Posted by Mike Procopio, Engineering Manager, Google Drive and Wesley Chun, Developer Advocate, Google Apps
WhatsApp is one of the most popular mobile apps in the world. Over a billion
users send and receive over 42 billion messages, photos, and videos every day.
It's fast, easy to use, and reliable.
But what happens when people lose their phone or otherwise upgrade to a new
one? All those messages and memories would be gone. So we worked with WhatsApp
to give their users the ability to back up their data to Google Drive and
restore it when they setup WhatsApp on a new phone. With messages and media
safely stored in your Drive, there’s no more worry about losing any of those
One of the biggest challenges for an integration of this scope is scaling. How
do you back up data for a billion users? Many things were done to ensure the
feature works as intended and is unnoticeable by users. Our approach? First, we
relied on a proven infrastructure that can handle this kind of volume—Google
Drive. Next, we optimized what to back up and when to do the backups—the key was to upload only incremental changes rather than
transmit identical files.
On the server side (backend), we focused on optimizing byte storage as well as
the number of network calls between WhatsApp and Google. As far as deployment
goes, we rolled out slowly over several months to minimize the size and impact
If you have ever used WhatsApp, you know how it gets out of your way, and lets
you get started quickly: no account creation, no passwords to manage, and no
user IDs to remember or exchange. This sets a high bar for any integration with
WhatsApp: for it to feel like a natural part of WhatsApp, it has to be as
seamless, fast, and reliable as WhatsApp itself.
By using the Google Drive API, we were able to achieve this: no need to type in
any usernames or passwords, just a few taps in the app, and WhatsApp starts
backing up. The best part is that all the tools used in the integration are
available to all developers. With the Google Drive API, seamless and scalable
integrations are as easy to use for the user as they are for developers.
To learn more about how we did it and get all the details, check out the complete talk we gave together with WhatsApp at Google I/O 2016.
Are you ready to integrate your web and mobile apps with Google Drive? Get
started today by checking out our intro video as well as the video demoing the newest API, then dig in with the developer docs found at developers.google.com/drive. We're excited to see what you build next with the Drive API—and we're ready
to scale with you!