Enormously popular WhatsApp goes free: gains iCloud chat backups and other features

By , Jul 16, 2013

WhatsApp 2.10.1 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 001)WhatsApp 2.10.1 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 002)

WhatsApp, arguably the most popular cross-platform chatting solution, has just gone free on the App Store. We’re not sure whether the move is part of the upcoming iOS subscription switch or if there was a change of heart.

Either way, we’re not complaining. Previously a 99-cent download, WhatsApp for the iPhone and iPod touch is now provided free of charge (jump past the fold for the fine print).

In addition, the app’s been updated with the much-needed ability to back up your chats to iCloud so you don’t loose your chat history upon reinstalling WhatsApp. Other changes in WhatsApp 2.10.1 include support for URL schemes and the ability to send multiple photos at the same time…

URL scheme is a useful feature that allows WhatsApp to integrate more tightly with other third-party apps, provided you’re familiar with URL schemes in the first place.

When the App Store in May hit the 50 billionth download, Apple said WhatsApp was the sixth most popular paid iPhone app of all time, despite costing 99 cents a pop.

WhatsApp promised to detail its upcoming subscription model for new users by year’s and and if iTunes release notes are an indication, the app will be free for the first year and then cost $0.99 per year.

WhatsApp 2.10.1 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 004)WhatsApp 2.10.1 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 005)

As for iCloud support, to manually back up your chats navigate to WhatsApp Settings > Chat Settings > Chat Backup and hit the Back Up Now button. And if you want to enable the automatic backup feature, just set the Auto Backup frequency to Daily, Weekly or Monthly.

iCloud backups include media files received and sent in chats, except for videos. A word of warning:  you’d be wise to limit Auto Backup to Wi-Fi only in order to avoid unwanted cellular data usage.

WhatsApp 2.10.1 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 006)WhatsApp 2.10.1 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 007)

This has to be done outside the app so navigate to your iOS Settings > iCloud > Documents & Data and set Use Cellular Data to OFF (to disable cellular iCloud data for all apps that support it) or set just the WhatsApp entry to OFF.

So what are you waiting for?

Go grab your free copy of WhatsApp from the App Store Inc.now.

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  • Phil Randle

    Never really saw the point of whats app, for all of my friends that are iPhone users there is iMessage and for the ones that aren’t (all major carriers in Australia offer free SMS anyway) but Facebook has a huge user base and Facebook Messenger is FREE and more reliable, when I used whatsapp, sometimes it took the messages ages to come through.

    • David Villamizar

      Whats app is supposed to protect your privacy, they encrypt your messages, and they say the service core purpose is (or was…) to pay a little to avoid selling your data. The multi-platform support was the catch for users though. I think whats app supports more platforms, and better than Facebook does.

      • Kevin Guzman

        As much as I like to have privacy when it comes to personal messages, in the end, who cares? Who cares if “the government” reads my messages – there is absolutely nothing really important that needs to be private. I’m not a terrorist, nor am I developing some sort of secret technology that I need to go as far as using a separate app just so I know someone won’t get their hands on my text messages. Seriously, who cares?

      • Damian W

        agree

      • Rudy

        It’s the idea behind that !!! where is our freedom ?? what’s next ?? A chip in our head ?? What ?? A camera in our house ??

      • MarcPhilippeB

        They don’t care because you are a nobody. And you never know how it will be used against you in the future.

      • Mark

        Exactly,. I don’t really care if they’re spying my messages, emails etc for security purposes, and they’re not really interested on the content of your messages after all.

    • Kevin Guzman

      I hate Facebook, but you’re definitely right with the Messenger app. Its much more convenient since everyone I know has a Facebook. Easy to connect with others without having to have an extra app on your mobile device.

    • wadjj

      I’m in oz and I have no free SMS, I don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s far more reliable than iMessage and SMS too. FB messenger is good and I use it, but it’s a battery drainer, I’m always on the verge of uninstalling it.

  • abdullah575

    my
    Number : 0500414259 add me !!! Thanks !!

    • David Gitman

      Meh

    • Jimothy

      This just seems like a bad idea. Good thing this isn’t Reddit or 4Chan.

  • James

    What’s a URL Scheme? Y U NO SUPPORT IPAD. ef a work around I want to be able to chat on my tablet too.

    • Jimothy

      It’s only intended for iPhones. It says “NOTE: WhatsApp is a telephony application and as such iPod or iPad are NOT supported devices.”

