WhatsApp Blog

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Why we don't sell ads

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.
– Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Brian and I spent a combined 20 years at Yahoo!, working hard to keep the site working. And yes, working hard to sell ads, because that's what Yahoo! did. It gathered data and it served pages and it sold ads.

We watched Yahoo! get eclipsed in size and reach by Google... a more efficient and more profitable ad seller. They knew what you were searching for, so they could gather your data more efficiently and sell better ads.

These days companies know literally everything about you, your friends, your interests, and they use it all to sell ads.

When we sat down to start our own thing together three years ago we wanted to make something that wasn't just another ad clearinghouse. We wanted to spend our time building a service people wanted to use because it worked and saved them money and made their lives better in a small way. We knew that we could charge people directly if we could do all those things. We knew we could do what most people aim to do every day: avoid ads.

No one wakes up excited to see more advertising, no one goes to sleep thinking about the ads they'll see tomorrow. We know people go to sleep excited about who they chatted with that day (and disappointed about who they didn't). We want WhatsApp to be the product that keeps you awake... and that you reach for in the morning. No one jumps up from a nap and runs to see an advertisement.

Advertising isn't just the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought. At every company that sells ads, a significant portion of their engineering team spends their day tuning data mining, writing better code to collect all your personal data, upgrading the servers that hold all the data and making sure it's all being logged and collated and sliced and packaged and shipped out... And at the end of the day the result of it all is a slightly different advertising banner in your browser or on your mobile screen.

Remember, when advertising is involved you the user are the product.

At WhatsApp, our engineers spend all their time fixing bugs, adding new features and ironing out all the little intricacies in our task of bringing rich, affordable, reliable messaging to every phone in the world. That's our product and that's our passion. Your data isn't even in the picture. We are simply not interested in any of it.

When people ask us why we charge for WhatsApp, we say "Have you considered the alternative?"


Sending Places and Group Icons

Today we wanted to write a blog post about two new exciting features we have recently introduced. We hope you will enjoy them and use them frequently.

Send place

First feature is an improvement on the current "Share Location" functionality. Historically our "Share Location" functionality allowed you to send your location to your chat partner or to your group chat. It is useful if you want to share your approximate location on a map. We got a lot of feedback asking for ability to share a specific place - for example, when you waiting to meet friends in a bar, at a restaurant or some other physical place. We have added this feature on top of the existing "Share Location" functionality. Now when you use "Share Location", you can either send your Current Location right away or wait a few seconds for places near you to load and pick from. If you haven't used "Share Location" before, this graphics shows you how to get to Share Location menu on iPhone, BlackBerry or Android devices:

Once you enter "Share Location" menu, you will be presented with an option to send your Current Location immediately as you have always been able to in the past. Alternatively, if you wait a few seconds, you will be presented with a list of places nearby. Once you select the place to send, it will appear in the conversation. You can tap on the name of the place to get more information about it or you can tap on the map thumbnail to view the place on the map. This is what selecting places and viewing places looks like on the iPhone:

This is what selecting places and viewing places looks like on the Android:

This is what selecting places and viewing places looks like on the BlackBerry:

Group Icon

Second new feature we want to talk about is ability to set a Group Icon for your group chat. We wanted to give all of you the ability to personalize your group chat by attaching a custom icon to your group. For example, if you have a group chat about soccer, you can use a photo of a soccer ball as the group icon.

Anybody can set or change the group icon when viewing Group Info. This is how you get into the Group Info:

Once you enter Group Info, simply tap or click on the Group Icon to set it or change it:

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more cool and innovative features as we continue to iterate and improve our product.


It is a hoax. Really, it is.

We have been getting a lot of emails and questions from you about this chain letter message circulating in our network:

WhatsApp is going to cost us money soon. The only way that it will stay free is if you are a frequent user i.e. you have at least 10 people you are chatting with. To become a frequent user send this message to 10 people who receive it (2 ticks) and your WhatsApp logo should turn Red to indicate a frequent user.

Please understand that this is a hoax and there is no truth to it. While we are flattered that we made it to Hoax Slayer, we would rather work on cool new features instead of debunking silly stories like these.

