WhatsApp: What It Is And Why You Need It

WhatsApp?  What’s up?  WhatsApp has revolutionized international communication.  Years ago, when I would come back to the States and talk about WhatsApp, people had no idea what I was talking about.  I explained it is international texting, but also with calls and videos.  

History:  Why WhatsApp Was Created

I have always found the beginning of WhatsApp fascinating.  Not because it was such a creative invention, it was just the most practical solution to a problem I faced daily while living abroad.  I remember reading about it when it was happening also.

Jan Koum and Brian Acton had worked together at Yahoo but left in 2007 and traveled for a year in South America.  They realized how expensive and difficult it was to communicate back home, so the idea of WhatsApp was born.

Jan Koum and Brian Acton co-founded WhatsApp in 2009 as an alternative to SMS messaging.  

They wanted to create a messaging app that was simple, secure, and reliable.  

Soon, WhatsApp became a major player in global messaging. Why? Many developing countries had no cellular, prepaid, or postpaid plans, with unlimited texting. Limits on texts had always been a problem. WhatsApp solved that by being connected with messaging over the internet.

WhatsApp Timeline

In 2014, Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion.  The acquisition was controversial then, with many users concerned about the privacy implications of Facebook owning such a large messaging platform.  However, WhatsApp has maintained its commitment to user privacy, and its end-to-end encryption ensures that messages are secure and private.

Multifaceted Whatsapp

Key Feature

WhatsApp is available on iOS and Android, with over 2 billion users.

The key feature of WhatsApp is its end-to-end encryption.  This means that messages are encrypted from the moment they are sent until there are received by the intended recipient.  This ensures that messages are private and secure and cannot be intercepted by third parties.

WhatsApp a Messenger

The core purpose of Whatsapp is messaging.  It enables quick and easy sending of text messages, voice messages, photos, videos, documents, location, etc.  

WhatsApp as a Call Operator

WhatsApp negates the need for expensive international calls.  A stable internet connection allows you to voice or video chat with anyone, anywhere, through the app.

WhatsApp as a Social Platform

The group feature of WhatsApp facilitates social interactions between groups of family, friends, colleagues, clubs, etc.  Instead of having a group chat via SMS texting, it would be over WhatsApp.

WhatsApp for Business

Many businesses use WhatsApp to communicate with customers.  This is an economical way of being in contact and accessible from anywhere, anytime.  The WhatsApp chat is easy to start and keeps the conversation going.

WhatsApp Business also is a separate app designed specifically for businesses.  It includes features such as automated messages, quick replies, and the ability to create a business profile.

Pros of WhatsApp


For me, the fact that you can send someone many pictures at once has made my life easier.  As I am constantly sending my family photos and videos of where I am, I can upload many photos up at once.  Texting with my phone carrier only allows me two photos at a time, which is a lot of work!

Accessibility, No Matter Your Economic Situation 

If you are not able to get a phone plan that offers a lot of texting, as back in the day this was the case in many countries, then WhatsApp is the solution.  You are usually messaging over the internet, but nowadays, there are also plans that you can buy for WhatsApp messaging offline.

Perfect For Travel

Here is the scenario:  You arrive at the airport without being able to buy a SIM Card or much less understand how to use one.  To use the SIM card from another country or wherever, how do you call someone or send a message to the hotel where you arrived?  WhatsApp!  Many airports have internet, and getting a phone SIM card is less urgent than it once was.

Your Phone Does Not Have To Be Unlocked

Locked Phones vs. Unlocked Phones

Having a locked phone: What Does It Mean?

A locked phone is sold by a wireless carrier and restricted to that carrier's wireless network alone. Software is installed on the phone by carriers to lock phones. The phone cannot access the cellular networks of other carriers thanks to this software. A locked phone won't work even with a SIM card from a different carrier.

Because you are obligated to use your wireless carrier's network, locked phones are typically less expensive than unlocked phones. The price of unlocked phones inevitably increases because they provide you more freedom to swap carriers.

Why Is An Unlocked Phone Important for Travel?

Unlocked cell phones are not carrier-specific, which is the main distinction between them and locked phones. Any wireless network operated by a carrier can be utilized with unlocked phones.

Since contracts aren't always required with unlocked phones, changing carriers at any time is simpler. Unlocked phones, on the other hand, are typically substantially more expensive – sometimes two or three times as expensive, depending on where you buy them.

For travelers, unlocked phones are preferable. Switching the SIM card and connecting to the local network are simple processes. Depending on the kind of foreign features your plan offers, if you travel abroad with a locked phone, you can pay astronomical costs.

Cons Of WhatsApp

Required phone number

You need a phone number to sign up with WhatsApp, but there are ways to have a phone number via Google or other virtual numbers.


Like many apps, WhatsApp can be addicting.  You have all your contacts at your disposal and therefore can pass all your time on your phone instead of being present.

Where is WhatsApp mostly used?  

  1.  India 487.5 million people
  2. Brazil  118.5 million people
  3. Indonesia  84.8 million people
  4. United States  79.6 million people
  5. Russia    67 million people
  6. Mexico    60 million people

WhatsApp usage in India is more than the combined total of the next five countries on the list.  The app's significant use there is attributed by experts to its users' ability to communicate for free with their friends and relatives. This has shown to be especially appealing in nations where people cannot afford to purchase iPhones in order to use iMessage and/or send SMS texts at a cost. 

In addition, one of the most popular Google searches in India is for WhatsApp online, a service that enables users to send and receive WhatsApp messages on their computers.

FAQs about WhatsApp

Q1: Is WhatsApp free to use?

A1: Yes! WhatsApp is free to download and use. Only data or Wi-Fi connection costs apply.

Q2: Why would someone use WhatsApp instead of texting?

A2: You don't need a wireless provider to text with WhatsApp, just an internet connection. The platform is free to use, making it cost-effective. WhatsApp is popular internationally, so if you're trying to communicate with people abroad, you may find them more accessible using WhatsApp.

Q3: How secure is WhatsApp?

A3: WhatsApp employs end-to-end encryption, ensuring only the sender and the recipient can read the messages.

Q4: Can I make international calls using WhatsApp?

A4: Absolutely! As long as both parties have the app, you can make international voice and video calls for free.

Q5: Can businesses use WhatsApp?

A5: Indeed! Many businesses use WhatsApp Business, a separate app designed for small business owners.

Q6: What is the difference between WhatsApp and regular texting?

A6: How does it work? It works just like text messaging, but with one crucial difference – the messages are sent over the internet rather than over the phone network. This means messages are free to send, even if you attach photos, videos, or audio files.

I have found WhatsApp to be so important for me to stay in contact with family and friends, no matter where I am.  It is simple to use, and my family group text allows us to share videos, pictures, messages and calls no matter where we are.  Also, there aren’t the distractions you can sometimes have, such as when you open Facebook Messenger or other social media apps, as people can write a status and have a picture, but they are not posting anything.

If you are traveling or living abroad, you will encounter many people using WhatsApp!