Rewind 2020: Here is how WhatsApp evolved this year | HT Tech

Rewind 2020: Here is how WhatsApp evolved this year

As 2020 comes to an end, we take a look at some of the top WhatsApp features, announcements, and more.

| Updated on: Dec 31 2020, 09:57 IST
WhatsApp Year Ender 2020
WhatsApp Year Ender 2020

It is safe to assume that our reliance on WhatsApp has only grown during this pandemic-hit year. As people around the world shifted to digital tools to remotely work, communicate, and collaborate, WhatsApp remained one of the most preferred tools for not just personal communication but professional as well.

WhatsApp as a platform continued to evolve this year as well. Some changes you may have noticed already. And in case you missed out on anything, we got you covered. As 2020 comes to an end, we take a look at some of the top WhatsApp features, announcements, and more.

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Chatbots to spread awareness

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WhatsApp's role during the pandemic started with its partnership with global health organisations to launch chatbots for users through the WhatsApp Business API tool to get access to reliable information on Covid-19. WhatsApp launched the Covid-19 chatbots in India too, and in 13 states.

WhatsApp also partnered with the Common Services Centers (CSC) to launch a chatbot for users to receive digital literacy services and resources. WhatsApp said there have been over 13,000 unique conversations on CSC's chatbot till date, and it is expected to be used by 10 million beneficiaries by August 2021.

Video calling, of course

Video calling saw a surge this year as people kept in touch with their loved ones, students and teachers moved to online classes, and virtual meetings became the new normal. WhatsApp also witnessed an increase especially in the group calling on its app. WhatsApp also increased the group calling participant limit from four to eight owing to this surge.

“Group calling has been particularly useful for users wanting to connect with more people at once - which is why we doubled the number of participants on WhatsApp calls from four to eight in April. People on an average were spending over 15 billion minutes talking each day on WhatsApp calls, well above a typical day before the pandemic,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told Hindustan Times.

Dark Mode

2020 was also a big year for WhatsApp features with the app releasing one of the most awaited features at the beginning of the year. Dark mode on WhatsApp was finally made available after months of reports and leaks. WhatsApp also launched the advanced search tool, QR code support, animated stickers and a redesigned storage tool. Another major feature to launch on WhatsApp was disappearing messages. WhatsApp has set a self-destruct timer of seven days for messages that can be activated by anyone, and by admins in group chats.

We probably haven't used WhatsApp Web as much as we did this year. WhatsApp expanded dark mode to its web and desktop clients, and there were some minor improvements as well. WhatsApp has also started rolling out voice and video call support for its web and desktop versions in beta. The official launch will take place next year. This would be a major upgrade for WhatsApp considering the need and use for video calls while working remotely.

WhatsApp Pay

Another milestone for WhatsApp this year was finally launching its peer-to-peer payments service in India. WhatsApp Pay has been active in India since 2018 but its official rollout was stalled. It finally received the green light this year with a cap of 20 million users in the first stage. WhatsApp had reported a 1 million user base for its UPI-based payment service during the beta launch.

WhatsApp Business

WhatsApp also rolled out new features for its business app this year. In October, WhatsApp announced over 175 million people connect with a business account every day. In India, WhatsApp Business has over 15 million users, and over 3 million users visit a business catalogue daily. The most recent feature on WhatsApp Business was a shopping button that makes it possible for users to enquire about specific products from the catalogue.

“We've heard from many small businesses how they already use WhatsApp to close sales. They might use their catalog to showcase their goods or services, and then chat with the customer to coordinate the details and payment. We want to make all of this even easier and simpler in WhatsApp for everyone involved. Our conviction is that WhatsApp has the potential to bring together privacy, business solutions, commerce and credibility - all on one platform. We believe that with WhatsApp, we can help scale our digital economy--especially for businesses--and in doing so bring critical services to all Indians across all parts of the country.” the WhatsApp spokesperson said.

WhatsApp currently has over 2 billion users globally, and 400 million of them are from India alone. Facebook is yet to announce the latest numbers for WhatsApp's user base. In its Q3 earnings report, Facebook said 2.5 billion people used at least one of its services daily, and 3.2 billion monthly.

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First Published Date: 31 Dec, 09:57 IST