WHATSAPP has made a number of big changes to its app this year, and there’s a good chance you missed one or two of them.
While the new features don’t represent a complete overhaul of the messaging service, it’s something you should be aware of.
The changes were unveiled earlier this year and have been live in the app for several weeks.
Importantly, you can access all of them if you are using the latest version of WhatsApp iOS and Android apps.
The biggest change is the addition of Facebook-style message reactions.
This allows you to react quickly to a message without having to send an entire text.
These include thumbs up, love heart, crying laughter, shocked face, sad tear and praying (or high five).
Just hold your finger on a message to respond to it.
“Reactions are fun, fast, and also reduce congestion in groups,” WhatsApp said.
“We will continue to improve them by adding an even broader range of expressions in the future.”
WhatsApp previously said it plans to add multiple skin tones and all emoji in the future.
That’s not the only change: Group chats are also getting bigger.
WhatsApp group size used to be a maximum of 100 people before changing to 256 in 2016.
Now the new limit is 512 participants in a single group chat.
It comes before WhatsApp adds its long-awaited Community feature, which lets you create “parent groups” that contain lots of group chats.
The final change in this major update is the ability to send much larger files via WhatsApp.
You used to be limited to 100MB of files, but the limit has now been raised to 2GB – a twentyfold increase.
“We believe [it] will be helpful for collaboration between small businesses and school groups,” WhatsApp said.
“We recommend using Wi-Fi for larger files, and we’ll display a counter while uploading or downloading to let you know how long your transfer will take.”
These new features are rolling out today, so be sure to check your app (and app stores) regularly for updates.
If you want to try upcoming features before everyone else, consider joining the WhatsApp beta to test changes using our guide below.
To download WhatsApp Beta for your smartphone, you need to go to Google Play on your Android and search for WhatsApp.
Scroll down the page until you see “Become a Beta Tester”.
Tap the “I’m in” button, then tap “Join” to confirm.
Now all you have to do is wait for the update to the beta version of the app.