The recent WhatsApp ‘Status’ update, which saw the text-based status replaced by a clone of Snapchat Stories, received instant backlash from several users. In an attempt to placate its users, the Facebook-owned company announced that it will be bringing back the text-based status feature. Its image-based replacement will continue to exist in the messaging app.
The revived text status feature appeared in WhatsApp’s latest Android beta version 2.17.95 last week, according to a report by Gadgets 360. It is expected to be made available for all Android devices in the coming week, and a rollout for iOS devices will follow shortly.
WhatsApp users will once again be able to set a text status in the ‘About’ section of the app. The ‘Contacts’ tab (which was replaced by a tab for the new ‘Status’ feature) will not be making a reappearance, however, and users can only view others' text statuses by opening their contact when starting a new chat thread or looking at group chat information.
WhatsApp explained the latest update in a statement to TechCrunch:
“We heard from our users that people missed the ability to set a persistent text-only update in their profile, so we’ve integrated this feature into the ‘About’ section in profile settings. Now, the update will appear next to profile names anytime you view contacts, such as when creating a new chat or looking at Group info. At the same time, we’re continuing to build on the new Status feature that gives people fun and engaging ways to share photos, videos and GIFs with their friends and family throughout their day.”
Sharing images, videos, and GIFs that disappear after 24 hours is a feature that was debuted by Snapchat, which recently held its IPO. But Facebook and its associated companies have blatantly claimed it for their own; Instagram was the first platform to copy it and it did so without even changing the feature's name. The move dealt a severe blow to Snapchat, stealing a large chunk of its user base.
While Instagram's adoption of the feature was indifferently accepted by its users, the same cannot be said for WhatsApp. The billion-plus users of the messaging app had developed a fondness for its simplicity and no-frills UI/UX. But the new image-based ‘Status’ feature was a departure from this experience and was largely viewed as Facebook's attempt to convert WhatsApp into a more social media-like platform which would soon allow brands to advertise on it.
Meanwhile, Facebook has finally added the same ‘Stories’ feature to its own app, intensifying its offensive against Snapchat. Disappearing ‘Stories’ are now incorporated into all of Facebook's subsidiaries, with the parent company now accompanying Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp in using the feature.