      • Pez Tickles

        Don’t know how they can class it as a “Telephony” App when you can’t make free calls like on Viber ! (Which i think is far Better)

      • Jimothy

        I don’t know either, it just says that under app info.

      • James

        The only thing “Telephony” about it, is the fact it requires a phone #. I hope Google buys it and allows you to sign in with a screen name. Then comes the tablet version.

      • Kurt

        You used to be able to purchase it on the iPad…did it work? no, and no refund.

  • Filipe Martins

    there’s no support for the iPod Touch. only using WhatsPad, which isn’t compatible with this version, yet

  • Yassine yassine

    I just got a copy and it says: as earlier adopter, enjoy a lifetime free use. :)

    • felixtaf

      Same here.. Purchased last year.. Says lifetime in payment info…

      • Kurt

        Did you read what it says directly under that?

      • felixtaf

        Yes.. It says “Your service is attached to the number listed above. You can freely switch mobile device, reinstall or upgrade the software as long as your service number stays the same. We hope you enjoy our service”. I have two numbers registered and both are fine. Not planning to change numbers anytime soon. Changing the number may endup in paying like others. (Like you mentioned in ur next comment)…

      • Kurt

        I’ll be moving back to America in a few months and I figured I would start using Whatsapp as its popular there. Here Kakao talk obviously rules so i never use whatsapp. So i’ll have to start paying. Stinks as I’ve had it since 2009. But it’s only a buck I’ll survive

      • felixtaf

        Yeah… Really a nice messenger… 1$/yr wont kill us… I will continue to support even if i change my number… :-)

      • Kurt

        good jobby job

    • Kurt

      If you change your phone number the lifetime free use ends and you need to start paying

      • Yassine yassine

        there is a “change number” option under profile menu, i believe that it allows to attach the account to a new number.

      • Kurt

        great to know! Thanks. Hopefully it will work when I move back to the states. Seems like it should. Thanks for the heads up!

  • Jerome

    Anyone got problems post-update? Whatsapp is crashing everytime i try to get it started

    • Andy

      I’m getting this too.

      • Jerome

        I seem to be able to start up whatsapp in safe mode. I’m JB’d btw, iOS 6.1

      • Bonz08

        Same here. It only opens on safe mode. I’mJB on 6.1 as well.

      • mahe

        I’m on a jailbroken iPhone5 with iOS 6.1.2.
        It works without problems

      • Jerome

        I got rid of MessageSwiper. Everything worked fine after

      • Bonz08

        Ok. Problem solved by disabling a tweak called MessageSwiper. Hope that help.

      • Jay@Jia

        You guys are GENIUS! Thanks a lot! MessageSwiper makes an issue!

  • Rickm_jr

    So why have this to pay when Kik does the same stuff (I think for the most part) for free?

  • Africanking

    I love whatsApp. Especially if you travel a lot and want to text all your friends or your girlfriends, whatsApp does a pretty good job. Same goes to viber app.

  • Sⅈℕœ∂ℯ™

    I use WhatsApp on my iPhone & also on my iPad 4 with the help of WhatPad. And it is very stable. WhatsApp is my favorite app because of being cross-platform Its group chat is better than iMessage.

  • Najeé Mosely

    wish it was on iPod :/

  • Chee Yuyang

    so do i have to pay it if i already paid before?

    • mahe

      go into settings => Account => Billing Information

      • Kurt

        Is the lifetime service linked to your phone number?

        Edit…dang, just read that it is.

  • Kurt

    the lifetime free use is for your phone number. If you switch numbers since you move to another country, even though you are using the same phone, it looks like you need to start paying.

    • Baaji

      Really?? I am just switching to a new service provider right ? Not transferring it to a KID!

  • Jay

    Here’s the thing: whilst a dollar a year is no big deal, I had WhatsApp as an “early adopter” as they seem to be calling it now anyway, there are too many completely free alternatives. For example whilst I don’t have to pay let’s say I have friends/family who aren’t early adopters now they go look at whatsapp see the yearly subscription and immediately move to an alternative free app. At the end of the day everyone is gonna use the app that everyone else is using and obviously it makes more sense for me to move to the free one for my friends and fam instead of them moving to my one which costs them so WhatsApp is just gonna have their userbase pulled from them to the next best free alternative.

  • Joey41

    WhatsApp for the iPhone and iPod touch??

  • Kenrick Fernandes

    this is odd, and i don’t know if this is happening for me only. But whatsapp is now allowing us to select multiple photos. When i do that i can’t see my photos. Just a close button bang in the middle of the screen. I can select the photo but once selected it’s blank.