company, doesn’t have much of an audience outside of the U.S. and certain parts of Europe. Snapchat-like features for WhatsApp might then be Facebook’s bid to fill the video messaging market on a more global scale than Snap.
That’s not to say Snap is safe on the home front, either: Instagram’s version of Stories has rocketed to over 150 million users since its launch in August. Instagram Stories’ rapidly growing user base now rivals Snap’s and might have significantly stymied the startup’s growth during the crucial period heading into its IPO, which is expected for next month.
The news comes as Facebook is expanding WhatsApp’s offerings, including with a recent live beta test of location tracking and by opening the door to advertising for the first time last summer.
Photo Cred: Pablo Duran
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