Uber-popular cross-platform messaging app WhatsApp received a significant update for iPhone today. The most immediately noticeable new feature is that now users can send multiple photos at the same time. WhatsApp now also offers the ability to back up all your chats via iCloud. In addition the company has added support for URL hooks so developers of third-party apps can easily integrate their apps with WhatsApp.

But there’s also a much more significant change for WhatsApp today. Previously the iPhone app cost $0.99, but now it is a free download with free use for the first year and a $0.99 subscription fee for each additional year. Current users who originally paid for the app will be able to use the app for free for the rest of their lives. Here’s what WhatsApp had to say about the financial changes on their blog:

We are updating our business model for new iPhone users going forward. As you know, we used to charge iPhone users a $0.99 one time payment, while Android and other platforms had free service for the first year and paid $0.99 a year after that. From now on, we’ve simplified our business model so that all users on all platforms will enjoy their first year of WhatsApp service for free, and only pay $.99 per year after that. We feel that this model will allow us to become the communications service of the 21st century, and provide you the best way to stay in touch with your friends and family with no ads getting in the way. The good news for all current iPhone users is that WhatsApp will be free of charge for the rest of your life.

WhatsApp is (now) a free download.

WhatsApp for iPhone gets iCloud backups, multiple photos sends, more; goes subscription-based originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Wed, 17 Jul 2013 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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