Meta reinvests in ‘traditional’ products once again

Throughout 2022, much of the Meta-based news has stemmed from the company’s investment in the metaverse. However, with the year now drawing to a close, Meta appears to be pivoting back towards its ‘traditional’ products once again. This is because the company has made big changes to both WhatsApp and Instagram, two of its core offerings.

Meta launches new calling features on WhatsApp

Let’s start with WhatsApp, Meta’s free messaging and video calling app, which is used by over two billion people in more than 180 countries.

Although WhatsApp is primarily used for private and secure messaging, Meta says that an increasing number of people are using it as a way to make voice and video calls. As a result, throughout the course of 2022, Meta has launched several improvements to calling on WhatsApp, including:

  • 32-person calls: Users can now start a video or voice call with up to 32 people
  • Message or mute participants: Long pressing on a participant enlarges the video or audio feed and allows a user to either mute or message that participant separately, while keeping the call going
  • Call links: Users can easily invite people to a group call by sharing a call link

In addition to this, Meta has also made a number of functional changes that are intended to make the calling experience seamless. These changes include:

  • Colourful waveforms: Now, users can easily see who is speaking if their camera is off
  • In-call banner notifications: See when someone new joins a group call
  • Picture in Picture on iOS: This feature is now in beta testing and will roll out in 2023. Users will easily be able to multitask while on a call thanks to a minimised in-call video screen

Meta also launches new sharing features on Instagram

Meanwhile, over on Instagram, which is Meta’s photo and video-sharing social networking service, a raft of new features were launched last week.

Now, Meta has launched a Notes feature, which is a new way for users to share their thoughts using text and emojis. Notes can be up to 60 characters and can be shared with followers or people in a Close Friends list.

In addition to this, Meta is also testing a number of new features, such as Candid Stories, which allow users to share what they’re doing in the moment. In addition, users can now also create Group Profiles, which allow people to share posts and stories in a dedicated, shared profile.

Meta’s new feature rollout – the view from Spike

The rollout of these new features shows us that Meta remains invested in its traditional offerings. Plus, new features such as Candid Stories in particular show us that Meta is wary of the threat posed by rival platforms, such as BeReal.

However, Meta has already stated that the operating losses posted by Reality Labs (the business arm in charge of the Metaverse) will grow significantly in 2023. Plus, Mark Zuckerberg has also reiterated his commitment to spending billions of dollars developing the metaverse in spite of investor concerns and plummeting share prices.

As a result, although Meta’s changes to Instagram and WhatsApp are welcome from a user perspective, it appears unlikely that Meta will pivot from its long-term bet on the metaverse in 2023 and beyond.

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