We heard that Facebook’s WhatsApp was testing a feature called Status just recently, and now the feature is officially launched. It’s a new tab that allows users to share disappearing videos and images that are available for only 24 hours. Instagram, another Facebook property, added disappearing videos and photos in December, so it was only a matter of time before the feature came to WhatsApp.
WhatsApp launches Status this week
WhatsApp announced Status in a blog post on Monday. The new feature is being pushed out widely this week to coincide with the messaging platform’s eighth birthday on Friday. The company described it as a reinvention of the text-only status feature that was already in the app. Users can view their friends’ updates, reply to those updates, and post their own photos, GIFs or videos with captions. They can also send their updates to their contacts, although message threads are still needed to send media directly to specific friends.
WhatsApp started pushing out the update for Status to iOS, Android and Windows Phone users on Monday. Instead of being limited to just text, users can now add images and videos. According to TechCrunch, the new Status is a replacement for the old messaging platform that was similar to AOL Instant Messenger (if you’re old enough to remember that).
Copying Snapchat again, but with a twist
Status seems like another clear rip-off of Snapchat, as the messaging service’s core feature since its beginning has been disappearing messages. However, there is one key difference with Snapchat’s Stories feature. WhatsApp said all of the Status updates have end-to-end encryption to keep users’ information private.
Snapchat will undoubtedly be watching to see what happens next with this new copycat. Facebook already pulled a fast one with Instagram Stories, which TechCrunch reports has now surpassed 150 million daily users. The website describes Instagram Stories as “a good-enough Snapchat clone conveniently bolted into a popular app.”
TechCrunch reported that view counts on Snapchat have been falling while Instagram Stories views have been rising. This could spell trouble for the company, which is preparing for its initial public offering. It seems questionable that investors would shell out money for shares in a company that admitted in its IPO filing that its user growth rate plunged 82% after Instagram Stories launched in the fourth quarter. Then again, Twitter was hugely popular… for a limited time.