Last year Facebook acquired WhatsApp, a popular rival online messaging service, for $19 billion and appears to have begun testing some level of integration between the two services. Appearing in a new version of its Android app (v 188.8.131.52.13), Facebook allows users to send and share news directly to WhatsApp.
The new feature appears as a simple “send” button alongside the usual array of responses to a post. You can then share the item with a user in your WhatsApp contact list. However, I haven’t been able to find the button using Facebook v32, so perhaps this feature is only available to voluntary beta testers. See the screenshot below for a quick look.
How far Facebook and WhatApp will end up being integrated is currently unknown. Previously, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum stated that the app would continue to function independently, but that doesn’t mean that the two apps couldn’t begin to share some common features. Rumors also suggest that in the future the two apps may share the option to send messages between each other, effectively sharing their contacts lists. There’s also the possibility that Facebook may be interested in WhatsApp’s online voice call technology.
For Facebook, just having users share additional content between the two platforms will likely drive more ad revenue its way and could help bring additional users to each of the two platforms.
We will have to see how integration with WhatsApp affects Facebook’s own Messenger service, or if the company intends to keep the two as distinctly separate platforms.