WhatsApp

Most Popular Messaging Application

Next, I will be examining WhatsApp, which is a cross platform messaging client owned by Facebook. It has a user base of 1 Billion clients, as of February 2016 and reported that since June 2016, more than a 100 Million calls are made daily.

Pros

  • Simple concept executed well and perfected over time; The focus on messaging has shown through with every new feature introduced. Every feature has been built around a specific use case to enhance the overall user experience for messaging.
  • Simplistic UX; By focusing on a core experience, it is very easy for a new user to use the application and understand how to use most features out of the box. An example of this is using Voice Note, after you start recording audio, cancelling the recording is as simple as swiping to the left. The UI icons are easy to understand and no additional text is required as an explanation, as highlighted by the image on the left.
  • Useful Functionality; Being able to reply from within the notification is useful, as it is reduces the need to open WhatsApp whilst using another app. It increases the usage of the app without breaking the existing User Experience. Voicemail is another example of a useful feature, where it is possible to leave a message when you can’t get hold of someone. It is a simple application of Voice Notes and requires no additional functionality to work.
  • User-first Emphasis (Group, Call, Voicemail) Functionality; Group chats are easy to create and manage, especially when the limits on the number of users is too big to worry about. It allows people to have numerous groups for every different purpose like: Holiday, Work Colleagues, Home, Family, Football, etc. Voice Call is included within the same individual chat UI, providing a quick way to call a friend, without having to dig for numbers and so on. If you are unable to get hold of them, the user flow is very intuitive as it let’s you leave a Voicemail (Voice Note), Call Again or just Give up.

Cons

  • No Obvious Monetisation; Currently the service is provided for free with all user conversations being encrypted, thus inaccessible to WhatsApp/Facebook. Now this is a slight worry to me, as the natural thought process of “If you’re not paying for it, you become the product.” cannot applies. So, it is not clear to see how users are the product and I struggle to understand how WhatsApp plans to monetise their product in the future.
  • Call Quality; The quality for Voice Calls are not very good and it gets noticeably worse when you use it over a Mobile Network. There is also a very noticeable latency when there is a handover between Wi-Fi & Mobile, though this seems to be an issue for most VoIP applications. Considering all this, the User Mean Opinion Scoring at the end of each of call is appreciated, as it shows that there is a level of awareness and monitoring occurring around the Voice service.
  • Single contact, multiple numbers; I have one friend who shows up multiple times in my contact list and conversations because they have multiple numbers, most of them are old numbers and includes a work number. The user experience for this use case is poor and should have messages from the same person being grouped into a single contact like how all these numbers are grouped in my address book. It is just a pet peeve of mine as it makes it harder to select the right contact to invite to a group.

Improve

  • Multi Device functionality; Leading on from the previous Con, I think it is time for Whatsapp to allow people to expand beyond the one number/device per an account, so that conversations can continue onto multiple devices like tablets or work phones. Also inversely having multiple accounts on a phone, so that users can have a work account on the same device, may further increase usage of an already popular messaging application.
  • Introduce Bot & 3rd Party Integration; A potential method for WhatsApp to monetise their application could be the introduction of Bots and 3rd Party integration as part of a paid tier. The Bot functionality would be similar to WeChat with, 3rd Party integration could consisting; Customer Support for Business or Ordering & Payment for Food Delivery Services, etc. This type of enriched user experience and would increase the duration users spend inside the app. However, Whatsapp would need to ensure that there are strong privacy controls so that users can dictate what Bots & 3rd Party apps are able to see and not see.
  • Improve Call Quality; Utilisation of QUIC, which has already been deployed in Google Duo, might provide a better call experience as it would allow for easier handover from WiFi to mobile and vice versa.