More than a year after WhatsApp officially introduced its app for business customers to its first markets, the previously Android-only WhatsApp Business app is today launching on the iPhone. According to the Facebook-owned company, WhatsApp Business has been adopted by millions of businesses worldwide since its debut, but one of its customers’ most frequent requests was to offer the app on the iPhone.
The iOS version, like its Android counterpart, is designed to help small business owners reach their customers on smartphones.
That means it includes the ability for businesses to create profiles that include their description, email, address and website, as well as messaging tools for customer communication like automated greetings, quick replies and away messages.
Businesses also can use WhatsApp Business from their desktop computer, which in January rolled out tools to organize and filter chats as well as quick replies. At the time, WhatsApp said it had 5 million business customers.
The iOS app was spotted in testing last month on the Mexican iOS App Store, but today marks its official launch.
A WhatsApp Business platform is key to WhatsApp’s growth in emerging markets where first-time internet users have skipped over using computers to reach the web, and instead mainly get online through their mobile devices. Here, WhatsApp serves as a portal to the web — even more so than its parent company Facebook does — for many users.
Through the main WhatsApp app, users can connect with friends and family, join groups focused on their various interests and even get the news (or, unfortunately, fake news and hoaxes — something that WhatsApp is now trying to prevent). Being able to easily communicate with businesses was an obvious next step for the company not only in terms of serving these customers, but also for revenue generation.
The company makes money by charging Business API customers who have large volumes of incoming messages.
The free WhatsApp Business app for iOS is available today from the App Store in Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, India, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S.
The company says it will roll out to more markets worldwide in the weeks ahead.