The mobile networks have been adamant that their subscribers should buy specific bundles in order to access different ‘parts’ of the internet: WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and Opera. Some of the operator offer ‘free’ internet, but this keeps users in a “walled garden” where the mobile network can dictate what we can and cannot see.
One of the most active apps for Zimbabweans these days is WhatsApp. The instant messaging application allows us to do all those expensive things that the networks milked us for: calling and texting. As subscribers have limited disposable income, a lot of the times they opt for one of these bundles and try their best to keep in the loop from there.
Sadly, when opting for WhatsApp all one could do was text and call their friends and relatives (on a good day).
A “WhatsApp bot” has surfaced locally that allows users of WhatsApp to be able to do a number of things as if they were on the internet; read the news, search for content on Wikipedia, play quizzes, read jokes, and so on and so forth.
The “WhatsApp bot” is currently created and maintained by a group in India and due to this the content has a bias towards the Asian country, but there is benefit for a local subscriber to access and use it. Here’s how to access another part of the internet, all within WhatsApp and using your WhatsApp bundles:
Save the following numbers in your phone, in the exact format. I’d suggest you go with the name ‘WhatsApp Bot’ but anything that your are comfortable will do.
- +91 98239 96782
- +91 78239 97002
- +91 78239 97192
- +91 78239 97223
- +91 98239 97284
Create WhatsApp Group
Create a group that will have you and the ‘bot’ in it. To create a group, go to the Home screen (the one you see all your messages from people) then press Menu >> New group. You will be prompted to give the group a name/description. I’d suggest you name it “WhatsApp Bot Group”, but again, you can name it whatever you comfortable with.
Then add all the ‘WhatsApp Bot’ contacts to this group and your done.
If you want to add someone else to the group for them to enjoy the fun you can, but remember to ask them first before adding them to any group – it’s the courteous thing to do.
Subscribe To Services
Once the group is created an automatic message will be sent by the bot advising that you are subscribed to FREE Football updates. If you’re not a fan of football, reply with -football to unsubscribe. You can do this at any time.
Send a message to the group written *info and a list of possible services that you can subscribe to will be advised. To subscribe to any of these just send a message to the group with ‘+’ and the service, e.g. +finance
Search For Content
For now you are able to pull content from Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. To do this simply send “wiki keyword” where ‘keyword’ is the term or phrase you’d like to search for. E.g. ‘wiki Zimbabwe‘.
To call up the news or any service that you’ve subscribed to just put an asterisk ‘*’ and the category you want: *news. When prompted with an ordered list, reply with the option that you’d like to read, preceded by the ‘*’ again.
For the services that you have subscribed to there will be automatic updates that will be sent to our phone at a specific time (usually in the morning). There is nothing that you have to do besides staying subscribed to such services. If you opt out you will no longer see the messages.
To receive messages you will need an active internet connection, whether wifi, data bundles or WhatsApp bundles. If you use NetOne or Telecel note that the text messages that you are sent count towards your data limit for your bundle.