By Komborerai Murimba – After getting enough requests by some of our readers to explain exactly how the ‘Online’ feature on Whatsapp behaves, we felt compelled to explain how it works exactly. For some readers the request was purely inspired by curiosity while some expressed their genuine confusion, stemming from troublesome scenarios into which Whatsapp had led them. Either way, we are going to share three main things you should understand about the online status on Whatsapp.
Online can mean the client is active, not just the user
The obvious case is that Whatsapp displays an ‘online’ status when someone is typing and sending messages. This is the manner in which most people trust Whatsapp to rightly report (of course leading to the many bouts we have all heard of). Here’s some relief for you. That’s not the only time Whatsapp will display an online status. When you are using Whatsapp and you leave the client open to do something else, for instance, it will still show an ‘online’ status. In our thorough tests, we discovered that this will switch from ‘online’ to a last seen time-stamp repeatedly in most cases. So, online does not always mean someone is active on Whatsapp. It can also simply mean, the client is active on your mobile device. Note, when we say ‘active’ we are talking about the app running in the foreground. Which brings me to the next point.
Online can be triggered by other tasks or application
Not in the sense you would think. When the client is activated and the user is not using the client, if they receive a call which causes them to press a key or touch the screen to executive a function, the application’s status is also turned to ‘online’, even if Whatsapp is not in focus (considering that another process would be the one in the foreground thereafter)
Online status is often ‘drunk’
While it remains unclear why this happens, one possible explanation is that the Whatsapp servers are taking quite a load – maybe so large, ‘online’ statuses and last seen time-stamps are not always accurate in real-time. Actually, many times, they are actually completely off-target. Two people can chat on Whatsapp and on either side, the last seen time-stamp from two hours back does not change to ‘online’ for an entire thirty minutes plus.
The online status is linked to the irritating aspects of the app we mentioned when we talked about the 4 annoying things about Whatsapp. And still, despite many updates you can’t shut it down in many devices as you would want to, when the noise becomes a bit overwhelming. Yet another reason to try Line, one of the world’s best free social apps!
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Komborerai is a photographer, writer and graphic designer. He is a firm believer in using ICT to "...create lasting sustainable solutions for real life problems in society", and open source software. He loves fishing, playing chess and collecting socks.