The latest feature in WhatsApp brings a very different style of messaging to the world’s most popular chat app. It’s called Channels and is designed specifically for one-to-many broadcasts instead of conversations. The Meta-owned company calls it “a private way to keep track of what’s important,” and names local and sports updates among the ways you can use it.
But what is a channel really? It’s a Twitter feed, minus all the metrics and responses. WhatsApp has clearly noticed all the governments, shipping agencies, brands and others looking for a new place (and not Twitter) to share their most important updates and watch Channels. is an optional alternative.
To some extent, Channels are also a tool for creators, a place for those with an audience to “submit text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls,” according to the blog post. launch of WhatsApp. The company also plans to build other payment and monetization services into Channels. You will be able to find channels by searching for them in WhatsApp or by browsing in a newly created folder and viewing their most recent updates in the Status section of the app.
WhatsApp says privacy is an important part of the experience, which is why channel admin information is not shared and the app only stores channel history for 30 days. Admins can even block screenshots and forwards, ensuring that content in the channel stays in the channel. However, the channels are not end-to-end encrypted; they are treated more like your messages to businesses, these messages are not completely private either. But WhatsApp says it is thinking about how to encrypt some channels over time.
This is mostly a really obvious feature for WhatsApp to add. Telegram has had a similar feature, also known as Channels, and also for one-to-many broadcasts for many years. Instagram also has a similar feature, called promotion channels. And it really makes sense to include this kind of information in WhatsApp; It’s more natural to receive air quality and train status updates in a messaging app than intermingling with everything else on Twitter
But if you zoom out a bit, WhatsApp quickly turns into something more than just a messaging app. In the past few months alone, the company has allowed the use of one account on multiple phones; worked on a separate newsletter engine and a new username system; added polls and shopping and a bunch of other Facebook stuff to the platform; improve the system its Status; improve its group chats; and more. Channels are just the latest way WhatsApp is trying to bring the social network into messaging.
Like most WhatsApp features, Channels is starting out small. The company is planning to launch Channels with “top global institutions and select institutions in Colombia and Singapore,” and the feature will be available only in those two countries at first. It will come to more countries, and channel creation will be available to more users “in the coming months.”
WhatsApp is clearly still first and foremost a messaging app — billions of people use it to chat with their friends and loved ones. But when it looks like it will grow, earn more, and become the full-blown super app it wants, it’s trying to find a way to achieve more.