In recent years, WhatsApp has become the frontrunner in a suite of messaging apps that are hell-bent on dethroning Skype. After their acquisition by Facebook, they introduced a lot of features in an attempt to become a more complete mobile messaging solution. While some people may argue that the latest updates are features that have been around the competition 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 released 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, like the ability to share the slow-motion videos that can be created with the iPhone 5S. Users can even trim the video to a manageable length from within the app itself.
One feature that has generated some criticism is the inclusion of read receipts for messages. Until now, users have only been able to tell if a message was delivered to the recipient’s device with a double gray tick. Blue check marks will now appear to indicate that the message has been read. While some users protested the privacy intrusion, others welcomed it as most other platforms offer this feature as well.
Despite these updates, WhatsApp still has a long way to go to catch up with Skype in two crucial areas: voice/video calls and a desktop app. For millions of non-tech-savvy users, Skype is the “go to” application if they want to talk to other people on the Internet. Although WhatsApp had announced that it would launch VoIP calls, it hasn’t happened even as competitors like Google and Apple have incorporated it into their respective platforms.
Another reason for Skype’s popularity is the app’s availability for every platform imaginable, including PC. Until now, WhatsApp has remained stubbornly confined to the mobile world, which is fast becoming a handicap, though it was partly the reason for the app’s meteoric rise to popularity. For those users whose work requires them to spend most of the day in front of their computers, a desktop application is urgently required. If these two weaknesses are fixed, WhatsApp may really have a chance to replace Skype.