How WhatsApp replaced SMS?

Image by https://unsplash.com/@_giri_

What is WhatsApp?

Short-history of text communication

Why WhatsApp?

  1. To use Whatsapp, it requires the person’s contact number, which is used a lot in India
  2. Uses very less internet data unlike SMS which is used for text communication without internet data
  3. Shows the state of the message (sent, received, read) and the availability of the person at the time (last seen), enabled feedback in a very small area but had a very large impact
  4. This is something that might not be noticed while using different communication platforms but everyone has a different feel and goals for the communication. Whatsapp brings a very personal & home feel. Gmail, Hangouts, iMessage, etc, have work-related vibes. It also has this feature where you can change your background image for the chat room, which makes it really personal. It doesn’t use blue or vibrant colours for messages, but very subtle white and green.

How did we get to know about WhatsApp?

In SMS, this pop-up meant that the message has been sent

When & How do we use it?

Channels

  • 1:1 Conversations — When you’re talking to one contact, this could be when they’re online (Synchronous), or when they’re not (asynchronous).
  • 1:n Conversations — When you’re talking to a group of people.

How my family is using it? Why does the difference between the usage occur?

Kushal(me)

  • I started off to get updates from groups that everyone around me (mostly friends) were a part of. For e.g., class group, football club group, coaching group in 12th class (they used to update us on the classes through WhatsApp, for those who don’t use WhatsApp they would send SMS). Currently, links for the class that is currently happening are also shared.
  • One thing that’s very common among college groups is the forwarded messages about upcoming events, fests, etc. One reason behind this is also it takes only 2 taps for registering through WhatsApp, from Instagram if someone has shared it takes 2–4 taps to find the link first.

Rita

  • She’s from Haryana (state in India). My mother is a homemaker, watches Tarak Mehta ka Ulta Chashma a lot, in the morning its News so that she doesn’t miss anything that happened yesterday.
  • She doesn’t use WhatsApp at all, very rarely she actually uses it by herself. It is only there because most of her friends and people in the neighbourhood are on it. It is used to send updates to our milkman sometimes, screenshots of payments to shopkeepers (Kirana stores) & sometimes when someone has shared some contact with her and it needs to be saved in the contact list.
  • Most of the times whenever someone texts her, either we (me or my sisters) reply or she directly calls the person, without texting the reply. She love’s seeing the new updates posted by her friends, new display pictures, status, etc.
  • Conversations throughout her life has happened directly talking to the person or on-call, no waiting time for the reply
  • Doesn’t know how to use digital keyboard, requires very precise taps on the screen
  • The language barrier, we often use a mix of Hindi and English while talking to friends but our parents have never typed that language. They would either type only Hindi or only English.

Radhey Shyam

  • Takes forwarded links, information very seriously. Unlike us who first confirm it with reliable sources.
  • Conversations only in English because he don’t know how to enable or install Hindi keyboard.
  • Doesn’t likes to convey the message in multiple messages, reviews the entire message before sending it (behaviour from writing letter and emails).
  • Most of the use is to have video calls with family, send & receive work-related documents, contacts, images, etc.
  • Have never used emojis, I think this is because they have never communicated feelings over a text or visual format. If by any chance handwritten letters had a way of including emotions in them (while they were being wrote), our parents would have been masters in using digital emojis.

What is “Forward”?

Some of the usage patterns I have oberved:

  • WhatsApp prioritizes more on conversations between communities/groups because our social interactions do not always happen with one person, but mostly with a group of people. Yesterday (14th Jan), I had conversations with 2 of my contacts and in 1 group, it is definitely working and useful.
  • Whatsapp over Instagram chats — Instagram is a content creating, consuming and sharing platform. Instagram chats work like a feature to make that easier (sharing & consumption) and not to include any other apps in between. Most of the conversations of Instagram start due to some shared post, story reply, etc. On the other side, we use WhatsApp only when there’s a message sent by someone or when we want to have a conversation with someone just like phone calls, you only use it when you receive a call or when you call someone.
  • I have also used and seen people using it for taking short notes/tasks.
    How I did that? Make a group of two people and remove the other person. Now you’re the only person in the group, messages that you send are only going to be there for you. Works like a note-taking app.

Conclusion

  • WhatsApp observed our by-default behaviors and converted them in digital medium to enable scale. For ex, “Groups” came from communities, “Forward” came because we were already sharing what we got to know about something.
  • “Forward” is one of the very small features but had a very large impact on media. Instead of just calling it “Share” they researched more and gave it a very long-lasting personal touch.
  • They made communication really fast, affordable by running on very less internet data (as the average internet speed in India is 12.07 Mbps which very less than the global average of 35.26 Mbps).
  • Used phone numbers rather than email Id’s, because before email everyone had phone numbers for communication. Not everyone has an email address due to its different use case and India has 1.2 billion telephone numbers and only 317 Gmail users (number of emails is likely to be greater as average email id’s per person is less than 2).
  • Understood the need for a low cost instant messaging platform, I remember when people used to get packs for 200 messages per day. After the limit people have to wait for the next day. WhatsApp removed the limit to the number of messages.

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Kushal yadav

Kushal yadav

Art is an irresistible magnet, process of creation makes it even satisfying.

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