WhatsApp Encounters Outage

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Instant messaging app WhatsApp on Wednesday encountered an outage with users across the globe reporting problems opening the service. Issues with the Facebook-owned app, which is used by 1 billion people worldwide, included sending and receiving messages and logging in, the Independent reported. According to monitoring website Down Detector, hundreds of people complained about the outage from Malaysia to Spain, which appeared to have started on late Wednesday evening.

Some users took to Twitter, threatening they would migrate to rival messaging services because of the second outage in as many weeks. “Around half of complaints (56 per cent) this time around were related to connection issues, while 32 per cent of those who logged problems with the site said they were having trouble receiving messages,” Down Detector noted.

WhatsApp Makes Changes In Its Privacy Stance

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Popular messaging service WhatsApp said it would start sharing users’ phone numbers with parent Facebook Inc, marking a prominent shift in its stance on privacy. When Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014, founder Jan Koum vowed to protect data of its users, saying the deal would not affect its privacy policy. The change in policy, WhatsApp’s first since the deal, will permit for more relevant advertisements and friend recommendations on Facebook, according to a WhatsApp blog post.

WhatsApp, however, sought to assure users by saying that it would not sell, share, or give users’ phone numbers to advertisers. The company also maintained that messages on the service were encrypted by default and that it would not permit banner advertisements from third parties. “Our belief in the value of private communications is unshakeable,” WhatsApp said in the post. Koum had outlined his approach to privacy in a blog post after the deal with Facebook, drawing on his own experiences of growing up in Ukraine during the Soviet era.

Indian WhatsApp Competitor Hike raises Rs 1169 Cr

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Instant messenger app Hike announced that it raised financing of over 175 million led by Chinese company Tencent Holdings and Taiwanese electronic manufacturing company Foxconn Technology Group. This has led to the value of the company amounting to close to around 1.4 billion, with existing investors Tiger, Bharti and SoftBank also participating in this round.

“Tencent and Foxconn both have pedigrees that speak for themselves and such investment shows the strong foundation on which Hike is being built. The new fund-raise is going to permit us to push Hike to greater heights and invest in areas that will be key to our long-term vision and success,” said Hike Founder and CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal at an event held here. This is the fourth venture capital round and the major to date for Hike, taking the total investment to over more than 250 million.

WhatsApp Brings Voicemail and Call Back Features

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In July, reports pointed out how developers seemed to be burning the midnight oil with a string of feature updates for WhatsApp including voicemail and Call Back. It was available for Android in the beta mode. Both these features are now officially available on Android and iOS.

For the new features, Android users will have to update to version 2.16.229 and iOS users to 2.16.8. Users can then leave a voice message in case the recipient doesn’t answer the call. For example, they will find three options – Cancel, Call Back and asking to leave a Voice Message.

WhatsApp To Withdraw Support For Symbian And Blackberry Devices

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WhatsApp is stopping support for all Symbian, Nokia S40, BlackBerry phones. Phones running older versions of Windows, Android and iOS operating systems will also not be supported. The shutdown of the service for these devices and platforms will happen at the end of the year, December 2016. 2016 is the year smartphone shipment is predicted to overtake feature phone shipments in India. WhatsApp’s intentions to discontinue service on dying platforms were known since March, now we have a date.

For those holding out on using a smartphone, withdrawal of support of this service will be a harsh blow. WhatsApp is one of the most critical apps on Symbian S60 devices right now, along with maps, music player and email. It is one of the cheapest modes of communication accessible on these devices. WhatsApp offers end to end encryption on these feature phones as well. After December 2016, users who want to continue to use WhatsApp will be forced to upgrade to a device that supports a newer version of Windows, Android or iOS.