WhatsApp users in two countries can now broadcast messages on Channels. However, the feature is not new and appears to have been ‘borrowed’ from rival chat apps.
WhatsApp has launched Channels, a highly popular feature among Telegram and Slack users. Channels, which anyone can create, allow broadcasts to be sent to a large number of people. They function similarly to groups but have some limitations. For instance, on Telegram channels, users cannot participate in conversations unless the admin has allowed them to do so. This is because channels are primarily designed for broadcasts and lack conversation-style interactions found in groups.
WhatsApp Channels, currently live in Colombia and Singapore, mark another step toward making the chat app as robust as possible. The Meta-owned platform is known for introducing new features months or years after rival apps have had them. WhatsApp does not shy away from copying other chat apps in terms of feature integrations, but that is a common practice in the global tech ecosystem where rival services attempt to appeal to users with great features.
WhatsApp has been updated over the last few years with useful additions. For instance, the app can now be used on more than one device, although it is not fully cloud-based like Telegram, which does not need workarounds to function on multiple devices. The instant messaging service can be used on two or three smartphones and not just WhatsApp web. WhatsApp has also released official apps for Windows and macOS. Lastly, it has adjusted its UI with a modern look that matches Material You design guidelines for Android.
The launch of the Channels feature seems to make sense. Leading publications such as The Verge share their stories on Telegram as soon as they are published on their sites. If WhatsApp can replicate the popularity of Telegram Channels, it could pull these publishers, and other popular channels from other platforms, into its ecosystem. WhatsApp is one of the most widely used chat apps worldwide, with over two billion users. It is the most used chat app in over 100 countries and is among the select few apps downloaded over five billion times. Meta reported that WhatsApp for Business generated over $900 million in revenue.
There are a few areas where WhatsApp could improve to cater to a niche group of users who find Slack or Telegram valuable. Firstly, the app could synchronise conversations on the cloud, enabling users to switch between devices and access their messages seamlessly. Secondly, WhatsApp could strive to introduce unique and original features instead of imitating features other apps have already implemented. However, it’s important to acknowledge that while these suggestions may remain unfulfilled, WhatsApp will maintain its leadership position in the user base due to its early market entry and widespread positive reception worldwide.
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