Latest WhatsApp Android Update Has Something for Everyone

Latest WhatsApp Android Update Has Something for Everyone

Understanding that Android apps do not perform equally across all Android devices, countries, and carriers, Facebook released Facebook Lite—a stripped down application with the essential functions and features from the standard Facebook Android app about a month ago—in efforts to expand to emerging markets globally. From M2 Mobile Insights' previous post on Facebook Lite, we saw that Facebook saw a favorable increase in user engagement in emerging markets by reducing the app’s resource consumption in terms of mobile data usage, battery drain, along with other key metrics in Facebook Lite. With Facebook Lite experiencing a positive feedback, Facebook continued a similar solution and pushed out a lite version update for one of Android’s most popular cross-platform messaging apps, WhatsApp.

Low-end Android devices and slower carrier networks that are available in developing countries can often limit users due to their lower performance capacities. In developed markets such as the United States, the average Android user consumes 44 MB per day. Users in developing markets such as Brazil and India consume only 5.86 MB and 16.50 MB of data per day, respectively. Lower data usage in emerging markets is marked by costly, limited data plans. Surprisingly, Germany, a developed market, consumes incredibly less data on average than developed markets (i.e. United States) and developing markets (i.e. India).

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WhatsApp’s updated lite version 2.12.194 included new features such as marking messages as unread, Google Drive backups, and an option to include custom notifications for specific people. All of the extra functionalities point to a higher mobile data usage, which is non-beneficial for users with limited data plans and/or for users in emerging markets such as India and Brazil where mobile data is not readily available. So where exactly does the ‘lite’ aspect play in?

When WhatsApp introduced the voice calling (VoIP) feature in March of this year, users were met with increased data drainage; more-so for users in developing markets who have limited and slow data plans. The last new feature in WhatsApp’s v2.12.194 update solves this issue by providing an option for users to enable a low data usage function for voice calls.

With the option to lower data usage on WhatsApp’s voice calls, developing markets such as India and Brazil saw a significant decrease in data consumption. India saw the greatest decline in mobile data usage, consuming 308% less data when using v2.12.194 and newer updates compared to v2.12.194 and older updates . Brazil experienced a 190% decrease in average mobile data consumption per day since the recent update than before the update.

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Meanwhile, in more developed markets such as Germany, we saw the opposite outcome—users consumed more data when updating to WhatsApp v2.12.194 and newer than on older versions. The higher mobile data usage in Germany from users utilizing the most recent WhatsApp update could be attributed to the new features in v2.12.194, specifically Google Drive backups, and users not enabling the low data usage for voice calls since users in developed markets have more readily available mobile data at their disposal.
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WhatsApp’s most recent app update caters to both the developed mobile market and emerging mobile market. By providing an option for users to opt for a low data consumption VoIP while also providing users with more advance features, WhatsApp makes it possible for users in both developed and emerging markets to enjoy new features and optimize their data plans.

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