WhatsApp could put the brakes on Snapchat’s international growth with today’s launch of WhatsApp Status, a new tab for sharing decorated photos, videos and GIFs that disappear after 24 hours. Similar to Snapchat’s Stories feature, WhatsApp’s Status now lets people share images, GIFs and videos as a status update, all of which last for 24 hours before disappearing. It comes with an end-to-end encryption.
WhatsApp tested the feature for beta users in November 2016, and now the Status tab is rolling out worldwide on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Users can watch updates from friends and reply privately, shoot and adorn their imagery with drawings and captions and send their creations to all their contacts they’ve chosen with a persistent privacy setting. Sending media to specific friends is still done through message threads.
The new Status feature replaces WhatsApp’s old AOL Instant Messenger-style away messages. That was actually WhatsApp’s only feature when it launched almost exactly 8 years ago.