Being one of the fastest growing social networks on the planet, WhatsApp needs to keep reinventing. Its users expect it to get better and better. Slowly but surely, the instant messaging giant has been adding some useful features.
When we last looked at new features in WhatsApp, it had introduced pop-out videos, sending PDFs and documents, sharing from cloud drives, and more. There have been several changes since then. These are the highlights you should know about.
Tag Individuals in Group Chats With @ Mentions
WhatsApp groups can get overwhelming. Opening the app to see 300 new messages, you don’t know if you actually need to read all of them. In a new update, WhatsApp is solving this problem of information overload by adding “@” mentions.
When you type the @ symbol in a group chat, a menu will pop up listing all the people in that group. Select the person you want. Now that person will receive a notification that they have been mentioned in the chat.
Notifications from @ mentions show up even if the person has muted the group chat.
For your own @ mentions, you might see your phone number instead of your name. To fix this, add yourself as a contact in your smartphone’s address book.
Send and Receive GIFs
GIFs are the language of the internet, and you can now finally talk with them on WhatsApp. Android users will need to use WhatsApp Beta for this feature, but it’s already rolled out on the iOS version.
When you go to attachments > Gallery, you’ll see a new GIFs option, next to Images and Videos. Add the GIF to send it on the chat. If the receiver is using a compatible version of WhatsApp, they’ll be able to tap the GIF to play it.
GIFs also apparently work on WhatsApp for Windows Phone now, but we can’t verify that just yet.
Snapchat-Style Image Editing
The new trend in sharing images is to annotate them. Snapchat started the fad of adding an emoji or some custom text. Then Instagram copied it with Stories. Now WhatsApp is imitating the feature too.
When you’re sharing an image on WhatsApp, you’ll see three options in the corner:
- Emoji icon — Add an emoji to the photo. You can rotate these as well.
- Text icon — Add some funky text to your photo.
- Paintbrush — Draw with your finger on your image, after choosing a color.
New Ways to Shoot Photos and Videos
In its latest update, WhatsApp has three new ways to simplify taking pictures and videos.
- When you use the front-facing cam to take a selfie, you can now switch on “Flash”. This brightens your screen to full, casting more light on your face.
- In camera mode, double-tap the screen to switch between front and rear cameras. This works for both video and photo.
- When shooting videos, slide two fingers up or down the screen to zoom in or out, respectively.
It’s all going towards fixing common problems in cell phone cameras.
Quote Messages for Clear Replies
In a free-wheeling conversation, it gets difficult to track what sentence someone is replying to. A new feature adds context to replies by quoting the original message.
When you’re replying to a message, long-press that message. You’ll find a “Reply” arrow button on top. Tap that, and type your reply. When you send it, it’ll quote the original message and add your reply.
This way, others don’t have to wonder which point you were replying to, or scroll up to see the message.
OneDrive Support on Windows Phone
A while back, WhatsApp on Android got backup support for Google Drive. It let users backup their WhatsApp messages, images, and videos to Google Drive, so that they could be retrieved at a later time.
Windows Phone users can now rejoice with a similar feature that works with Microsoft’s OneDrive. Now, OneDrive isn’t the most reliable storage system, but for something as simple as this, it’ll get the job done.
Make Text Bold, Italics, and Strikethrough
It has been some time since WhatsApp added basic text formatting, but not many people know how to use it. It’s surprisingly simple.
Make text bold by adding asterisks: add an asterisk (*) before the first letter and after the last letter, to make everything in between appear bold.
For example, *MakeUseOf is awesome* will appear as MakeUseOf is awesome.
Make text italic by adding underscores: add an underscore (_) before the first letter and after the last letter, to make everything in between appear italicized.
For example, _MakeUseOf is awesome_ will appear as MakeUseOf is awesome.
Add strikethrough to text by adding underscores: Add a tilde (~) before the first letter and after the last letter, to make everything in between appear with a line going through it.
For example, ~MakeUseOf is awesome~ will appear as
MakeUseOf is awesome.
Control Your Privacy
Recently, WhatsApp started sharing its information with Facebook. At some point, you probably got a message about this, with a convoluted note. Maybe you ignored it, maybe you didn’t pay attention and accepted it. But if you’re not careful, WhatsApp will share your private profile (but not your phone number or chats) with Facebook.
Thankfully, it’s a simple process to stop sharing WhatsApp info with Facebook. In WhatsApp, go to Settings > Account and uncheck the box next to “Share my account info”.
Which New WhatsApp Feature Is Your Favorite?
Given the several new features available in WhatsApp now, everyone has their own favorite. My love for GIFs is no secret, so I’m obviously most excited about that one.
What about you? Which WhatsApp feature has got you wide-eyed?