WhatsApp passes 300M active users, adds voice messaging

The hit app has added 50 million active users in less than two months and now processes 31 billion messages on a daily basis, the developer says.

Jennifer Van Grove Former Senior Writer / News
Jennifer Van Grove covered the social beat for CNET. She loves Boo the dog, CrossFit, and eating vegan. Her jokes are often in poor taste, but her articles are not.
Jennifer Van Grove
2 min read
WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum at AllThingsD's mobile conference. Maggie Reardon/CNET

Watch out for WhatsApp. The mobile messaging smash has grown to a captive audience of more than 300 million people, up from 250 million active users less than two months ago. The 4-year-old service is also expanding in function to include a new type of messaging.

"Today, we're proud to announce that WhatsApp has surpassed 300 million monthly active users worldwide, a milestone on the road to WhatsApp becoming the communication network of the 21st century," a company spokesperson told CNET.

"On this occasion, we are also excited to introduce Voice Messaging, a new feature that will allow our customers to quickly and easily communicate in real time using voice messages with friends and family, whether they're across the room or thousands of miles away."

Push-to-talk voice messaging arrives in WhatsApp. Press and hold the microphone button to record your message. Lift your finger to send the message, or slide to cancel. Screenshot by Jennifer Van Grove/CNET

WhatsApp makes a cross-platform messaging service that works across iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and Symbian devices, and has gained popularity among younger users as a cheap alternative to texting. In mid June, the company said it handled 27 billion messages in a record one-day period. Now WhatsApp says it processes 11 billion sent messages and 20 billion received messages, or 31 billion total, on a daily basis. The app also sees 325 million photo uploads each day, the spokesperson said.

Tuesday, WhatsApp will attempt to conquer a new realm in messaging. The application is being updated with push-to-talk voice messaging so people can effortlessly weave audio recordings into their conversation threads -- potentially already populous with photos, videos, or locations -- with friends on the service. Members simply tap and hold the microphone icon to record a message that sends on release of the button, or they can slide their finger to the left to cancel the recording.

The new feature is being rolled out to all users on all platforms within the next 24 hours, according to AllThingsD, which was first to report the news.

In the realm of mobile messaging services, voice messaging is far from a novel idea. WhatsApp's version is playful in nature, however, and it should act as yet another tool that entices youngsters and wards off a multitude of challengers that include Facebook, push-to-talk incumbent Voxer, and Japanese messaging sensation Line, known for its vast sticker collection.