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Perhaps you are already an avid WhatsApp user or perhaps you’ve been curious about WhatsApp. Maybe you have even been hearing about WhatsApp Plus and you’re wondering, “What’s up with that?” If you don’t have WhatsApp, you might be looking at WhatsApp Plus and thinking to yourself, “It has a plus. It must be the better version…” It’s a legitimate thought. You should always ask questions about the apps you choose to utilize. We are here to dispel myths, cut through the noise, and tell you everything you need to know about WhatsApp Plus. Things are not always what they seem.
I had a stick of CareFree gum, but it didn’t work. I felt pretty good while I was blowing that bubble, but as soon as the gum lost its flavor, I was back to pondering my mortality. — Mitch Hedberg
WhatsApp Plus — Everything You Need to Know
There are reportedly nearly 1 billion people in the world using the popular messaging app WhatsApp (as of September 2015 over 900 million). If those 1 billion people are wrong, they don’t want to be right! So, what’s the deal? That many people might know what’s up. Or rather, WhatsApp. *cue cymbal crash* So, before we get to that whole WhatsApp Plus thing, we want to make sure y’all are up to speed on WhatsApp and why you might think about using this nifty app.
WhatsApp — The Real Deal
WhatsApp Inc. is the brainchild of two guys who worked for Yahoo! Inc. for a hot minute. But not just any two ordinary guys; according to their own bio on whatsapp.com, Brian Acton and Jan Koum are “two guys who spent combined 20 years doing geeky stuff at Yahoo! Inc. before starting WhatsApp Inc.” We’re so thankful for guys & gals who do geeky stuff! They founded WhatsApp, Inc. in early 2009 and the story goes the name is after that phrase humans love to use to inquire as to each other’s situations: “What’s up?” See, we are human, too.
Anywho, WhatsApp had some hiccups in the beginning, but was one of the first instant messaging apps out there. It was exclusive to iPhone for the first couple of months, but then expanded to Android. WhatsApp went to a paid version early on, but it’s so great, people are willing to pay. The app was bought by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion (what!?) and is still going strong, clearly.
Here’s what makes WhatsApp the app that makes the kids say, “It’s what’s up!”
- It only costs $0.99 (read that ninety-nine US cents) a year. The first year is FREE!
- It uses the internet to send messages, so no paying for SMS.
- It’s available for iPhone, Android, Nokia, Blackberry, Windows; a.k.a. all the major phones out there.
- AND all of those phones can message each other. So, if you’re using the iPhone version, you’re not locked in to talking only with other iPhone users.
- It allows users to send instant messages, videos, pictures & make phone calls.
- It is AGAINST advertising (and actively avoids it; check out this blog). This is a large reason why it has switched to a paid model (and also a large reason why we’re okay with the paid model). Think about it, how annoying is it when someone sends you a video or something, but you have to watch a commercial before you can see that video. Or else, when you have a persistent ad right there under the SEND button, so that one misplaced thumb later and you’ve just bought two dozen PooTraps.
- WhatsApp Web! That would be all we would say, but for those who don’t know, WhatsApp released a web version! We’ve written several articles on “how to get such and such on your PC,” and they all involve Bluestacks or Andyroid or ManyMo. BUT WhatsApp has heard the call of the masses. We want to be able to choose from what device we message from and if we pay for an app, we want the option to use it on our PC.
- Finally, WhatsApp is awesome just by its sheer numbers. Globally speaking and if you’re a traveller, WhatsApp is the cheapest way to keep in touch with lots of people who use lots of different devices across a lot of different countries.
So that’s WhatsApp. And that’s what’s up. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
Now, onto WhatsApp Plus (or you may have seen it as “WhatsApp +” or even recently “WhatsApp Plus Reborn”).
WhatsApp Plus — What’s Up with That?
So, WhatsApp Plus is a little misleading on the surface. They use the phrase “mod” when referring to their relationship to WhatsApp, meaning they modified the original. But don’t be fooled. You’ll see this all the time on various app stores, something lis listed as a mod, or even a “manager” for another app. Time and time again, we have advised caution when it comes to third-party apps that require access to your social media accounts. It’s dodgy at the best of times. But it’s particularly sketchy here, as the name and branding suggest that there is some legitimacy to the new app; that this is just an extension of the WhatsApp service. However, there is no relationship.
