WhatsApp is an alternative to text messaging, also known as SMS. Sending messages in WhatsApp requires an internet connection and doesn't count against your text message limit, so many people use it as a tool for free, unlimited text messages. This video further clarifies the difference between WhatsApp and SMS and describes the advantages of using WhatsApp.
- [Voiceover] WhatsApp is an app for smartphones that will allow you to send text messages to another person who is also using WhatsApp. You can send simple text messages, but you can also send picture attachments, audio clips, video recordings, and you can even do audio calls. Some people that I've talked to do not immediately see the value of WhatsApp because almost all of the features that I just listed are included with standard text messages on smartphones. You may have heard the terms SMS and MMS.
SMS is an initialism that stands for Short Message Service. SMS is another name for regular text messages. MMS stands for Multimedia Message Service, which is what you call it when you send pictures, audio, or video in a text message. Most smartphone users have SMS and MMS as included features in their device and service plan. So, why would you use WhatsApp? Well, WhatsApp is not the same as SMS or MMS, it's an alternative to those services, offering almost exactly the same features, and of course some more features on top.
Now, one reason that people turn to WhatsApp is when their cellular service offers limited SMS and MMS messages each month. If you don't have unlimited messaging on your service plan and you need to send lots of messages, this can quickly become a problem. WhatsApp does everything that SMS and MMS can do and more, but the messages that you send in WhatsApp are not actually SMS or MMS messages, so they do not count against your messaging limit. WhatsApp uses your internet connection instead, so you do need to have a Wi-Fi connection or a data connection on your cellular phone service.
WhatsApp is free and you can send unlimited messages as long as you have an internet connection. Just keep in mind if your cellular plan has limited amount of data that you can send and receive, then you might hit that limit, but on a Wi-Fi connection you should never hit a limit. Another reason to use WhatsApp is to send messages internationally. For one, cellular phone contracts in Europe and other parts of the world tend to have more limitations on text messages compared to the United States.
Unlimited text messages are much more common in the US. On the other hand, data connections are less expensive and free public Wi-Fi is more common across Europe, again, compared to the United States. Also, historically, sending SMS and MMS from one country to another can sometimes be unreliable. So sending an SMS message from a phone on a service contract from one country to a phone in another country, often introduces some problems.
So, for these reasons WhatsApp has become just as common, if not more common, than simple SMS or MMS in regions like Europe, Asia, and Central America. Many people in Europe and Central America consider WhatsApp to be the standard for text messages. But Americans who don't travel internationally may not even know about it. If you are an American planning an international trip, I highly recommend getting WhatsApp set up before you leave on your trip. And if you do plan to buy a temporary cellular service plan in the country that you visit, then it's extra important to watch the movie in this course on migrating to a different phone number.
So, before we jump into learning WhatsApp, I want to finish up with a few important details. First, while it is similar to SMS and MMS, WhatsApp is a completely different service, so you will only be able to send and receive messages on WhatsApp with other people who are also using WhatsApp. Second, there are other messaging services that work similarly to WhatsApp. The iMessage service offered by Apple comes to mind. iMessage is pretty popular but only works for people using an Apple device, like an iPhone, iPad, or a Mac.
BBM, which is a service from BlackBerry is also similar but it just does not have that same widespread use as WhatsApp. Other messaging apps like Line are popular in Asia, but just keep in mind these services are not cross-compatible. Finally, like SMS and MMS, WhatsApp is tied to a specific phone and phone number. There are options for using WhatsApp on a computer or a tablet, but those features are optional add-ons to a WhatsApp account that must be tied to a phone and phone number.
You cannot set up and use WhatsApp without a valid phone number. So, I think that gives you an idea of what WhatsApp does and why people use it. Now we can jump into the rest of this course and learn how to get it set up and working.
- Adding a person to your contacts
- Sending and receiving chat messages
- Managing group conversations
- Using WhatsApp on the web or a tablet
- Accessing settings on Android and iPhone
- Migrating your account to a different phone