The Snapchat-like Status feature WhatsApp began testing last November started officially rolling out to users of the Facebook-owned messaging application Monday.
It was just eight years ago, in February 2009, when we started writing the first lines of code for what would eventually become WhatsApp. The original idea behind the project was to build an app that lets your friends and other contacts know what you’re up to. This was months before we added messaging. The first version of our app looked like this:
Even after we added messaging in the summer of 2009, we kept the basic “text-only” status functionality in WhatsApp. Every year, when (co-founder Brian Acton) and I would plan projects to work on, we always talked about improving and evolving this original “text-only” status feature.
We are excited to announce that, coinciding with WhatsApp’s eighth birthday Feb. 24, we are reinventing the status feature. Starting today, we are rolling out an update to status, which allows you to share photos and videos with your friends and contacts on WhatsApp in an easy and secure way. Yes, even your status updates are end-to-end encrypted.
Product manager Randall Sarafa discussed the inevitable Snapchat comparisons with Karissa Bell of Mashable), saying:
We’re familiar with the format, broadly.
Sarafa emphasized that Statuses are end-to-end encrypted, and that photos and videos sent via Status are optimized in terms of data consumption so that the app can be used in areas with slower connections, adding:
Our hope is that it will be as reliable as media is in chats.
Sarafa also discussed the new feature’s similarity to Snapchat and whether ads are coming to WhatsApp with Kurt Wagner of Recode:
This is a format that is being broadly adopted, and we’re adopting it as well. There are some pretty interesting things that we’ve done to make it unique to WhatsApp.
We’re not adding ads to WhatsApp, and we don’t have plans to do that.