Messaging app WhatsApp has finally gone free on iOS but will charge $0.99 after the first year. This is in line with the subscription model on other platforms like Android, Windows Phone, Symbian and BlackBerry. Though WhatsApp says it would charge after the first year of free service on all platforms, we have still not come across anyone who has had to pay and the subscription automatically recharges for free.
WhatsApp used to cost $0.99 on iOS and was constantly in the top 10 revenue grossing apps in the App Store since it launched in 2009. This is not the first time that WhatsApp is free on iOS. In December last year it was free for a limited time also.
WhatsApp recently claimed that it has over 250 million monthly active users with more than 27 billion (10 billion messages sent and 17 billion) received messages on a single day. For comparison Twitter has over 200 million monthly active users. Chinese messaging apps WeChat claims to have over 300 million active, but most of the users are present in China while the users of WhatsApp are spread more equally around the globe.
One of the reasons that WhatsApp could have finally gone free on iOS is that the $0.99 fee could have been holding back some users from emerging markets that don’t buy paid apps.
Importantly, messaging apps players like WeChat and Line have started advertising on television channels in India in a bid to draw more users. WhatsApp does not serve ads on its apps and is not known to advertize either. BlackBerry Messenger is also slated to come to Android and iOS devices within the next couple of months.
Apart from going free the iOS app also added a few features like the ability to share multiple photos together and also backup chats on iCloud. You can download the iOS app here.
Google Maps Arrives on the iPad
After being conspicuously absent on the iPad for a long time, Google has finally brought Google Maps back to the tablet. Apple had booted out Google Maps with the release of the iOS 6 last year, and replaced it with its own service which was not received well among users. Google finally released a standalone app for the iPhone a few month later much to the delight of iOS users. The Google Maps 2.0 update brings a custom interface to the iPad along with a few other feature upgrades.
In a move to bring uniformity among its apps across platforms, the Google Maps update looks identical to the Android app released last week and the revamp also improves navigation with live traffic updates and incident reports, along with indoor maps.
Google had shown off the new cleaner interface for Maps at Google I/O in May this year.