Since its initial origin in 2009, WhatsApp has come a long way to become the most used chat app on the global market. A Statista report shows that WhatsApp, in 2022, lead the chat app market with over 2 billion monthly active users (MAUs) across the globe. The brainchild of Brian Acton and Jan Koum, ex-employees of Yahoo!, WhatsApp has been through many developments and upgrades.
In this blog, we are planning to cover the journey of all developments that this one of the top messaging apps has seen since its original inception. We will list down all updates documented by WhatsApp founders to give you an insight into how far the messenger app has traveled to reach the peak of popularity that it is witnessing now.
WhatsApp Updates - 2009 to Present
Whether you are a developer looking for some inspiration or someone looking for a good read, we assure you that this journey is interesting enough for your constant attention. Additionally, we are planning to continuously update this document every time WhatsApp releases a new update. So, stay with us and bookmark this webpage as well so every time you need to review any new updates of WhatsApp, you can access it faster.
Now, without further ado, let’s begin with the list of these WhatsApp updates:
1. 2023 - The present of the leading chat app
- This year in January, WhatsApp announced Proxy support. So even if the network is blocked or disrupted, by using volunteer networks or private networks, users can access features of WhatsApp.
2. 2022 - Enhancing voice messages
- In March 2022, the update for voice messages was announced. The new WhatsApp features allowed users to playback voice notes at 1.5x or 2x speed. The “Remember Playback” feature allowed users to resume playing voice notes from where they paused.
- Additionally, a “Draft Preview” feature was added to help users in listening to the voice they have recorded before sending it.
- WhatsApp now allowed Pausing and Resuming voice recordings as well.
- The “Out of chat Playback” allowed users to hear voice notes even when they were not in the chat.
- The “Waveform Visualization” displayed a visual representation of the sound included in voice messages.
- In April 2022, communities became a thing on WhatsApp. Now, people can manage multiple groups in their respective communities. The goal was to make it easier to share announcements, important, messages, etc, and to communicate easily and effectively with a larger group of people.
- Files sharing size was increased to up to 2GB as well for more comfort of users.
- Now, users could call up to 32 members with one tap if they all are in the same group.
- The WhatsApp new version allowed users to react to messages with emojis. Additionally, some emojis also came up with the option to select preferred skin tones.
- For groups, users could add up to 512 members to communicate with them at once.
- In May 2022, WhatsApp, one of the best social media apps, announced a free and secure hosting service by Meta for businesses. The API allowed businesses and developers to access WhatsApp services quickly and improve the speed of response to customers.
- WhatsApp announced its premium features for businesses like customizable click-to-chat links, the ability to manage chats on 10 devices, etc.
- In August 2022, WhatsApp announced a few new privacy features that allowed users to have a more secure experience. Now, users could leave groups silently without leaving a notification for the entire group except the admin of the group.
- Users can now modify their privacy settings to hide whenever they are online.
- The “View Once” feature is now protected against screenshots.
- In November 2022, the Community feature was released for all WhatsApp users.
- 32-user group calling and groups with 1024 also became the latest additions to the list of WhatsApp features.
- In November, new Business features were added as well. Now, users could use Business search to find several businesses from various categories.
- The message feature allowed users to communicate with found businesses directly.
- Using the app to make payments and checkout seamlessly allowed users to make purchases via WhatsApp itself.
- In December 2022, Avatars were announced. Avatars are digital versions of real people that can be customized in billions of combinations. There are 36 custom stickers as well to express various emotions.
- New features were added for group calls as well. Now, video calls support up to 32 members while allowing participants to mute or message other participating members individually if they want.
- People can be invited by sending them a join call link.
- Visual changes included colorful waveforms for participants whose cameras were off, in-call notifications if someone joins the call, and picture-in-picture support for iOS devices to support multitasking.
3. 2021 - Easier migration between iOS and Android
- On March 4, 2021, “Desktop calling” was announced with support for voice and video calling for desktop users.
- The feature also supported portrait and landscape modes.
- In April 2021, WHO and WhatsApp’s partnership brought a new sticker pack called “Vaccines for All” into existence.
- Apart from the support for healthcare across the globe, WhatsApp also announced a waiver on the fee that was brought from the WhatsApp Business API.
- In June 2021, some new WhatsApp updates were announced to empower businesses using the WhatsApp Business app -
- Instead of taking weeks to get onboard, now WhatsApp Businesses could start using the platform in minutes
- Businesses could provide more information now such as notifications of restocks
- For faster replies, businesses could create up to 10 messages for the list to select one of these messages every time they needed to respond
- Users can now provide better feedback if they choose to block a business from communicating with them on WhatsApp
- In June 2021, a Spanish-language vaccine finder was announced with a partnership between WhatsApp and CDC to encourage more US citizens to find nearby booths and get vaccinated.
