You know, WhatsApp is like your uncle who refuses to accept new technology and is still using Facebook on a Pentium II computer (with a CRT monitor) regularly: he’s slow to adapt to new things. For example, other messaging platforms have the call feature way before WhatsApp incorporated it. Other platforms have video call feature in 1819 before WhatsApp added it in 2016.
And other platforms, including its parent company Facebook, has stickers for thousands of years, and it’s only now that WhatsApp is allowing stickers (there’s a reason for it; read on).
But WhatsApp has an advantage over other platforms: they’ve got 1.5 billion monthly users. And that matters since messaging apps are all about the number of users and not exactly about the features: you can have the best messaging app but when none of your friends use it, that app is just rotting in your phone.
So when WhatsApp introduced the long awaited sticker function, it’s big news.
For old man like me who seldom use stickers, what does it mean?
Here are 10 facts about WhatsApp stickers, so people like me won’t think that WhatsApp has released some physical stickers for us to paste on our CRT monitor.
Before Stickers, There Are Gifs
If you go to your WhatsApp now, you’ll see an option to include gifs in your messages.
You know, something like this (this isn’t there lah but we’re loving it):
Now, don’t confuse gifs with stickers: these gifs are generic animations that are in all WhatsApp, so they’re different from stickers. And these gifs don’t make money: read on and you’ll understand.
What are Stickers?
You’d have to thank messaging platform Line for stickers.
Unlike emojis whereby every phone would have them, stickers are illustrations, sometimes animated, of characters that provide a “character-driven” emoticons.
They can be custom-made and come in packages. Say, for example, this is Line’s stickers that were released in 2016 to celebrate Singapore’s National Day:
(Since you’re here, subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more informative videos lah)
They are obviously not emojis and convert a tad more emotions.
And by now, you should get the next point, which is…
Stickers Need to be Downloaded
Unlike emojis that are hardcoded into your app, you need to download stickers to use them. Apps usually have a few packs of generic stickers, but if you want to be more unique, you’ll have to download sticker packs: a pack would contain an array of themed stickers.
Want an example? Our PM has a sticker pack for Telegram:
Not All Sticker Packs Are Free
Line is making money from stickers because you need to buy some of their sticker packs. And they make a whopping USD$20 million a month selling these stickers.
These sticker packs are created by third parties like you and me, but Line would need to approve them before they go on sale (or for free). Telegram stickers, however, need no approval and can be published without any vetting.
So yeah, stickers are big business. The Line characters are so popular, they’re also being sold as plushies everywhere.
Which leads to the next question: Why does WhatsApp come into the game so late?
WhatsApp Founder Leave WhatsApp
In April this year, WhatsApp cofounder and CEO Jan Koum suddenly left WhatsApp. According to an interview that was conducted only a month ago, he left WhatsApp because his goal for WhatsApp was to create a secured platform that is simple without any gimmick or ad.
However, as we all now know, WhatsApp is now starting to make money, from connecting with Facebook to selling business tools. Stickers weren’t mentioned in the article, but stickers do have the potential to be monetized; which seemed to be against Jan Koum’s principles.
In any case, whether the stickers would be monetized or not, or whether the ex-CEO left because of this reason, time will tell.
Though you’ve got to admit that from a business point of view, it’s understandable that WhatsApp needs to earn money. Facebook isn’t a charity, you know.
And selling stickers aren’t going to affect any user experience, so why not?
WhatsApp Stickers: When is it Arriving?
While WhatsApp’s official blog indicates that it’ll be arriving in the coming weeks, it could well depend on when you update your app.
If you’re an Android user, you need to update to version 2.18.329 and if you’re an iOS user, you need to update to version 2.18.100.
You can manually go to the Google Play Store or App Store to update it, or if you’ve set your phone to auto update apps via Wifi, simply wait for a few days. Usually, the phone would update its apps in the middle of the night (if you’ve got enough battery life).
By Default, a Number of Sticker Packs Are Installed in Update
You’ll have a few sticker packs in your phone after you update to the version with stickers. But let’s face it: stickers are fun only when we’ve got unique ones, eh?
These starter sticker packs are created by WhatsApp designers and other artists, but what’s fun is what you’ll be reading next.
They Allow Anyone to Create Stickers
Yah, nothing new since all stickers in all other platforms are doing that.
But hey, it’s WhatsApp, so it’ll be used more often with 1.5 billion users!
However, if you think you’re an artist and want to create a sticker pack of yourself, believing that you look good and should be the face of all emojis, hold your horses. Because you need to know a little coding to get started.
Third-party Sticker Packs
To see your emoji-ed face all over your friends’ WhatsApp, you need to package the stickers into an Android or iOS app. The stickers must be 512×512 pixels with transparent background, and each sticker to be less than 100kb.
Sounds cheem? It does for me, especially when WhatsApp pointed us to GitHub on a sample app. According to the team involved in our app development, GitHub is extremely useful for developers, but laymen like you and me would be lost there.
Well, there goes the chance of me pasting my face on my phone.
It’s also unknown when sticker packs need to be approved by WhatsApp before they’re being used—as mentioned, Telegram didn’t need approval and while they have lots of stickers, it leads to problems like plagiarism and of course, the lack of quality in many stickers (i.e. people like me who put my face as a sticker).
But still, it’s fun.
Now, excuse me as I look for our developer to do a sticker pack of my eyes. You guys would download it, right?
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