Over the last couple of years, WhatsApp has emerged as the front-runner in a pack of messaging apps that are bent on dethroning Skype. After their acquisition by Facebook, they have introduced a slew of features in a bid to become a more complete mobile messaging solution. While some people may argue that the latest updates are features that have been present in competitors for a while now, WhatsApp users (now numbering in the hundreds of millions) have generally welcomed them with open arms.
The WhatsApp iOS app has recently launched new features such as the ability to archive conversations, add captions to attached images and some new wallpapers for the app as well. While most of these features have long been available on the Android platform, some of them are exclusive to iOS such as the ability to share the slow-motion videos that can be created using the iPhone 5S. Users can even trim the video down to a manageable length from inside the app itself.
One feature that has generated some criticism is the inclusion of read receipts for messages. So far, users have only been able to tell if a message has been delivered to the recipient’s device with a double tick mark in grey. Now blue tick marks will appear to indicate that the message has been read. While some users protested about the intrusion of privacy, others welcomed it as most other platforms offer this feature as well.
In spite of these updates, WhatsApp still has a long way to go to catch up with Skype in two crucial areas: voice/video calling and a desktop app. For millions of non-tech savvy users, Skype is the “go to” application if they want to talk with others on the Internet. Although WhatsApp had announced that it would launch VoIP calling, it has not happened even as competitors such as Google and Apple have incorporated it into their respective platforms.
Another reason for the popularity of Skype is the availability of the app for all conceivable platforms including PC. So far, WhatsApp has stubbornly remained confined to the mobile world which is quickly becoming a handicap, even though it was partly the reason for the app’s meteoric rise to popularity. For those users whose job requires them to spend most of the day in front of their computers, a desktop app is sorely required. If these two weaknesses are rectified, WhatsApp may truly have a shot at replacing Skype.