UPDATE: this is a hoax message as well:

"Whatsapp is shutting down on 28th jan Message from Jim Balsamic (CEO of Whatsapp) we have had an over usage of user names on whatsapp Messenger. We are requesting all users to forward this message to their entire contact list. If you do not forward this message, we will take it as your account is invalid and it will be deleted within the next 48 hours. Please DO NOT ignore this message or whatsapp will no longer recognise your activation. If you wish to re-activate your account after it has been deleted, a charge of 25.00 will be added to your monthly bill. We are also aware of the issue involving the pictures updates not showing. We are working diligently at fixing this problem and it will be up and running as soon as possible. Thank you for your cooperation from the Whatsapp team"


1 million is so 2011

Happy 2012 everyone!

A few months ago we published a blog post that talked about our servers doing 1 million tcp connections on a single box: http://blog.whatsapp.com/?p=170

Today we have an update for those keeping score at home: we are now able to easily push our systems to over 2 million tcp connections!

jkb@c123$ sysctl kern.ipc.numopensockets kern.ipc.numopensockets: 2277845

Best part is that we are able to do it with plenty of CPU and memory to spare and do it sustainably:

CPU: 37.9% user,  0.0% nice, 13.6% system,  6.6% interrupt, 41.9% idle Mem: 35G Active, 14G Inact, 18G Wired, 4K Cache, 9838M Buf, 27G Free

This time we also wanted to share some more technical details with you about hardware, OS and software:

hw.machine: amd64 hw.model: Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU X5675 @ 3.07GHz hw.ncpu: 24 hw.physmem: 103062118400 hw.usermem: 100556451840

jkb@c123$ uname -rps FreeBSD 8.2-STABLE amd64 jkb@c123$ cat /boot/loader.conf.local boot_verbose="" kern.hwpmc.nbuffers=32 kern.hwpmc.nsamples=64 kern.ipc.maxsockets=2400000 kern.maxfiles=3000000 kern.maxfilesperproc=2700000 kern.maxproc=16384 kern.timecounter.smp_tsc=1 net.inet.tcp.tcbhashsize=524288 net.inet.tcp.hostcache.hashsize=4096 net.inet.tcp.hostcache.cachelimit=131072 net.inet.tcp.hostcache.bucketlimit=120

and the last important piece of our infrastracture is Erlang:

8> erlang:system_info(system_version). "Erlang R14B03 (erts-5.8.4) [source] [64-bit] [smp:24:24] [rq:24] [async-threads:0] [kernel-poll:false]\n"

P.S. - we are hiring in both client and server teams, so send your resume to jobs at whatsapp dot com if you are interested (.. and we are also looking for summer interns)


one billion messages

Coinciding with our planet crossing the 7 billion population mark this week, last week WhatsApp crossed its own milestone for the first time by sending just over 1 billion messages in a single day.  Similar to the awe we feel that our planet will now hold over 7 billion people, all of us at WhatsApp are extremely humbled and excited about the future.

Just how much is 1 billion messages? That is 41,666,667 messages an hour, 694,444 messages a minute, and 11,574 messages a second.

1 billion messages a day is a significant milestone and also a small step closer towards our goal: providing a great mobile messaging system for a global market, regardless of your handset.

The loyalty and passion consumers have for our product leaves us feeling great gratitude, we really couldn't do it without you.


Windows Phone = SIX

On Saturday September 25th, after months of hard work, our Windows Phone client went live in the Marketplace!

WhatsApp Messenger for Windows Phone is available to those running version 7.5 (Mango) release on their device. We are sorry if you don't have Windows Phone 7.5 yet, but very soon all of the current Windows Phone 7.0 devices will get upgraded to 7.5 and you will be able to download and enjoy our app.

Also, Windows Phone client release brings our total supported mobile platforms to SIX! Just to recap, they are:

  • iPhone (OS 3.1 or newer)
  • Android (OS 2.1 or newer)
  • BlackBerry (OS 4.5 or newer)
  • Nokia Symbian S60 (3rd Edition Feature Pack 1 or newer)
  • Nokia S40 (6th edition or newer)
  • Windows Phone (OS 7.5 or newer)

We are extremly excited to add Windows Phone to the list of supported platforms. Stay tuned for more features and improvements...


ONE MILLION!

We usually don't use this blog to talk about the technology stack behind WhatsApp, but today we wanted to share with you an awesome milestone we have reached.

Over the past few months we have been making a lot of improvements to our servers to increase the performance, uptime and scalability. Today we have tuned some knobs, shifted some traffic around and achieved 1 million established tcp sessions on a single machine (and with memory and cpu to spare!)