Let me repeat that on a separate line for emphasis: there is no professional relationship between WhatsApp and Whatsapp +.
Here’s everything you need to know about WhatsApp Plus:
- Rolled out in 2012 by a Spanish developer called Rafalense.
- Icon is the same, only instead of green, it’s blue.
- Not available on official phone app stores, only third-party websites and stores (always sends up a red flag). This means that it isn’t even available to you unless you’ve jailbroken your phone.
- In order to become a WhatsApp Plus user, you had to first uninstall the original WhatsApp.
- It’s free.
- Has all the same features as WhatsApp, although several have been improved upon, such as loads more emoji, bigger size file sharing, more theme and color options, and the ability to hide your online status.
Now, we know that Facebook owns WhatsApp, so you know they would not let this go on for too long. In early 2015, WhatsApp Plus received a cease and desist letter, according to one of the third-party communities that supported it. And on January 21, 2015, WhatsApp started a 24-hour ban for users who had used WhatsApp Plus after using WhatsApp. So that if you violated WhatsApp’s terms and conditions by using WhatsApp Plus, you couldn’t get on WhatsApp for 24 hours. Just a little slap on the wrist for those who strayed.
Now if you’re like us, and are interested in the history of software development, you have mixed feelings about WhatsApp Plus, and (more pointedly) WhatsApp’s reaction to WhatsApp Plus. I mean, historically, a lot of great developments and advancements to technology have come about because people played around with the hardware and software of pre-existing products (without permission) and made something new. In short, they hacked. After all, Super Missile Attack and Ms. Pacman both came about because a group of enterprising MIT students played around with the circuit boards for Missile Command and Pacman (respectively). And while they originally got hit with a cease and desist order, their excellent programming skills ended up getting them a two-year contract with Bally/Midway, NAMCO, and Atari. Because they didn’t just rehash they original game, making a cheap clone of Pacman. Ms. Pacman was a marked improvement on the original: it had better AI for the baddies and variable maps — so instead of endlessly running around the same map over and over again until you hit the kill screen (as in Pacman), there was a little variety from level to level. These changes would expand throughout the video game industry, creating new standards that enriched gaming as a whole. And all because the group that became GCC hacked the originals.
Pictured: Hacking History
And, in principle, knowing this, I almost want to support WhatsApp Plus. After all, it isn’t just a clone of WhatsApp, but it incorporates several really great improvements to the WhatsApp experience. But I can’t just bring myself to do it. Because while the principles are the same, the context is different here, and different in a way that shouldn’t be immediately dismissed. When GCC hacked Missile Command, the result was just a game cabinet. It takes up space in an arcade or a 7-11, but that’s it. Whereas an app on your phone, especially a jailbroken phone, could be malicious. Whether we’re using two-stage authentication, or are using our bank’s dedicated app, we depend on the security of our phones. Now, I am not saying that there is necessarily anything compromising about WhatsApp Plus (I honestly don’t know). But other apps out there, especially the jailbreak-only apps, might have more behind them than just a love of coding. Unless a hacked Missile Command cabinet is located in your bank, with a camera focused on your ATM codes, a hacked cabinet isn’t a threat to anybody other than Bally/Midway.
A lot of that is just my opinion (welcome to blogs), but the bottom line is this: practice caution; product integration forces us to be much more cautious about our relationship to technology.
Clearly, we love WhatsApp and think it’s pretty awesome. We couldn’t recommend WhatsApp Plus because we don’t want you, our readers, to partake in illegal and potentially dangerous apps. The danger comes from downloading and using your personal information for apps which may not be trustworthy or don’t have the security (or the funding to support security) like legit apps.
So, after January 2015, WhatsApp Plus went away…for a while. It appears to have resurfaced, maybe some time in the summer of 2015. If you come across WhatsApp Plus or WhatsApp + or WhatsApp Plus Reborn, our advice is to steer clear. But if you’re really interested, our next piece of advice is to proceed at your own risk.
But I’m interested in what you have to say about this: What are your thoughts and/or experiences with WhatsApp and WhatsApp Plus? Feel free to mention them in the comments.