WhatsApp now has more than a billion active monthly users

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Instant messaging client WhatsApp has joined the one billion user club. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently revealed the milestone on the social network, congratulating co-founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum on the achievement.

If you recall, Facebook acquired the mobile messaging app for $19 billion nearly two years ago. Since that time, Zuckerberg said the community has more than doubled with 42 billion messages, 1.6 billion photos and 250 million videos being exchanged each day.

WhatsApp has come a very long way since launching in 2009. When we startedcharging its growth in late 2013, the service already had more than 400 million active monthly users. Eight months later, WhatsApp crossed the 600 million active monthly user milestone before eclipsing 700 million just five months after that.

Perhaps what’s most impressive of all is that WhatsApp currently has just 57 engineers on its team (and the backing of Facebook, of course).

In January 2015, WhatsApp finally added a desktop web application to supplement its mobile-first offering and last month, the service dropped its $0.99 annual subscription fee. A buck a year isn’t much in the eyes of the consumer but more importantly, it eliminated the need for a credit card – a real barrier for some, especially younger users.

New gestures and voice commands, plus speaker support coming soon to Android Wear

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Android Wear users should be on the lookout for new ways to use Google’s wearable device platform. According to the Android Blog, there’s a firmware upgrade happening soon (“in the next few weeks”) that includes some new input and output features. Once the upgrade rolls out, Android Wear watches will take advantage of the functionality of their built-in speakers, as well as support new gestures and voice commands.

As far as gesture controls go, the big news is that gestures are expanding from the simple wrist flick. With the upgrade, after flicking to scroll through different cards, users can take action on them through pivoting their arm downward in a motion called a “push.” Reverse the motion to trigger a back command. And to get back to the home screen, just shake your wrist back-and-forth.

Use your voice to dictate messages to some of the apps on your smartwatch, including Hangouts, WhatsApp, and Telegram. And since speaker support is enabled in the upgrade, your Android Wear watch can be used as a Bluetooth speakerphone for tethered handsets. Watches with speakers compatible with this function include the Huawei Watch and 49mm Asus ZenWatch 2.

Excited? Look for the OS version 1.4.0. Don’t have a smartwatch? Just carry on with your day (I don’t have one either.)