This century is littered with unsuccessful or ill-advised mergers and takeovers, from AOL Time Warner to Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia.
However, occasionally tech brands hit the jackpot. Think Google buying YouTube, or Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014.
Despite the eye-watering sums involved, this was a sound investment. WhatsApp has become a dominant communications platform, beloved by young and old alike.
An intuitive interface, full message encryption and extensive emoji catalogue makes it a platform beloved by colleagues, friends, relatives and community groups alike.
Almost three quarters of UK internet users are reliant on some form of mobile messaging, and WhatsApp alone is used by over a billion people worldwide.
However, there’s more to this mobile messaging service than the sort of abbreviation-laced messages smartphones have been sending and receiving since the 1990s.
These are our tips and suggestions about achieving WhatsApp’s full potential:
Using WhatsApp safely
Turn off read receipts. Those two blue ticks confirming a message has been read occasionally reveal too much.
Sacrifice outbound and inbound read notifications by turning off Read Receipts in the Settings > Account > Privacy sub-menu.
Hide your profile photograph. There’s an easy way to prevent anyone who has your number seeing your WhatsApp profile photo.
Go to Settings > Account > Privacy > Profile Photo and choose Nobody to hide your headshot, or select My Contacts to display a photo solely to approved connections.
Deactivate Last Seen updates. It’s not always convenient (or safe) to tell everyone when you last logged onto WhatsApp.
The Last Seen update can be turned off in the Privacy menu, either for everyone or just for people who aren’t already among your connections.
Access WhatsApp through a desktop portal. If your phone is lost, stolen, broken or about to be replaced, it’s useful to maintain channels of communications.
The WhatsApp.com desktop site supports messaging through a keyboard and full-size screen, as does the BlueStacks smartphone mirroring platform.
Using WhatsApp groups
Silence group notifications. Incessant group message notifications can be distracting, triggering anxiety and the modern phenomenon of FOMO.
Tap a group chat’s name and Mute Notifications for anywhere from eight hours to a year. Content still displays if you click into the group, but new messages won’t sound an alarm.
Create Android desktop notifications for particular groups. If one group has particular importance, Android device owners can create a desktop shortcut to it.
Hold your finger on the chat until a green tick appears, choose Add Chat Shortcut from the drop-down menu, and position the icon on your device’s desktop screen.
Set specific group chat notifications. Some updates are more valuable than others, and distinctive audio alerts demonstrate which conversation new messages belong to.
Go into each chat, tap the name at the top to display Group Info, and then choose Custom Notifications to specify which audio accompaniment new updates should trigger.
Reply to specific messages. Avoid cross-purposes in fast-moving group chats by quoting previous messages in each reply.
Swipe right on a message to quote it in iOS, or press and hold on Android before choosing Reply. The quoted text will be previewed, so everyone knows what your comments relate to.
General tips for using WhatsApp
Dictate messages through Google and Siri. Few people know it’s possible to instruct WhatsApp through Apple’s Siri or Google’s eponymous voice assistant.
While your phone is in listening mode, say “send a WhatsApp to [contact name]”, dictate the message, and then say either “send” to dispatch it or “change” to edit the text.
Bookmark valuable messages. Some messages might be needed for future reference, like directions or instructions.
Messages can be tagged with a star icon by double-tapping on iOS, or holding the message down on Android. Choose Starred Messages from the drop-down top menu to see them all.
Format text. Add emphasis to text with basic word processing formatting.
Put text in bold by bookending it with asterisks, italicise it with underscores, and use the tildes symbol (~ ) immediately before and after specific text to add a strikethrough effect.
Delete a message. Messages sent in haste can be erased at leisure by pressing and holding a specific comment and then selecting the dustbin icon.
The post will be replaced by a placeholder reading “This message was deleted”, alongside your name and number.