- The newest WhatsApp feature released in July 2021 allowed users to join Group calls even when the conversation was already started. Additionally, the call info feature allowed users to review information like who is part of the call and who has not joined but was invited.
- In August 2021, WhatsApp announced the “View Once” feature for video and photo content. As the name suggests, the feature marks the content with “opened” and disables access to the content for everyone.
- September 2021 made it easier to transfer conversations between Android and iOS devices. Users could simply make chat backups and migrate to the other platform without losing their conversations.
- Now, users could create and store encrypted backups of their conversations on Google Drive or iCloud. The backup could be secured with a password or a 64-digit encryption key.
- In December 2021, WhatsApp users were rewarded with the ability to make disappearing messages a default for all their conversations. If users would choose the default disappearing messages option, all their messages would disappear after a while. However, now, they could also modify the duration after which the message would disappear.
4. 2020 - The pandemic era of the chat app
- In February 2020, WhatsApp announced that it has over 2 billion users around the world.
- In March 2020, the new WhatsApp messenger update brought Dark Mode into existence.
- With the rising Covid-19 situation, WhatsApp focused on improving its privacy standards further. Now, users could forward messages only to one conversation at a time. The aim was to focus on reducing the number of messages spreading misinformation.
- WhatsApp and WHO’s partnership brought the “Together at Home” sticker pack into existence which focused on encouraging people to stay connected through stickers. The sticker pack was localized for 9 languages- Arabic, French, Russian, Portuguese, German, Indonesian, Spanish, Italian, and Turkish.
- In April 2020, support for up to 8 members in a group video or voice calls was announced.
- In June 2020, the payment feature was announced for the Brazilian market. WhatsApp announced support for debit and credit cards of Banco do Brasil, Nubank, and Sicredi on the Visa and Mastercard networks. Additionally, a partnership with the leading payment processor in Brazil- Cielo was announced as well.
- In July 2020, WhatsApp's latest version started providing support for animated stickers. Additionally, users could now add other users by scanning their QR codes instead of having to type every digit individually.
- In the same month, the Dark Mode for WhatsApp web and the Desktop app was announced as well.
- For WhatsApp group video calls, users could now click on the video of the preferred participant to see them on the full screen.
- KaiOS users could also see and post status updates.
- In July 2020, new features to support WhatsApp Businesses were announced. Now, users could communicate with any business by scanning their QR codes. Additionally, now users could share WhatsApp catalogs of businesses by copying and pasting links on preferred platforms as well.
- In August, a “Special forward label” was added to mark messages that have been forwarded quite many times.
- A Search the Web feature was rolled out in Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, the UK, and the USA so users could search the internet and verify the authenticity of messages that are being forwarded too many times.
- New features to support direct purchasing of products from chats were announced along with the support of Facebook Hosting Services. WhatsApp also announced that it was planning to charge businesses for some features in the future.
- In November 2020, the option of Disappearing Messages was announced. Users could send disappearing messages that would automatically perish after 7 days. This one of the top WhatsApp features was announced for private conversations and group conversations as well.
- In November 2020, WhatsApp announced the payment feature for India as well. This payment system was a result of the partnership with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to use its Unified Payment Interface (UPI) technology to enable payments through the platform. The payment system supported 160+ banks functioning in the Indian market.
- The last feature announced in 2020 was “Carts”. Users could now browse catalogs and add multiple items in the cart to place orders for all items from a business at once.
5. 2019 - 10 years of WhatsApp
- On the first anniversary of the WhatsApp Business App, last WhatsApp features like Quick Replies, Labels, and Chat List Filtering were announced to be available for WhatsApp web and desktop as well.
- In Feb 2019, the support for Touch ID and Face ID features was announced for iOS 5s or later and iOS 9 and above users.
- In the same month, WhatsApp celebrated its 10th anniversary.
- In April, WhatsApp Business was announced for iOS users in Brazil, the UK, the USA, Germany, India, Mexico, and Indonesia. This WhatsApp app update came with features like Business Profiles, Business Messaging Tools, and WhatsApp Web features for business users on iOS devices.
- New privacy settings announced in November allowed users to control who could add them to WhatsApp groups.
- Admins could send invites to join groups in private conversations. Users had three days to accept the invitations before the links get expired.
- In October 2019, support for Fingerprint Lock on the Android version of the WhatsApp app was added.
- In November, the catalog feature for WhatsApp Business users from Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the UK, and the USA was announced. Users could now see catalogs of businesses on their regular WhatsApp to make purchases.
6. 2018 - Prioritizing better control for group chats
- In January, the WhatsApp Business app for Android users from Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK, and the USA was launched.
- Businesses could use features like Business Profiles, Quick Replies, Greeting Messages, Away Messages, Messaging Statistics, WhatsApp Web, and Confirmed Business Accounts.
