Today we released a new version of WhatsApp for iPhone. This is our first update this year and it brings a few major changes we're excited to tell you about.
First, we are updating our business model for new iPhone users going forward. As you know, we used to charge iPhone users a $.99 one time payment, while Android and other platforms had free service for the first year and paid $0.99 a year after that. From now on, we've simplified our business model so that all users on all platforms will enjoy their first year of WhatsApp service for free, and only pay $.99 per year after that. We feel that this model will allow us to become the communications service of the 21st century, and provide you the best way to stay in touch with your friends and family with no ads getting in the way. The good news for all current iPhone users is that WhatsApp will be free of charge for the rest of your life.
Second, we've added an option to backup your message history to iCloud. We spent the last six months working to make iCloud backup as simple and user friendly as possible. On your iPhone, go into 'WhatsApp Settings > Chat Settings > Chat Backup' if you want to back up your conversation history. When you reinstall the app, you will be prompted to restore from iCloud during the initialization process.
Third, since we're engineers at heart, we've introduced developer hooks into WhatsApp. We've had many other iOS developers ask us for API hooks to make interfacing with WhatsApp easy. Now you can do that. Learn more here.
That's all folks. We hope you will enjoy this new release.
Many people are asking why we've stopped supporting the iPhone 3G. It's because Apple has stopped supporting old iOS versions and old iPhones in their most recent version 4.5 of Xcode, which is the tool (the only tool) that engineers use to make iPhone apps.
The iPhone 3G has a special place for me in my heart - it was the first smartphone I bought in January of 2009 and it was the first phone on which we started developing WhatsApp just a month later.
Then as now, however, we must follow Apple's lead on all things related to the iPhone. Their pace of innovation has a price of forced obsolescence.
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?"
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.
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:
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.
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"
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
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.model: Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU X5675 @ 3.07GHz
jkb@c123$ uname -rps
FreeBSD 8.2-STABLE amd64
jkb@c123$ cat /boot/loader.conf.local
and the last important piece of our infrastracture is Erlang:
"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)
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.
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...
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
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.
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...