There are over a billion WhatsApp users; here’s how to get chatting.

The desire for encrypted communications is no longer limited to spies, informants, and journalists. Amidst news of widespread surveillance, secure messaging apps are growing in popularity.

More than 1 billion people now use WhatsApp every day, sending 55 billion messages, 4.5 billion photos, and 1 billion videos.

WhatsApp makes it easy to keep in touch with far-flung friends on the cheap. It’s free to text and call as long as you have a Wi-Fi or data connection. The IM-style service is more popular than the very similar Facebook Messenger, likely because it works on feature phones, which are common outside the US, and because it isn’t directly tied to Facebook, despite being owned by the huge social network.

Aside from casual communication, WhatsApp is also becoming integral for industries in places like India, where hospitals use it for everything from shift scheduling to transplant planning. WhatsApp groups have helped solve murders and exposed sexual harassment in British government. Whatever you’re using WhatsApp for, though, you likely don’t know everything it can do. Read on for our top tips.

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