- New features for Groups in WhatsApp new updates were announced- Group description, Admin controls, Participant search, and Group catch-up were some new additions to the WhatsApp experience.
- Admins of groups now had the freedom to control the permissions of other group members and the creator of the group could no longer be removed from the group that they created.
- Another feature in the WhatsApp app update was also added to ensure that users when they have repeatedly left some groups, could not be added to the group they left by others.
- Among the latest WhatsApp updates released in June 2018, new features were added to let admins be the only party sending messages in their groups. This feature was designed for announcements and other such requirements.
- In July, new WhatsApp updates for Android and iOS devices allowed users to make group video calls and voice calls with up to 4 members.
- Since July itself, new WhatsApp features enabled labeling messages which have been forwarded from other inboxes.
- In July 2018, a test was launched to limit the number of forwarding messages to encourage private texting.
- Some new WhatsApp features were added in August as well. Users now could register with their WhatsApp numbers on websites of businesses to get information like shipping confirmations or boarding passes in their WhatsApp inboxes.
- Support for a quick chat through the website or Facebook pages of businesses was added.
- Now, businesses can provide real-time updates and customer support through WhatsApp.
- WhatsApp was specifically launched for JioPhone using KaiOS in the Indian market in September 2018.
- In October, Sticker packs designed by in-house WhatsApp designers and independent artists were launched.
- New APIs and interfaces were also introduced so developers from all over the world could create their stickers for WhatsApp. Users could install apps of these creators to add options for new WhatsApp stickers.
7. 2017 - The saga of 24-hour status
- For the first time in the history of WhatsApp, the support for photos and videos in status was released in February 2017. These status updates were secured with end-to-end encryptions as well and only contacts could see them.
- In July, WhatsApp announced a milestone of 1 billion daily active users across the globe.
- In September, WhatsApp founders announced their intention to make the app friendly for businesses across the globe as well.
- In the new WhatsApp update that was launched in October 2017, “Share Live Location” was announced. Now, users could choose their WhatsApp contacts to send them the live location. Users could choose the preferred timer after which the location would expire automatically. They also could stop sharing the location at any time.
- In the same month, a new feature was released for WhatsApp’s latest version of the period that allowed users to delete (unsend) their messages within seven minutes. Whether the message was sent to a personal inbox or in the group, senders could remove it in a maximum of seven minutes for everyone.
8. 2016 - Officially a messenger with 1 billion MAUs
- In 2016, WhatsApp founders announced getting rid of the subscription part and focusing on creating partnerships with businesses around the world to use WhatsApp as a communication platform.
- WhatsApp officially crossed a milestone of 1 billion monthly active users (MAUs) across the globe.
- The end of support of WhatsApp was announced for smartphone technologies like BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10, Nokia S40, Nokia Symbian S60, Android 2.1 and Android 2.2, Windows Phone 7, and iPhone 3GS/iOS 6.
- End-to-end encryption was announced for WhatsApp to reward users with better privacy and secrecy to keep their conversations safe.
- The WhatsApp Web app was announced with support for Windows 8+ and Mac OS 10.9+. The web app provided features like push notifications, keyboard shortcuts, and more.
- WhatsApp touched the milestone of supporting 100 million voice calls every day.
- In August, Privacy and Policies were updated to cover all recent upgrades applied to the app.
- In October, new features for WhatsApp Camera were released. Now, users could draw and add emojis to the pictures and videos they capture or pick from their gallery. This update also supported adding texts.
- Another update added to the WhatsApp camera was support for the front flash so users could capture good pictures even in low lights.
- Other features like zooming while making videos and changing the preferred camera between front and rear were also added in this version.
- In November, the WhatsApp video calling feature was announced for all WhatsApp versions.
9. 2015 - WhatsApp Web made lives easier
- For the first time in WhatsApp’s history, its web version was announced. Users could scan a QR code on the website https://web.whatsapp.com and pair their WhatsApp account with the web version of the app. However, this feature was not available for iOS users yet due to Apple platform limitations.
10. 2014 - Shaking hands with Facebook
- Facebook’s partnership with WhatsApp was announced by developers and WhatsApp now had over 450 million monthly active users with over 320 million daily active users.
- WhatsApp now had over half a billion active users with 700 million photos and 100 million videos being shared every day.
- The majority of WhatsApp users were from Brazil, India, Mexico, and Russia.
11. 2013 - The origin of Voice messages
- July 17 was the date when iPhone v2.10.1 was released. It was also announced that All WhatsApp users could use the app for free for the first year and then $0.99 per year after that.
- iPhone users could now back up their conversation history on iCloud and retrieve these chats every time they would reinstall the app.
- API hooks were released for iOS developers to make WhatsApp interfacing easier.
- Voice messages were introduced for the very first time for all models of smartphones supporting WhatsApp.
- WhatsApp reached 400 monthly active users (MAUs).
