Rumors about WhatsApp coming up with an entirely new version for business users had been doing rounds for quite some time. But now, as WhatsApp has rolled out the Business edition for beta testing to a handful of users some rumors can be put to rest. The app is aptly called WhatsApp Business and is aimed at facilitating communications between businesses and existing and prospective clients. Businesses or professionals will need to sign up for the service and possibly create a business profile.
WhatsApp hasn’t made the version public yet. Hence, a lot of it is left to speculations. But, it is certain that WhatsApp Business will be a separate application and will not be integrated with the existing consumer version. There is a chance the company may come up with two editions of WhatsApp Business for small-sized business and medium to large-sized enterprises. There is a strong possibility that WhatsApp Business will be a paid service. But, it may have a tiered pricing structure.
Key Reported Features
It is safe to assume that WhatsApp Business will pack a whole new set of features completely different from the original, consumer version. Since it is designed for businesses, it will supposedly have more business-friendly features and functions. The interface, however, is going to remain much the same if the leaked images of the upcoming business versions are to be believed. WhatsApp Business is expected to largely have the same look and feel in order to maintain the sense of familiarity. Of course, the logos for the two versions will be different. The business version features a logo with the letter B in white enclosed inside the chat bubble with a green background and thick white outline. The original WhatsApp retains the logo with white phone receiver enclosed inside the green bubble with white outline.
Chat Migration is another feature expected to be the part of WhatsApp Business. This will allow the business users to migrate their existing chats across different devices as well as across accounts. Unlike the consumer version of existing WhatsApp, the Business version will likely let you use the service on multiple devices. The reports also indicate that the users will be able to use both the consumer and business versions on the same device but with different phone numbers. Unlike the original WhatsApp, the new business edition will also let you set up the account using a land-line number. Keeping the two communications separate is likely to help keep the overlapping boundaries of professional and personal lives at a distance.
WhatsApp Business will also integrate another business feature to the app called Auto Response. This is similar to the auto response available in the emails that shoots out an automatic reply to the users who send the message to you when you are away from work. For instance, if you are out on a vacation and do not want to be disturbed by the business communications, you can set an auto response for your clients trying to get in touch with you through WhatsApp Business.
WhatsApp Business will also provide more detailed analytics than the consumer app. The original WhatsApp does offer some statistics but only superficially. The Business app, however, will provide more in-depth insight into stats pertaining to messages sent, delivered, received, and read.
How Do I Get WhatsApp Business?
WhatsApp hasn’t been released to the general public yet. As aforementioned, it has just been put out for beta test with only select users access to it. That’s why you won’t find it in the official app stores. But, you can request access as a tester. You will need to fill up a form at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WhatsAppBusiness. There are certain conditions though. Firstly, your request must be accepted by the concerned WhatsApp team. Also, you must have an Android device to test the beta app. You will be required to provide the email address with which you are signed in to Google Play Store while filling out the request Once your request has been accepted the app will be available for download on Play Store (signed in with the same email id you provided during sign up). Even if you obtain the APK file from an external source, you will not be able to use the beta app until the request is accepted.
Will the Chatting Experience Any Different from Original WhatsApp?
For the most part it will be much the same. You will see a similar chat window with a familiar interface. You will also see the message about your chats being end-to-end encrypted. But, the business accounts must go through a verification process by WhatsApp. If a particular business name you are trying to chat with is not verified, the app will throw a prompt saying “WhatsApp hasn’t verified their name yet.” You will also be able to see the name of the business, location, account image, business type, email address, and more on the business profile. How the WhatsApp Business account holder may manipulate the privacy settings to hide or reveal the information on the profile is yet unknown.
What is the Public Release Date?
Unfortunately, we don’t know it yet. And, that’s because WhatsApp hasn’t made any announcements. The app has been in the beta stage for a while now. More and more beta testers are being added to the team. In fact, some of the renowned businesses have also enrolled into beta testing. So, even though we do not know the exact release date, it looks like WhatsApp team may make the announcement any time soon.
Facebook-acquired WhatsApp has created enough buzz around its new offering, WhatsApp Business. The new app is designed to enable more effective communication among the businesses, professionals and their clients. But, how well the new communication will fare only time will tell. WhatsApp Business is still in a limited beta phase and is largely wrapped in rumors and guesses. A few reports have revealed some of its features, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. So, let’s just wait and watch.