As the coronavirus lockdown brings more people to online services, it appears more steps are being taken to handle the network congestion brought by the steep rise in the number of users. After YouTube, Netflix, and many others imposed limitations such as lowering the bitrate and defaulting to a lower resolution, WhatsApp has done something similar to the 'Status' section on its platform. WhatsApp no longer allows users to post videos longer than 15 seconds as their status on the instant messaging platform in India.
The change was first spotted by WABetaInfo. We checked the latest beta (v2.20.107) and the stable (v2.20.89) builds of WhatsApp on Android, and can independently confirm that users can no longer share videos of over 15 seconds on their Status. Now, when you try to upload a video longer than 15 seconds in length, the app shows a prompt that says "Videos sent to My Status will be trimmed to the first 15 seconds".
However, the message is a bit confusing, because the videos are not actually trimmed to the first 15 seconds. Instead, you can specify any 15-second section of a video that can go on your status. All you have to do is slide the rectangular seek box over the frames to select which 15-second portion of a video you want to upload. Once you've done that, the 15-second clip will be shared on your WhatsApp status. It appears that the move has been implemented only in India as of now.
The 15-second status video length limitation has reportedly been implemented to reduce the traffic on server infrastructure. However, we are yet to hear an official announcement or receive a press release from WhatsApp regarding the change. We've reached out however, and will update this space if we hear back. Also, a lot of users are apparently not too happy with the 15-second limit imposed on sharing videos via their status. It must be noted that WhatsApp status remains visible for your contacts (and on the WhatsApp server) only for a span of 24 hours before it automatically gets deleted, so it is quite interesting to see how big a relief this move brings when it comes to reducing the load on server infrastructure.
How are we staying sane during this Coronavirus lockdown? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.