WhatsApp is an application for messaging available for smartphones, developed in the year 2009. Apart from text messaging, users can also send pictures, video as well as audio messages. You can install WhatsApp in Android phones and BlackBerry as well as the iOS. It is also available for Windows Phones and for Symbian. In fact, it has been touted that what WhatsApp has done to SMS on mobile phones can be compared to what Skype did to calls made internationally from landlines. That is, it killed the business. Today, it is estimated at having about 500 million users all over the world.
WeChat is also an application for text and voice messaging on mobile phones, developed by Tencent, a Chinese company. The app can be downloaded for all the above-mentioned platforms and offers support for several languages, such as English and Chinese as well as Portuguese, Thai and Russian. The estimated number of users is about 300 million.
WhatsApp is surely becoming a ‘must have’ for all smartphone users, but there are a number of issues dogging it, which makes one wonder whether WeChat is the better option. If you are concerned about your privacy, WhatsApp is just not for you. All your contacts can know whether you are online or offline. In fact, it also tells your contacts the time that you were last seen, which many users might find annoying. Another problematic feature is that WhatsApp informs you that your message has been delivered, by showing tick marks against the message. If there is no response from the other party, your natural conclusion is that the receiving party has ignored you. This could lead to problems and could even break a sensitive relationship. On the other hand, WeChat offers greater privacy, keeping in mind the above concerns, and does not offer these telltale features.
Logout Facility in WeChat
Another benefit in using WeChat is that you can ‘logout’ whenever you want. In case you are busy and you don’t want to answer messages, you can just sign out, even if you are actually online. On the other hand, you cannot do this on WhatsApp. Of course, you can always shut down your Internet connection and go offline, but you’ll be missing your mails and other services as well in the bargain. Again, another privacy problem is that anyone who has your phone number can send you a message and you might be at a loss to know who the sender is. In fact, it is quite common to find many users asking the question, ‘who are you’ in response to messages from a number, as they are completely at a loss regarding the sender’s identity. As for WeChat, you need to approve a contact before they can actually send you messages. Members are also not able to see your number in WeChat, as you can sign in for the app using a name alone.
WhatsApp Lacking in Social Features
One advantage in WhatsApp is that you can form groups, but that’s all there is to it. With WeChat, you have several other social features, such as Facebook Connect, Moments for sharing pictures and a shake feature for connecting with people from all over, just by shaking your phone. You can also chat with others who are using a PC whereas WhatsApp is limited to chatting with another person who is also on a smartphone.
Which will Prevail?
WhatsApp can be considered as the strong and quiet type, whereas WeChat is the life of a party. The former is volume driven and is simple, whereas the latter is a multifaceted app that is being fuelled further with the help of income from advertising. WhatsApp is already in a steady position, whereas WeChat has still to highlight the several interactions available. If viewers want a simple and functional app and are not too concerned about security issues, they might prefer WhatsApp. Another factor playing against WeChat is that it comes with a ‘Made in China’ tag, which might make it difficult to expand beyond the country. There are also rumors that secret Chinese agents are monitoring the messages of users and this could affect the application’s popularity. In addition, users might find WeChat a little confusing, as it goes beyond the core functionality, by offering features like Shake and Moments, whereas WhatsApp provides the more basic and reliable functions. The final outcome is yet to be seen.