Here’s how you can give your WhatsApp superpowers.The WhatsApp phenomenon has grown so much over the last few years, that as of about three years ago, I completely stopped getting personal emails. I mean really none at all.
I’m sure a lot of you experienced the same thing. Instead, I started getting added to WhatsApp groups. Lots and lots and lots of WhatsApp groups. I have to say that I was quite rude and left one of the groups of classmates from my school. They tried to add me back, but I kept leaving until they decided it wasn’t worth their while. There was just too much distracting activity on that group for me to handle, and I get very easily distracted. But this isn’t an article about WhatsApp etiquette. Far from it. It’s about what else you can use WhatsApp for. Did you know you could use it as a search engine? Yes, really.
And it doesn’t end there. You can also use it to:
Get celebrity news
Translate French to English (or other languages)
Get sports news
Receive the latest shopping deals
I know that you can do all these things individually via other apps. But the beauty of doing it all within WhatsApp is that you can set up a group for say, the latest Bollywood updates and add all your Bolly-mad friends to it. Voila! Your friends and you can now share and discuss the same news on your very own WhatsApp group.
I’ve been playing with all these features on WhatsApp for a while now and am really enjoying them (as you can see from the images). However, just so you know, the features I’ve been using aren’t provided by WhatsApp. They’ve been built by a home-grown startup based out of Chennai called Duta, and are provided completely for free right now. While WhatsApp has aggressively cracked down on bot-based services like WhatsBot and modifications like WhatsApp Plus in the past, Duta’s model, which combines query responses with broadcast-like updates, is doing well.
And these features are all really easy to use as well. To set up the features, just visit the Duta.in website and click on the button on their homepage that says: “Having problems accessing Duta in WhatsApp?”. The help page this button takes you to lists all the features you can access via WhatsApp, including a mobile number associated with each feature. To start using the service, simply add the mobile number to your smartphone’s contact list. Then go to WhatsApp and set up a new group using that mobile number and you’re ready to go. As soon as you set up the group, you’ll get a welcome message, along with basic instructions on how to use it.
You can now also start adding other contacts from your address book to this group if you like — friends, family, anyone you think will be happy to join you there. Duta provides so many different news feeds and features, all accessible through WhatsApp, that almost anyone should be able to find something that interests them. And because they’re all in WhatsApp, you can set up groups around your favourite topics with your favourite people. On that note, just to go back to etiquette for a minute: try not to spam them so that they don’t do what I did and leave your group.