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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

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Upcoming WhatsApp features borrow cues from rivals

Picture: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/file

Picture: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/file

Published May 6, 2022

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Johannesburg – Instant messaging app WhatsApp is expected to release a batch of new features, some of which are already available on its sister social network Facebook and some of its rivals.

The roll-out of the new features comes after the Meta-owned platform announced a push toward enhancing community engagement through its Group Chats.

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Part of the new features WhatsApp users can expect to be rolled out in the coming weeks include the expansion of group chat sizes to 512 members, up to 2GB file transfers and reactions to messages – found widely across Facebook.

“Reactions are fun and fast, and they reduce overload in groups too. We’ll continue improving them by adding an even broader range of expressions in the future,” WhatsApp said in a blog post.

It also said the increase in file sharing size from 100MB to 2GB was aimed to enhance collaboration among small businesses and school groups.

Meanwhile, also in the coming weeks, Group Chat admins will be able to increase the number of members to their groups, as WhatsApp promises the feature will be available soon.

Independent WhatsApp monitor WABetaInfo, which shares updates coming to the service from its beta testers, reported that WhatsApp would release the ability to react to messages to more people, but the feature would take up to 7 days before reaching everyone.

Another feature reported by WABetaInfo, expected to be rolled out to iPhone’s iOS users soon, is the ability to view a contact’s status directly within a chat or from the recent list of chats.

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The roll-out of the status viewing feature and others is expected to come into effect with the next update on iOS, Android and desktop versions of the platform.

Despite these features making their debut appearance on WhatsApp, many of these features are already available on rival platforms, which already allow high-sized file data transfers in lossless quality.

In recent years, WhatsApp privacy concerns have come under the spotlight regarding over-sharing of data to other Meta-owned platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

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While WhatsApp has always promised end-to-end encryption in chats and messages, privacy concerns saw an exodus flock to reportedly “more secure” communications apps such as Signal and Telegram.

In efforts to maintain users, WhatsApp has placed emphasis on community engagement with the new features expected as well as an upcoming Communities feature, for public shared interest groups – much like the feature available on Telegram.

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