Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp is experimenting with a new Status feature that lets users share mood-setting pictures and videos overlaid withÂ other custom elements such as emoji, with the content disappearing 24 hours after itâs shared â so basically a copyÂ ofÂ Snapchat Stories.
The testÂ featureÂ was spotted on Friday by BGR IndiaÂ which says Status sharing isÂ only currently available to registered public beta testers of WhatsAppÂ who are usingÂ a rooted Android or iOS device.
Weâve reached out to WhatsApp with questions and will update this story with any response.
In the Android version of the beta the main WhatsApp message screen now has a tab called âStatusâ, sitting between âChatsâ on the left and âCallsâ on the right.Â And while itâs always been possible to set a status message in WhatsApp, which is visible when someone views your profile, the new Status tab does not replace that traditional status message; rather itâs a whole additional channel aimed atÂ encouraging users to share ephemeral and primarilyÂ visual content with their friends.
As with Snapchat Stories, once a user has snapped a photo or recorded a video to share within this channelÂ they are offered a range of editing tools to augment the content â such as by drawing onÂ a colorful scribble or addingÂ and positioningÂ emoji. Status also lets usersÂ add a caption to further explain whatever theyâre posting. AÂ sendÂ button shares the Status with the userâs WhatsApp contacts.
The beta app shares Status content for 24 hours, according to BGR, with no way for users to manually delete a Status after theyâve shared it at this point, nor setÂ a longer (or shorter)Â lifespan for the content. Users are able toÂ specify which of their contacts can receive Status updates â either by selecting a handful manually or choosing all and excluding a few manually (or indeed selecting all contacts to spam everyone with allÂ Status content).
Snapchat launched its Stories ephemeral timelineÂ three years ago, and the sharing feature has provedÂ hugely popularÂ â driving massiveÂ quantitiesÂ of daily video views for Snapchat (it reported 10 billion daily video viewsÂ as of this April). So itâs clear why Facebook is firing up its photocopiers.
And whileÂ itâs taken Zuck & coÂ a while to respond directly to their rivalâsÂ ephemeral sharing format, theyÂ now seem intentÂ on rolling out a clone of theÂ featureÂ across their social boardÂ â with Facebook-owned Instagram launching a near carbon copy feature, Instagram Stories, this summer; andÂ aÂ Stories clone called Messenger DayÂ also being tested on Facebook Messenger this fall.
Thatâs a massive shiftÂ for a company that had, up to then, been firmly against having adverts on its platform. Which just leaves the question of how WhatsApp willÂ integrate adsÂ into itsÂ platform without annoying users. And so enterÂ the newÂ Status channel, looking like exactly the sort of conduit where businesses on the WhatsApp platformÂ could startÂ pushing out marketing missives to users who areÂ connected with them.