WhatsApp is now free to download on the iPhone, with the messaging app moving to the same annual subscription model that its Android app currently uses. Until now, iPhone users have had to pay a one-off fee of 69p when first downloading the app, but now will pay a fee of $0.99 (65p) every year.
The app is over-the-top (OTT) messaging service that uses the phone’s data or Wi-Fi connection to send and receive data.
Even though unlimited text messaging is now an almost universally standard feature of UK phone contracts, the popularity of comparatively cheap OTT messaging apps continues to grow. Pay as you go customers often still have to pay over the odds for texts, and even contract customers incur extra charges when texting from abroad. The ability to send messages from anywhere in the world using Wi-Fi and send picture messages for free give the apps the edge over the traditional text.
By the end of this year traffic figures from over-the-top messaging apps are set to be double the figures for text messages, according to Informa analyst Pamela Clark-Dickson. This doesn’t mean the end for the humble text just yet, though. “Although there are multiple OTT-messaging ‘communities’ within which mobile users can message each other for free, OTT-messaging users typically use SMS when communicating with non-OTT users,” says Clark-Dickson.