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Is fancy texting killing e-mail?

By Jean-Claude Elias - Sep 27,2018 - Last updated at Sep 27,2018

In the beginning, there was e-mail. Then came standard texting. Now WhatsApp and its sophisticated texting mode is changing the rules by taking the whole concept to new extremes.

Each time a new, shorter and faster form of digital communication is introduced, and provided it is widely adopted, it almost unmistakably supersedes the previous, the “longer” one. This is what WhatsApp is doing now. Regardless of its shortcomings, of its few imperfections, one must admit that the advantages of the system are overwhelming.

WhatsApp is free, fast and instant. It can carry with it attachments virtually of all types. More importantly, and unlike any other similar texting system, the feedback it provides by letting you know if the message has been delivered and read, and if you correspondent is online, is precious and makes a big, significant difference, compared to other similar systems.

Moreover, it has proven to be very reliable and safe. WhatsApp is owned by Facebook and it only works on portable platforms. It does not work on regular desktop Windows, for example, unless you have the mobile app installed first.

The only case when using good old e-mail is more convenient is when you need to write longer text, with some page layout formatting. This is more comfortable only if you are writing your email using a full-size computer or a laptop, not a smartphone, obviously! When it comes to writing directly with a smartphone, email is not more practical than WhatsApp.

Some claim that email is still more formal. It may be true. It is certainly true in most cases. But communication between people, overall, is getting less formal — this is the whole point. I have countless examples of business communication where the other side told me: “send it to me with WhatsApp”, or “take a picture and WhatsApp it to me.” My bank does that, and so my insurance company, to name only these two entities. 

The need for speed and simplicity is exceeding, and by far, the need for proper syntax and perfect grammar or sentences. As long as there are not significant mistakes and no room for misunderstanding the meaning of the message, any text goes! Who cares for style then?

Any WhatsApp weaknesses? I see only one, and it is a rather a personal opinion, though perfectly justified and very technical. Pictures sent via WhatsApp, and regardless of how they are taken in the beginning, are heavily compressed and lose a significant part of their viewing quality. Moreover, there is no way in Whatsapp to set the “level of compression” so as to optimise the image quality. The reason is to keep photos size small and to avoid overloading WhatsApp servers and slowing the whole system. This is how WhatsApp wants it to be and this is how it will be — at least until further news.

It is but a minor point and one can live perfectly well with this limitation. Besides, if the idea is to send high definition photos while preserving their original quality, there are several other solutions: saving and sharing in the cloud, e-mailing as attachment, etc.

 It is not clear yet if we have already reached the tipping point where we are using WhatsApp more than e-mail, but the shift, the trend is clear. A little detail that often goes unnoticed and that certainly contributes to the incredible popularity of WhatsApp: You do not need an e-mail address to communicate with you correspondent! All you need is their mobile number, which is practically our main identity today. 

So what after WhatsApp fancy texting? Probably mind reading or some kind of telepathy.

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