WhatsApp to increase attachment size to 2GB, add emoji reactions, larger group calls, and more
WhatsApp Messenger has laid down plans for some changes coming to its apps. The Facebook-owned service is also set to introduce a new feature called Communities, to help organizations, schools, local clubs, businesses, communicate with their members.
Communities are essentially private groups that cannot be discovered by users. Admins can invite members to join them, or link to an existing group, or create one from scratch. One important aspect of Communities is that it provides phone number privacy, so other users can't view your number, unless you interact with them directly. WhatsApp has outlined its plans for the feature.
Increased attachment size limit
WhatsApp is increasing the file size limits for attachments to 2GB. Currently, the apps allow users to share media (video, audio and photos) up to 16MB in size, and documents that weigh up to 100 megabytes. Naturally because of such restrictions, videos shared through the app are often in SD resolution or worse. As a workaround, people often select the document sharing option, and then pick a media file (larger than 16MB) to send to their friends and groups. The increase in the file size limit should prove useful, at least in terms of the video quality.
Larger group calls
Group Calls in WhatsApp have an unusual limit, while you can make calls within a group, it restricts the participants to the first 7 people who answer the call. If you include the caller, that brings the total number of participants to 8. WhatsApp says it will support group voice calls for up to 32 participants, with end-to-end encryption. TechCrunch has shared a screenshot that shows a new design for the group calls interface.
Emoji Reactions for chats
When somebody shares some news in a group, everyone chimes in with a comment to express their emotion. It is not useful to see 4 or 5 messages like "nice, good, cool, okay", in response to the message. It just adds to the clutter. Well, this is where emoji reactions are better, and WhatsApp will support it in chats. Users will be able to select an emoji to show others how they feel about a message, now that is cool.
Admins can delete messages in groups
Some of the biggest problems in social groups are spam, misinformation. Do memes and forwards count? Group admins on WhatsApp Messenger will soon be able to delete unwanted messages from the chat, which will in turn be removed from the message feed for all users in the group. This can help in preventing fake news and malicious content from spreading.
These are some good changes, but are they innovative? Let's take a brief look at what the competition has in store. Telegram added support for up to 2GB attachments in July 2020, already supports unlimited participants in group voice calls and up to 30 members in video calls. The instant messaging service introduced emoji reactions in December 2021, and allows refined controls for group admins. The Telegram desktop app is also way ahead in terms of features compared to WhatsApp, though the latter has improved its app recently.
So, WhatsApp is quite late to the party, and just playing catch up. There is no ETA regarding when the new features will go live, I use the beta version of the app, and it still has the old limitations.
Images courtesy WhatsApp
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