With several new features, WhatsApp is blurring the lines between instant messaging and social networking. In fact, WhatsApp might beat Twitter as a social network for some people. And in its quest to serve its users, the Facebook-owned app has been making some changes. Let’s take a look at the latest new features in WhatsApp.
1. WhatsApp Status
If you’ve used Snapchat or know about Instagram Stories, WhatsApp Status will seem quite familiar. It’s a visual message — a video, photo, or GIF — that is broadcast to all your contacts.
Status shows up as its own tab next to Chats and Calls. In that pane, you will see all the statuses updated by your contacts. These remain active for 24 hours from the time of upload. People can upload multiple statuses in one day.
- To see a contact’s next or previous status, tap the right or left edge of the screen, respectively.
- To skip to the next contact’s status, swipe left.
- To comment on a status, swipe up.
To create your own status, tap the camera icon next to the status pane or the green floating icon in the bottom-right corner. You can choose to shoot a new photo or video (up to 45 seconds) or add a photo or GIF from your gallery. You can draw or write on the status, and even add emoji.
It’s just like Snapchat or Instagram Stories. You can see who has viewed your status, and anyone can reply to a status as well. And there are plenty of options for limiting who can see your status.
- You can send the status individually to a person or a group chat you’re part of.
- You can add it as your public status, which is seen by all of your contacts.
- Tapping the cog wheel next to “My Status” in Android, or the “Privacy” setting in iOS, lets you choose specific contacts to share with.
- You can also choose to share the status with everyone except a few specific contacts.
And just like WhatsApp encrypts all messages, Status updates are also protected from snooping eyes.
2. Two-Factor Authentication
You can never be too careful with your personal data on the internet. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is must-have safety requirement now. To ensure that someone else can’t hijack your WhatsApp account, enable 2FA right away.
Go to Settings > Account > Two-step verification and follow the instructions. You’ll be asked to add a six-digit passcode as well as your email address. The next time you register your phone number with WhatsApp, you will be prompted to key in this passcode or use the listed email address to get access to your account.
Make the passcode something you can remember, but unrelated to your actual phone number. For example, don’t use the last six digits of your phone number as your passcode. Your birthday probably isn’t a great idea, either.
3. Change Numbers and Keep Your WhatsApp Data
If you have changed your phone number, you can still continue to use the same WhatsApp account with all its data intact. Go to Settings > Account > Change number, and follow the instructions.
It’s best to backup WhatsApp completely before you start this. To do that, go to Settings > Chats > Chat Backup. Use both WhatsApp’s backup server and Google Drive for your backup.
We strongly advise that you read WhatsApp’s guide to changing your phone number before you proceed. Have it open on your computer or any second screen while you go through the process.
Once you change your number, the process is completely seamless for all your friends. They will see you on their WhatsApp list as before, even though your number has changed.
4. Search and Share GIFs
A few months ago, WhatsApp added GIF support in its beta app, and the feature has now rolled out to all users across all platforms. You can now search for and add GIFs as reactions, which is great, because GIFs are the language of the internet.
Tap the emoji icon, and you will see two tabs in the pane. The first has emoji, like it always did, while the second lets you search Giphy, a large repository of reaction GIFs. You never need to leave the chat window, as searching happens within the app. However, this feature won’t work when you don’t have an active internet connection.
Of course, you can continue to add GIFs from your storage. In the gallery attachment, you’ll see a way to upload photos, videos, and a third tab for GIFs.
5. Send Offline Messages on iPhone
For a long time, Android users enjoyed one feature their iPhone counterparts didn’t: offline messaging. If an Android user didn’t have an active internet connection, they could still reply to messages, which would be sent whenever they reconnected. But not on the iPhone… until now.
In the latest WhatsApp for iOS update, the company has added this ability, so you can type out and send these messages while offline. They’ll stay on your phone till you regain an internet connection, at which time they will be sent automatically.
6. Share More Photos
WhatsApp has also increased the number of photos you can share at one time. Now you can select up to 30 images at a time and send them together. Earlier, this was limited to 10 photos at a time.
Which WhatsApp Features Do You Want?
WhatsApp regularly keeps adding new features, but that doesn’t mean it has answered every problem its users have. And as WhatsApp adds more social networking features, it’s possible that your expectations and desires for the app have changed.
Which feature do you most desperately want in WhatsApp? What’s the update that would make you happy? Share your thoughts in the comments below!