WhatsApp announces 5 major new features rolling out this year

WhatsApp is by far the most popular mobile messaging platform on the planet, with more…

WhatsApp is by far the most popular mobile messaging platform on the planet, with more than two billion users worldwide. But despite its popularity, WhatsApp still lacks several key features that other chat platforms have had for years. The company plans to address some of those shortcomings this year with five major additions.

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WhatsApp Communities coming soon

On Thursday, the WhatsApp team shared a blog post detailing five new features currently in the works for the mobile app. First and foremost is a new feature called Communities. As the team notes, organizations like schools, clubs, and non-profits use WhatsApp to communicate and coordinate plans. With Communities, WhatsApp users can gather separate groups in the same organization under one umbrella.

Users in a Community can join relevant groups to connect with the people they need to be in touch with. Communities also give admins the ability to send announcements to everyone in every group and add or delete groups in the Community.

“We think Communities will make it easier for a school principal to bring all the parents of the school together to share must-read updates and set up groups about specific classes, extracurricular activities, or volunteer needs,” the team explains.

WhatsApp also ensure users that Communities will be encrypted:

Communities are inherently private, which is why we will continue to protect messages with end-to-end encryption. This security technology has truly never been more necessary to protect people’s privacy and safety. Close knit groups — schools, members of a religious congregation, even businesses — very much want and need to be able to have secure and private conversations without WhatsApp monitoring their every word.

WhatsApp Communities can contain several group chats. Image source: WhatsApp

5 new features coming to WhatsApp

In addition to the Communities feature, WhatsApp is working on a number of other updates for group chats. These will be available in every group, regardless of whether or not it’s part of a Community, and they should roll out in the coming weeks:

  • Reactions – Emoji reactions are coming to WhatsApp so people can quickly share their opinion without flooding chats with new messages.
  • Admin Delete – Group admins will be able to remove errant or problematic messages from everyone’s chats.
  • File Sharing – We’re increasing file sharing to support files up to 2 gigabytes so people can easily collaborate on projects.
  • Larger Voice Calls – We’ll introduce one-tap voice calling for up to 32 people with all new design for those times when talking live is better than chatting.
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These will all be welcome improvements to the world’s biggest chat app. It’s honestly pretty baffling that emoji reactions weren’t already part of the platform. If you’ve ever been part of a large WhatsApp group chat, you know just how busy they can get. Giving users the option to react with an emoji will save users from a lot of tedious scrolling.

These new features should all be available before Communities. WhatsApp has yet to provide any specific release timing for the Communities feature.