How to Install and Use WhatsApp
WhatsApp is a very popular instant messaging service that runs on many types of devices. Every day, more than a billion users exchange messages, place calls, and transmit media with WhatsApp. Some think that the best thing about WhatsApp is that it’s free, quick to set up, and easy to use. In this article, we explore the popularity of WhatsApp, its major features, how to install the app, and how to use WhatsApp.
Why WhatsApp has become so popular
At the WhatsApp launch in 2009, it was a major improvement over Skype, which itself was a good app for voice and video calls. However, Skype was built primarily for the PC and was a late-comer to mobile devices.
Another advantage of WhatsApp is that it identifies people through their phone numbers. It’s unnecessary to ask for a username. If anyone in your contacts is using WhatsApp, the app automatically detects this and you can reach that person directly.
Major features of WhatsApp
WhatsApp has a number of cool features, including voice and text messaging, free voice calls, group messages, easy handling of media attachments, chat history, transcripts, and backups.
Free voice calls
Another convenient feature of WhatsApp is the ability to make free phone calls to other WhatsApp users, either through wi-fi or a mobile data connection. This way, you can avoid consuming call time and long distance charges. It’s better to place calls through wi-fi and data connection while traveling abroad. That’s because it’s much less expensive than calling through a mobile carrier network, which can range from $0.25 to $4.00 per minute depending on your plan.
WhatsApp also includes voice and video group calls, in which you can add as many as four contacts to a single call or video chat. Keep in mind that you cannot reach emergency services through WhatsApp.
Voice and text messaging
Directly from the main screen, a user can easily engage in text or video messaging. You can view the conversations with each of your contacts. Start a new conversation at any time. The chat features includes common messaging functions, including emojis and a camera button. Quickly send your location, a message, a picture, a video, or a document. Or, tap the microphone icon to send a voice message.
It’s possible to create a group as large as 100 users, all of whom can message each other in a chatroom-style environment. The user that creates the group is the administrator. The admin has the ability to add and remove new group members, and also add new admins. You can easily catch up on group messages, and leave the group at any time. There's also a broadcast feature that functions much like blind-copy in an email message.
Easily handle media attachments
With WhatsApp, you can also attach images, voice messages, videos, and share your location details. It’s easy to configure how WhatsApp handles media files. Specifically, you can define what will happen when you are on different types of connections, such as mobile, wi-fi, or roaming. Without any changes to the settings, WhatsApp downloads all media attachments such as audio, video, and images when you're using wi-fi. It will only download images when you’re using mobile, and won’t ever download images if you’re roaming. You can change any of these download settings. Voice messages will always download automatically.
Access your account from a desktop
The WhatsApp desktop app, which is available for Windows or the Mac, enables access to your account from your laptop or desktop. Download the app to your computer, then scan a QR code with your phone (on which you’ve installed WhatsApp mobile). WhatsApp will automatically synchronize the desktop app with what is already in your WhatsApp account—including all of your conversations, contacts, and groups. From the desktop app, you can view all computers that are logged into your account.
History, Transcripts, Backups
If you need detail chat history and transcripts of your conversations, WhatsApp provides several backup and transcript features. You’ll need to enable automatic backups of your chat history, which can optionally send your media attachments to your iCloud or Google Drive account. If necessary, you can archive chat transcripts or send them through email (including any attachments).
How to install WhatsApp
Setting up WhatsApp is simple. First, download the app from your app store.
Tap the App Store icon on your phone, tap the Search icon at the bottom, enter “WhatsApp” in the field, and then tap the Search button.
Tap the Play Store icon on your phone, enter “WhatsApp” in the field, then tap WhatsApp Messenger in the list.
After the download completes, the icon should appear along with the other icons on your device. Tap this icon to open the app
Agree to give WhatsApp access to your contacts, and also agree to receive notifications.
You'll get a prompt to input your country code and phone number. WhatsApp will send a confirmation SMS message with a link. Tap the link to create your user account.
Next, you’ll need to enter your name, and optionally add your photo.
Allow WhatsApp to access the photos library on your phone, and then tap Done.
WhatsApp will automatically check which of your contacts are using the service according to the phone numbers given in your contacts list.
How to use WhatsApp
From the main screen, tap the Start Messaging link to start a new conversation, look through a summary of your calls and chats, or check out your contacts. From the list, tap one of your contacts that is already using WhatsApp.
On the messaging screen, enter a message and then tap the return button.
Invite other WhatsApp users
To add a new contact that you know is using WhatsApp, simply add the name and phone number to your Contacts. If a contact already uses WhatsApp, it will automatically detect the phone number and add that person as a WhatsApp contact.
Tap the Start Messaging link to see the list of WhatsApp contacts.
Invite others to WhatsApp
You can also invite people through a text message, email, or other chat program to download and join WhatsApp. Tap the Tell a Friend about WhatsApp link to invite another person to WhatsApp.
Video and voice chat
Tap the field just above the keyboard to begin editing a text message, then tap return to send the message.
Send a voice message by tapping-and-holding the microphone icon. Immediately speak into your microphone and then remove your finger. Simply slide your finger to the left if you want to discard your voice recording without sending it.
Contact Information and Settings
In the Chat screen, tap the contact name to view options for that contact. Here, you can restrict the type of content that is sent from this contact, search through chat history, mute the contact, and modify other settings.
Tap the Status button at the bottom of the screen to:
- Edit privacy settings
- Modify your WhatsApp availability status
- Update your app
Tap the Calls button at the bottom of the screen to make a voice call, then tap the telephone icon at the top of the screen. Choose a contact to make a call.
Send a photo or text
Tap the Camera icon at the bottom of the screen. Then, tap the circle button to take a photo, or hold the button down to take a video. For a video, simply remove your finger from the button to end capture. Tap the arrow icon to choose a contact and send your photo or video.
If you’ve come this far, then you know how to use WhatsApp. You’re now part of a very large community of WhatsApp users. Enjoy!