WhatsApp is rolling out a new feature called Status that lets users send and receive status updates with their contacts. WhatsApp's Status updates are similar to the Stories feature that Snapchat introduced in October 2013.

Last August, even Instagram released its own version of Stories allowing users to share photos and videos which appear together in a slideshow format.

Like the messages you send on WhatsApp, the status updates, which let you share photos and videos with contacts in an easy yet secure way, are end-to-end encrypted.

When you open the Status tab, you should be able to see updates from your contacts that are on WhatsApp. You can even reply to your friends' updates privately. Very much like Snapchat stories, which live for 24 hours before they disappear, WhatsApp's status updates expire after 24 hours. The earlier version of status feature was "text only" but the reinvented version includes rich media. Like any other messages, you can mute and unmute contacts any time you want.

The rollout coincides with WhatsApp's eighth anniversary, which falls on 24 February. The new update would be available for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone users across the globe soon.

In a post on 20 February on the WhatsApp blog, the company's chief executive officer Jan Koum explained: "It was just eight years ago, in February 2009, when we started writing the first lines of code for what would eventually become WhatsApp. The original idea behind the project was to build an application that lets your friends and other contacts know what you're up to. This was months before we added messaging."

As many as 50 billion messages are estimated to be sent on WhatsApp every day. These include 3.3 billion photos, 760 million videos and 80 million GIFs. The number of photos that are sent has doubled over the last year while videos have tripled.

WhatsApp Status
WhatsApp Status rolling out to users starting 20 February WhatsApp