12. 2012 - When sharing location became a thing
- Another major update WhatsApp founder blessed app users with was called “Send place”. Users could wait a few seconds to load nearby locations and pick a location to send an exact location to other chats. The option was provided under the Share Location menu.
- Users could now change group icons as well.
13. 2011 - 11,574+ messages per second were being exchanged
- This year, in February, the 2.6 version of the WhatsApp app was introduced for iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android phone users. The update supported group chats of up to 5 people and users could leave groups just by deleting group conversations from the chat window. The feature also came with the ability to customize alerts and notifications of group conversations.
- Another major development was the release of WhatsApp beta for the Nokia S40 in July. Except for Nokia C3-00 and Nokia X2-01, this was the only model of Nokia that started supporting WhatsApp even though the version was just beta at the moment.
- Its developers announced achieving 1 million established TCP sessions on a single machine that too with memory and CPU to spare.
- Finally, on September 25th, the WhatsApp Windows Phone client was live on the marketplace. Users with Windows 7.5 (Mango) could use the application. This was the first OS version of Windows supporting the WhatsApp application.
- WhatsApp’s history marked crossing over 1 billion messages being sent in a day which means 41,666,667 messages an hour, 694,444 messages a minute, and 11,574 messages a second.
14. 2010 - The year of crashes and fixes
- In January, WhatsApp app crashes were reported by users. The developer team asked users facing this issue to disable Facebook sync and Facebook photo sync from the Facebook app if they were using it.
- Developers also decided to invite 15-20 beta testers so app updates can be tested before they were launched for other users.
- Fast forward to April, WhatsApp founders decided to make WhatsApp directly available on the website for BlackBerry users. The app was also removed from AppWorld as the app store was not available across the globe.
- BlackBerry users also had the option of downloading and trying the app for free before they would decide to buy a one-year subscription by making the payment through PayPal.
- Already existing WhatsApp subscribers who bought the subscription from AppWorld and helped through the beta testing phase for the BlackBerry version of the WhatsApp app were rewarded with 10 years of subscription.
- In July 2010, Apple developers released the Nokia Symbian client which was also made available on the website for download. Developers also released the Android 2.x client for download.
- For Android 2.2 users, c2dm was used to help them in saving their phone batteries.
- 2010 also witnessed the release of 2.5.12 which brought some amazing new features. These features were -
- The ability to search message history with keywords
- Now, users could paste images directly from the clipboard to the text box
- Ability to edit and send longer videos. Before this update users could not send videos of a length more than supported by the app
- The app started supporting thumbnails from the videos being sent
- Integrated automatically dismissing camera when the app was in the background
- Support for deleting individual messages by tapping and holding on to them
- High-resolution thumbnails for pictures being transferred on iPhone 4
- Fix for the glitch that occurred due to the low storage space while trying to use camera features
- Localization updates for supported languages were released as well
- Fixing updates for the contact index bar to make it work properly for all alphabets
- Retina display graphics and localization for the notes recorder were added
- Ability to cancel the download or upload of media files
- Update to allow reviewing pictures before sending them
- Faster rotation from landscape to portrait was added as well
15. 2009 - The year of the origin
This is the first year of WhatsApp’s journey. From the development process to WhatsApp 2.0’s publishing on the Apple App Store, this year covered many initial phases of WhatsApp’s development.
- In late August, WhatsApp was submitted to the Apple App Store for a review process before it would get approved and live on the app store.
- The chat app got approved after its developers had to remove all hints connecting the app with Blackberry from its description of the app store. However, developers also had to make some modifications to the UI before WhatsApp 2.0 got the approval to get published on the app store.
- December was the month when WhatsApp 2.3 got released with features that pushed its popularity. This update covered features like -
- Audio and photo media transfer support between any iPhone of the era whether 2G, 3G, or 3GS
- Video transfer support between iPhone 3GS with iPhone OS 3.1 or higher
- Users could transfer files either from their offline drive or capture photos or videos from the app in real-time
- In 2.3, WhatsApp provided “Red-colored letters- U for Unknown, S for Sent, and D for Delivered” to display if messages were delivered or not
- Another update was the ability to customize the alert sound for push notifications on WhatsApp
- Users could also disable the preview of messages now from the notification screen
- Unfortunately, WhatsApp 2.3 had some network support issues with 3G/UMTS from certain locations in countries like France, Singapore, Australia, the UK, the USA, and more
- In December itself, 2.4 was launched to fix network issues that were there in the 2.3 version of the chat app
Aparna Growth Strategist
Aparna is a growth specialist with handsful knowledge in business development. She values marketing as key a driver for sales, keeping up with the latest in the Mobile App industry. Her getting things done attitude makes her a magnet for the trickiest of tasks. In free times, which are few and far between, you can catch up with her at a game of Fussball.
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