What WhatsApp is and How Its Messaging Works

Last updated: April 21, 2017 - 4:06pm EDT

Instant messaging is probably the most popular way for people to communicate nowadays. Lots of people prefer the convenience of online instant messaging over e-mails or phone calls, especially if it’s just to say a few words. You’ve probably used different online messaging tools before, but if you haven’t, you should definitely give it a try!

In this article, we’ll tell you about an instant messaging application that you can use on your mobile phone. It’s called WhatsApp. WhatsApp has a lot of cool features, so we want to let you in on how great it is! Now, let’s talk about what exactly it is, how it works, and go over some of the app’s features.

What is WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is a multi-functional communication app for your mobile phone. As long as you and other people you know have the app, you can use it to exchange text messages, pictures, videos, audio messages, phone calls, and more... all without having to buy a texting plan or extra phone minutes!

How does WhatsApp work?

WhatsApp uses the Internet data connection through your phone to allow you to send messages to your family and friends. If you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network, it won’t use up your data plan. You can use the app to send text, picture, and audio messages, and make calls, all for free! How great is that?

WhatsApp chat screen

5 great features of WhatsApp

1. Connect with contacts on WhatsApp without the time and hassle of adding each person individually.

WhatsApp automatically detects people in your phone's address book who are already using the app, so you don't have to manually add them as contacts. However, you can also invite people who don't have WhatsApp yet, as well as people you know who aren't in your address book but who might be using it.

Add WhatsApp contacts

2. Multiple options for methods of communication.

WhatsApp has lots of different ways for you to make sure what you're trying to communicate reaches your audience.  Write a text message, take a picture, record an audio or video message, have a phone call – it's up to you!

Send messages on WhatsApp

3. Be part of a team with WhatsApp group chats.

You can create custom groups in WhatsApp and swap comments, updates, and ideas with up to 100 other people at once! It's great if you have a very close-knit group of friends who use WhatsApp, or are part of a business team and need to collaborate.

Start a WhatsApp group chat

4. Simple options to search through your messages.

Looking for a contact or an important message that you sent or received? The app lets you search by keyword, by a group or contact's name, or even by a contact's phone number. You can also search for keywords inside a particular conversation!

Search through WhatsApp for messages and contacts

5. Easily back up your messages to your device or Google Drive.

WhatsApp allows you to save a copy of your message history to your phone's internal memory storage, or even to Google Drive (if you have a Google account). If you ever lose important messages -- or WhatsApp itself -- simply re-install the app, and all of your messages will be waiting for you!

Back up WhatsApp messages

Is WhatsApp safe?

Yes, WhatsApp is safe to use. It won’t store your personal information, and only people you’ve approved as contacts will be able to message you. This makes it safer than most social networking sites. If someone is bothering you, you can block them. If you see someone breaking the rules, you can report them. To learn more about the safety of WhatsApp, check out our article on WhatsApp safety and security.

How much does WhatsApp cost?

Yes, WhatsApp is free to use. Previously, the app cost 99 cents per year, but since then, the service has become free to use. Instead, they now offer the app to download and use for free, but this only allows users access to all of the basic features. To get more features, users can pay subscription fees. Learn more about the potential costs associated with WhatsApp by checking out this article, which also explains how the company makes money.

Pros and Cons of WhatsApp

Some great things about WhatsApp are that it’s free to use, it’s available on multiple devices, and that it gives you many options and ways to communicate with your contacts. It helps you save money by giving you a way to communicate with people for free rather than needing to add additional texting plans or minutes for phone calls to your mobile plan.

On the negative side, WhatsApp is designed for mobile devices, so while it’s accessible on a computer, it doesn’t work as well as it does on smart phones or tablets. Also, group messages can kind of cancel out privacy settings – even if you have someone blocked on WhatsApp, they could still be part of a group message that you’re included in.

WhatsApp alternatives

If WhatsApp doesn’t sound like it’s quite right for you, don’t worry. There are some other messaging apps that you can try out instead. One of WhatsApp’s biggest competitors is an app called Kik, which is also free to use. Another messaging app with tons of cool features is WeChat. If you’re looking for an app to use primarily for voice and video calls, Google Hangouts is also great option.

You can learn more about all of these apps and websites if you read our WhatsApp alternatives article here.

 

Those are just a few of the neat things that WhatsApp can do! Check out the rest of our free WhatsApp course to learn more, like how to sign up for an account, and how to use the messaging app!

Mark_complete_lg

More WhatsApp Tutorials

See all 14 WhatsApp tutorials
Mark_complete_sm Back_to_course

Support TechBoomers

TechBoomers offers free articles that teach people how to use technology to make their lives easier (and more fun!). To support our work, some of our content contains links to websites that pay us affiliate commissions when our users visit them through us and make purchases. Learn more about how this works.

Did you learn what you wanted to?

Was something in this tutorial missing, confusing, or out of date? Or did it give you all the information you needed, and you just want to say "thanks"? We'd love to hear what you thought!