While WhatsApp began its life in 2009, this year, including today, it just can’t seem to stay out of the headlines. It makes headlines at the same time that BlackBerry can’t seem to find its way into a positive one. Even six weeks ago, when I found myself writing about BlackBerry Messenger expanding to Android and iOS, I couldn’t help but write something to the extent of, “Who cares I already have WhatsApp for cross-platform messaging,” essentially stealing some of BlackBerry’s thunder for any who read that piece. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in pointing that out either.

WhatsApp Logo

In 2011, when WhatsApp raised $8 million from blue-chip venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and others, they returned to the headlines and began an assault on Europe with their new found money. That cash infusion gave it a huge foothold in Europe and India where SMS fees can get out of hand or at least make users count their messages sent with their mobile provider. WhatsApp is, of course, essentially free and works on iOS, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V) and yes, those phones can all message each other. The App uses your data plan and WiFi to circumvent carrier fees and counts for SMS.

WhatsApp Users Can Create Groups

In addition to basic messaging WhatsApp users can create groups, send each other unlimited images, video and audio media messages. Of course you can only send messages to others using WhatsApp, but who isn’t?

Earlier this year, WhatsApp saw the headlines when it boasted on Twitter that it has more regular users than, well, Twitter. A month later it was back in the news and on Twitter telling the world that it broke a single-day record with 27 billion messages sent.

Today’s headline has WhatsApp dropping the $0.99 app fee for iPhone and iPad users. Not bad for an ad-free app and a smart decision given that while the app only cost $0.99 (the new free) there are a number of people who won’t pay $0.99 for something they don’t know if they will ultimately use. After a year’s use WhatsApp will charge you $1 per year but that is a small downside given the money it saves.

WhatsApp Added Some Features

In addition to going free with this new version WhatsApp added some features that include:

  • The ability to send multiple photos at once
  • URL schema support for third-party apps
  • iCloud support for backing up and restoring chat history

The war of the messaging apps is far from over when it still includes Line, KakaoTalk, WeChat, Path and Facebook Messenger. But today’s update will see WhatsApp growing even more popular.