Strategy Analytics, in its report on wireless media trends and predictions, said WhatsApp user number would hit 1 billion by mid-2016.

WhatsApp is the leading mobile messaging platform with a whopping 900 millionmonthly active users recorded in September last year. Facebook purchased the app for a reported amount of $22 billion. Since the change of ownership the messaging service has grown vastly, many modern featuresadded and functionality enhanced to a very fine tune.WhatsApp, which only started in 2009, has risen above the likes of Skype that has been in the market for quite some time now.

WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are to have 2 billion users by the end of 2016. Facebook Messenger impressively reached a landmark of 800 million monthly active users this month. The majority of the 2 billion users will be using both platforms, Strategy Analytics predicts.

The firm expects messaging services to put more pressure on the dominating casual SMS. However, the company is also confident Facebook will continue to explore on monetizing both WhatsApp and Messenger. WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum has always dismissed the possibility of having features like ads, games, and promotions; so Strategy Analytics thinks the social platform will start charging for calls just like Skype and Viber.

Upsurge of worldwide mobile data users expected

In other predictions, the firm foresees an increase in some people using mobile data. The number will hit 2.6 billion users this year according to its report. The anticipated rise will be motivated by cheap data plans offered by mobile operators nowadays due toincreasing of players in space while smartphones apart from becoming cheaper are penetrating deeper covering initially uncovered markets.

Lastly, people have showed interests in blocking advertisements with the innovation of ad-blocking software while mobile operators aim to use network-based ad-blocking technology to do the same. Still the firm forecasts mobile advertising is increasingimmensely probably reaching $47.8 billion this year.

Predictions of new features in 2016

WhatsApp developers are so reluctant when it comes to adding new features to the service. A few changes witnessed in 2015 with only two major inclusions. WhatsApp Web for desktop users and later voice calling feature were the only additions. Here are some of the predicted features expected on WhatsApp in 2016.

Video calling

Immediately after launching voice calling, rumors havecirculated a possible introduction of video calling. Contrary to the expectations, WhatsApp did not include the feature in 2015. A few weeks into 2016, solid evidence has shown that the feature is not far away. Screenshots of a beta version with video calling feature of WhatsApp version iOS leakedjust days into the New Year. Thefeature that is to be launched in the first quarter of the year will be a major boost to the company.

The service continued its dominance in the messaging space,yet it was the only platform in the VoIP industry with no video calling option. All rival competitors including Skype, Viber, WeChat and Line all already had the feature. Probably this is the feature to fuel a hit of 1 billion users this year.Facebook announced WhatsApp had 900 million users in September last year. Moreover, the service rate of user sign up stood at an impressive 1 million users/day.

IPhone and iPad users to get the feature ahead of Android users

At least with the available rumored information of version, the feature may first hit the App Store. Meaning Android users will wait a little longer for the much-awaited inclusion. Unconfirmed reports claim testing has been finalized, and the update is ready for public consumption and might be released in a few weeks to come. However, WhatsApp management has the tendency to hold features longer than expected; we saw that with voice calling feature so maybe in a month or so video calling will be available.

New design-tabbed interface

WhatsApp developers are purportedly working on a new design for the service to be launched in 2016 alongside video calling platform. The design is rumored to feature a multi-tabbed interface just like browser windows, but just asnotedearlier, the company is always slow to roll out new features so that users might wait longer.