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WhatsApp update brings array of improvements, including message reactions, bigger chats and larger files

·2-min read
Stock photo of the WhatsApp app icon on a smartphone (Nick Ansell/PA) (PA Archive)
Stock photo of the WhatsApp app icon on a smartphone (Nick Ansell/PA) (PA Archive)

WhatsApp has added a host of new changes, including one of its most obviously missing features.

Users will now be able to react to messages with emoji, responding to chats without having to go to the full length of writing out a post.

The changes also bring a much larger file limit and bigger chats.

Many of the features were already present in competing apps, such as Telegram and Slack.

And they come as WhatsApp is pushing its new ‘Communities’ tools, which aim to allow people to have a hub for different conversations such as in a school or workplace. All of the new changes will come to traditional chats, too, but WhatsApp pointed out that they came as it looked to increase the ways that people use the app.

The new reactions and increased file size limits are available in the current version of the app, and everyone will have them soon if they don’t already. Larger groups will arrive “slowly”, WhatsApp said in its announcement.

Probably the biggest change in the new update is the addition of reaction emoji, the characters of which are borrowed from Facebook. Users can click on a post and heart it or give it a thumbs up, for instance, without filling up the chat with a whole new message.

New emoji will be rolling out over time, WhatsApp said. For now it is limited to a very small set of default emoji and without support for skin tones.

WhatsApp will also double the default maximum size of a group. They have been capped at 256 for years, but will now increase to 512.

File size limits have also grown even more. They are currently limited to 100MB, but now users will be able to send messages with files up to 2GB in size.

WhatsApp warns users that they should send bigger files over WiFi, to allow them to transfer more quickly and to avoid using up too much data allowance.

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