WhatsApp will be getting rid of its $1 (approximately Rs. 68) annual subscription fee this year. The widely used messaging app confirmed plans to ditch annual fee from all of its apps across various platforms over the next several weeks.
Until now, WhatsApp asked some users to pay an annual fee for using the app after the first year of use – though as many of us have experienced, most users were not asked to pay after a year, and instead were given extensions each year. The company however believes that the approach of annual fee hasn’t worked successfully.
“Many WhatsApp users don’t have a debit or credit card number and they worried they’d lose access to their friends and family after their first year. So over the next several weeks, we’ll remove fees from the different versions of our app and WhatsApp will no longer charge you for our service”, says the company in an official blog post.
While confirming plans to axe the annual subscription, the company also hinted that the app is now being used by “nearly a billion people around the world.” Unfortunately, WhatsApp has not officially revealed the exact number of users worldwide like it did before. To recall, the popular instant messaging app reached over 900 million monthly active users milestone back in September last year.
Apart from scrapping the annual fee, WhatsApp also revealed its upcoming plans where it wants people to connect with businesses and organisation directly. The messaging service plans to bring tools for the new target audience. WhatsApp believes people can communicate with the bank or any other utility services directly via the messaging app. “We all get these messages elsewhere today – through text messages and phone calls – so we want to test new tools to make this easier to do on WhatsApp,” adds the company.
WhatsApp for now has not detailed the tools it will be testing for bringing businesses and organisation closer to its users but we can expect to hear more soon. The company alongside also stressed that removing annual fee will not mean WhatsApp will introduce third-party ads.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) militant group has reportedly created an encrypted Android messaging app to enable secure communications between its members. Dubbed Alrawi, the app aims to make it harder for security agencies and governments to intercept the communications of Isis members.
The app, first discovered by counterterrorism network Ghost Security Group, is not available to download from the Google Play store. Instead, it requires an Isis supporter to download the app’s apk code and sideload it on their Android device. Last year, Ghost Security Group uncovered Amaq Agency, another app by Isis that was used to send its members news and recruitment information.
“The application’s primary purpose is for propaganda distribution. Using the app you are able to follow the most recent news and video clips.” Ghost Security representatives told tech blog Defense One. The group has been found of releasing a booklet that provides a list of things that their supporters are supposed to do or not do. The booklet apparently also includes a list of tools that can help them securely converse with other followers.
Isis uses a range of media to spread its propaganda to its followers, which has made it harder for theFBI and other government-run organisations from tracking them. Thousands of Isis-related accounts were found and were taken down on Facebook and Twitter last year. Following the crackdown last year, the group made public groups on Telegram. The popular messaging service later removed Isis-related channels amid terrorist attacks in Paris.
The hacktivist group Anonymous is also after Isis, having declared “war” against them last year. The group also started a campaign last year to troll jihadists online.