I’m still a bit surprised that WhatsApp won the messaging battle. It wasn’t my pick back then but its simplicity won it favour with the masses and it’s now the default messaging app.
In Zimbabwe it is not only the default messaging app, it’s also pretty much the internet. For many people it is where they get their news, entertainment, socialising and everything else one gets on the net. That’s why any changes/upgrades to the app mean so much here.
When we talk about WhatsApp getting new features that could be useful to Zimbos, some find it hard not to mention that Telegram or some other app had them ages before WhatsApp. That may be but it doesn’t move the needle one way or the other, there isn’t going to be a WhatsApp exodus any time soon.
This feature rolled out a couple of months ago but we didn’t talk about it. You now have the option to message yourself. When you choose to start a new chat you will find the option to message yourself, it’s as simple as that. Narcissist much? It’s not as weird as it sounds.
I have been using this feature more than I would like to admit. Before this feature I still messaged myself but across my two WhatsApp accounts. Why? You ask.
When I find an interesting quote or anything else mildly interesting, I message myself. I do this for stuff like a song lyric that amused me. That’s not good enough to go to my Google Keep but is good enough for a second look . So, in that sense, WhatsApp is my secondary ‘notes app.’
I am privileged to have internet access beyond WhatsApp and so I know my Google Keep notes are synced across my devices. More importantly, they are stored in the cloud for me. Now, using this ‘message yourself’ feature one can get their ‘notes’ stored in the cloud and available on multiple devices all from WhatsApp.
I know I am not the only one who has received messages in the form of ‘ignore this, I’m only saving it to WhatsApp’ from my mother. Now she doesn’t have to do this. That’s especially useful for more sensitive notes she would not want to share with me.
Send uncompressed pictures
Most times I am grateful that WhatsApp vigorously compresses photos sent via the app. That’s because the combination of cameras in our pockets and a ready way to share them has led to all sorts of unnecessary photos hitting unsuspecting inboxes.
That may be but there are times when you want to send high quality, uncompressed pictures. It’s not kind on our WhatsApp bundles but when it’s a photo you want printed out, you have to send that 4.5MB photo.
WhatsApp is working on allowing us to do just that. The feature is being tested in the Android beta app. You will get the option to send photos in their original quality.
No longer will you have to create a PDF of your photo to be able to send it in its original quality. That is the current workaround but I’ve seen it fail to work on some ‘Dubai Samsungs’. So, it should be a godsend for all.
I don’t think we will get the option to send videos in their original quality though. Compressing photos and videos does not just help us make it 7 days with a 65MB bundle, it also helps WhatsApp save on server costs.
It’s not that big of a deal for most. Very few of us ever have occasion to send high resolution videos via WhatsApp.
WhatsApp the superapp?
I think there’s still more that can be added to WhatsApp to make it truly useful as a kind of browser for Zimbos. It’s going to have to be a super app like WeChat in China. The payments features live in India and Brazil would be huge in Zimbabwe.
Granted the move to USD cash has reduced the utility of electronic payments but as we interact with businesses more and more via WhatsApp, being able to pay right from within the app would be massive.
What other features do you think WhatsApp needs to get to be truly useful in Zimbabwe?