WhatsApp earlier this month released a year-end review of 2021 to give us a flashback on all the highlights of the Meta-owned instant messaging app. The year-end review includes all the new features and services WhatsApp offered in India throughout 2021. WhatsApp’s year began with the instant messaging app embroiled in controversy regarding its updated policy and terms of service. The instant messaging app was also used by many governments and civic bodies to provide COVID-19 related information and resources to citizens. WhatsApp also allowed users to book COVID-19 vaccines via the app.
Apart from essential services, WhatsApp also introduced many features for Indian users including View Once for media files, encrypted backups, and more. WhatsApp also finally launched the payments feature that had been in beta since a very long time before 2021. Let us take a look at what all the Meta-owned instant messaging platform gave us throughout this year:
INITIATIVES TO HELP FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19
As the second wave in India wreaked havoc during April-May, 15 state governments launched dedicated COVID-19 helplines on WhatsApp to provide access to resources and vaccination bookings. Central and state administrations also used the WhatsApp Business platform to connect with citizens and drive COVID-19 vaccinations.
The MyGov Corona Helpdesk chatbot that the central government had launched back in 2020 was also updated this year to offer features including COVID-19 vaccine appointment bookings and certificate downloads.
FEATURES TO IMPROVE USER EXPERIENCE
This year, WhatsApp brought us many new features that made the experience better and more safe. In terms of safety, WhatsApp brought the View Once option for disappearing photos and videos that the receiver can only see once. The company also brought a Disappearing Mode with multiple durations to help provide additional privacy to users. The app also added the ability to report specific messages (Message Level Reporting) to let users report accounts by flagging just one message. Apart from all this, WhatsApp brought encrypted chat backups to enhance user safety.
In terms of improving the user experience, the Facebook-owned instant messaging app brought features like Desktop calling, Archive 2.0, ability to join group calls, and cross-platform migration, meaning that it is easier to transfer your WhatsApp data from Android to iPhone and vice versa. The company also launched several new sticker packs, a media editor on the web, and stickers in status throughout 2021.
WHATSAPP PAYMENTS UPDATES
WhatsApp payments also received a list of updates this year. One of them was a new payment shortcut that is available across platforms. This shows a rupee sign in the text box, right next to the paperclip option for attachments. WhatsApp also brought Stickers in Pay Mode and cashbacks to convince more users in the country to pay using WhatsApp. WhatsApp also enabled the camera icon on its app to scan QR codes to effectively provide access to over 20 million QR-enabled stores in the country. WhatsApp also said that it started a pilot programme in 500 villages across Karnataka and Maharashtra to onboard the next 500 million Indian users to the digital payments ecosystem.
WHATSAPP BUSINESS UPDATES IN 2021
The most recent one here is that WhatsApp announced that it is partnering with Uber to give Indian users the ability to book a cab straight from WhatsAp. Apart from this, Bharat Petroleum used WhatsApp Business to launch its chatbot called Urja that will help provide self service experiences for B2C and B2B use-cases.
WhatsApp claimed that its Business app has been used by more than 15 million small and micro businesses. WhatsApp also tied up with the trade union Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). The partnership will help women farmers from Kashmir to sell thousands of kilograms of apples and cherries to customers in Gujarat.
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