$ netstat -an | grep -c EST 1016313

We are extremely proud of this achievement and wanted to share with other tech minded people out there. For those curious how we did it, the technology on the backend is simple: FreeBSD + Erlang

P.S. - we are hiring in both client and server teams, so send your resume to jobs at whatsapp dot com if you are interested.


Nokia S40

Today we are happy to announce the public beta release of WhatsApp Messenger for the Nokia S40 platform. You can download it by visiting http://www.whatsapp.com/s40/ from your Nokia S40 phone (we are only supporting Nokia C3-00 and Nokia X2-01 phones at the moment, but we plan to add support for more S40 devices in the future)

As with any beta software, we need your help finding and reporting bugs - so please email s40-support at whatsapp dot com if you run into any problems with WhatsApp Messenger on your Nokia S40 phone. You can also contact us directly from the app via Options > About > Contact (that is preferred method when reporting bugs)

Please keep in mind that the product is still in beta and has limited functionality when it comes to multi-media or group chat. We plan to continue development efforts to further improve the application by fixing existing bugs and adding new features. Stay tuned...


Group chat

It took us slightly longer, but group chat is finally here.  If you have an iPhone, BlackBerry or Android phone, simply upgrade to version 2.6 of our software to enjoy group chat.  If you have a Nokia Symbian S60 phone, we are working on adding group chat to our Symbian client and hope to release it shortly.

Here are a few important notes on group chat:

  • currently group chat is limited to 5 people.  in the future we will increase this limit.
  • you can exit a group chat that you are in at any time.  simply delete the group conversation from the main Chats window to do that.
  • you can control group chat alerts and notifications separately from individual messages.

we are continuing to work on adding more cool group chat features and fixing bugs...  if you have any group chat feedback, let us know.

- WhatsApp Team


iPhone 2.5.12: the extra mile

A couple months ago Apple published "App Store Review Guidelines" document. At the bottom of this document it said:

Above all else, join us in trying to surprise and delight users. Show them their world in innovative ways, and let them interact with it like never before. In our experience, users really respond to polish, both in functionality and user interface. Go the extra mile. Give them more than they expect. And take them places where they have never been before. We are ready to help.

Well, our 2.5.12 version does just that: it goes that extra mile. You will not find any new earth-shattering features in this release but we went over every single existing feature in the application and tried to improve it even more. So here is what is coming in 2.5.12 after Apple approves it:

  • Message history search: every wanted to search your conversation history by keywords?  now you can.
  • Copy image from clipboard: you can now paste images into the text input box.
  • Scroll bounce inside of the text input box now works.  This is a very minor detail but it was important for us to get it right and this also fixes autocorrection suggestions for Asian languages.
  • Video editing: when you try to send a video to your contact which is too long, the application will now ask you to edit and trim the video instead of just blindly tell you video can't be sent.
  • Video thumbnails: no more will you see the generic blue video thumbnail when sending or receiving videos.  We will now generate a thumbnail from the video instead of showing you the default blue thumbnail.
  • Application now dismisses Camera when moved into the background.  This is a minor detail but that is expected and correct behavior.
  • You can now Delete or Forward  individual messages without having to go into the full conversation Edit mode.  Simply tap and hold on the message bubble to get the Copy/Delete/Forward menu popup.
  • Have you ever gotten a video or audio attachment in your Email that you wanted to forward directly to a WhatsApp contact?  Now you can: simply tap and hold on the attached file in the Email app.
  • Got an iPhone 4?  We now generate high resolution thumbnails for pictures that you send to your friends.
  • This will probably affect only a very small percentage of you, but application now behaves correctly when you are running low on storage space on your iPhone and try to use Camera for video or picture.
  • Full localization updates for languages we support.
  • We fixed our contact index bar: it should now work properly with all alphabets.
  • Our audio notes recorder got two updates: retina display graphics and localization.
  • You can now cancel multimedia during upload or download by pressing on the (X) button in the transparent progress indicator bar.
  • We spent A LOT of time trying to improve our networking code.  You should see drastic improvements in that area (especially if you use Wi-Fi)
  • We added Dutch localization to this release.
  • You can now preview pictures before sending them. No more sending the wrong picture by mistake.
  • We made rotation from Landscape to Portrait (and from Portrait to Landscape) work much faster.

We worked hard on the 2.5.12 version to bring you our most polished release to date.  We hope you will enjoy it.