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Having several work, friends or family WhatsApp groups is the norm. However, this often led to mishaps such as sending the wrong messages to the wrong groups and causing miscommunications among our loved ones and colleagues.
With WhatsApp’s latest feature, Communities, we no longer need to face that issue. In the future, you can consolidate group chats under one Community for easier and more structured communication.
Communities on WhatsApp help users bring together separate groups under one umbrella. This feature allows users to receive updates sent to the entire community and organise smaller discussion groups.
Admins of Communities will have access to tools such as announcement messages which could be sent to everyone and control which groups can be included. As Communities are “inherently private”, all messages will still be protected with end-to-end encryption and admins have the right to kick out any groups as well. On top of that, Communities cannot be searched for.
For example, if you are a school principal with multiple groups and you need to inform your students of an important update. Instead of manually forwarding one message to multiple groups, Communities help you put all the groups under one umbrella before blasting your announcement out in a few clicks. That way, nobody will miss out on any announcements, making Communities perfect for schools, organisations, and local clubs.
Currently, Communities are only available in selected countries as it is still going through beta-testing. Once they have beta tested and fixed the bugs, Communities will be available globally.
Ms Jyoti Sood, the product manager at WhatsApp said the company is “building support” and “working on different platforms at different times.” That means, the Communities function will be made available to the desktop and web version in time to come. For a start, it will only be accessible through mobile.
Presently, any message can be forwarded up to five chats at a time. Under the new improvement, “any message that has already been forwarded once will only be allowed to be forwarded to one group at a time instead of five – which is (how) it is today and in the past.”
Ms Sood added, “What this does is it creates a little bit more friction. It slows them down a little bit more in the process and creates more intentionality, where they have to think, “Do I want to keep sending it to a second group, the third group, the fourth group?”
“So they’re still able to do it, but we’re just limiting that you can only do it one group at a time.”
These new changes will be implemented progressively from 14 Apr 2022.
Aside from Communities, WhatsApp will roll out a slate of other improvements in the coming weeks. The improvements are:
- Admin Delete
- File Sharing
- Larger Voice Calls
In the near future, users will be able to react to messages quickly to prevent others from flooding the chats with new messages. Ms Sood said, “Users will be able to send emoji reactions soon as a lightweight response to express their sentiment on a message instead of filling up their friend and family chats with new messages.”
Group admins will be able to remove messages which are “errant or problematic” from everyone’s chats.
WhatsApp will increase file sharing to support files up to 2GB. This allows users to collaborate on projects easily, without switching platforms.
Larger Voice Calls
They will introduce one-tap voice calling for up to 32 people with new designs.
Voice Messages Updates
A recent WhatsApp Update that you might have missed is their updated voice messages features. The new features launched on 30 Mar, aid in allowing users to have more expressive conversations. The six new features are:
- Out of Chat Playback – Listen to a voice message outside of the chat as you read and respond to other messages.
- Pause/Resume Recording – You can now pause or resume the recording when ready.
- Waveform Visualization – Show a visual representation of the sound of the voice message. The waveform helps you follow the sound of the recording more easily.
- Draft Preview – Listen to your voice messages before sending them.
- Remember Playback – You can pick up where you left off by returning to the chat if you pause when listening to a voice message.
- Fast Playback on Forwarded Messages – Play the voice messages at 1.5x or 2x speeds. This feature is applicable to both regular and forwarded messages.
WhatsApp Launching Communities
WhatsApp chose to focus on supporting the groups which are part of our daily lives. As Communities is a new feature on WhatsApp, we can look forward to more updates and features for the year to come.