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Google has launched a chat feature for people without smartphones to help them stay in touch and communicate with their families.
The feature is being rolled out in the UK, the US, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Spain, where it is being called ‘Whatsapp for smartphones’.
Google says it has seen “over 1 million new phone numbers every month” since the launch of the app in September 2015.
“We know that mobile communication can be incredibly valuable for families, but our focus is on people and families with smartphones,” said Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google.
“With WhatsApp for smartphones, we are giving people who don’t have a smartphone the ability to share important family information and find out more about each other through text messaging.”‘
We don’t want to be the app for your phone’The feature will allow users to sign up for a free account, which will give them access to a series of messages, chats and photos, and access to relevant content.
“WhatsApp for smartphones is not just about the features, it’s about the freedom to create, edit and share with friends and family,” said Facebook’s head of product marketing, Matt Simmons.
“The way we make this work has been to ensure that it’s easy for people to use and easy for the community to share, but also for our team to deliver the best experience for people who want to stay connected with their loved ones on the go.”
“We don, and won’t, be the end-all-be-all of messaging, but we want to offer people the best experiences possible,” he said.
The company’s WhatsApp app is free to download and use.
The company has been in the process of rolling out the feature for years.
In January, it rolled out its own video-calling app called Duo, which it said had more than doubled its user base since the service was launched.