WhatsApp is releasing a small update that could have a big impact on how people respond to each other on the app.
Coming to Android and iOS, WhatsApp users will soon be able to react to messages with any kind of emoji (opens in new tab) beyond the current group of six. And judging from the announcement video, skin tones other than the basic cartoon yellow are included in the update. This change comes just a few months after the developers added the first round of emoji reactions, which was another highly requested update.
You can update WhatsApp on your phone to see if the revamped emoji reactions are available to you. We asked WhatsApp if there is a set date for when the feature will arrive for everyone, but we got no response. It looks like the update is coming out in waves rather than all at once. So if you don’t see the update the first time you check it, try again later.
For those who managed to get the update, you will find that it works just like the emoji reaction feature on Instagram. You long press on a message, then tap the More icon and the entire emoji library appears in front of you.
Hiding online status
In addition to the new emoji reactions, WhatsApp is currently working on two new features that improve chat logs and privacy.
O first future change will allow users to sync their chat logs across multiple mobile devices. It is similar to how Apple’s iMessage works. If you log into WhatsApp on a different device, you will have an up-to-date chat without missing anything. Reports state that the feature will roll out on Android and iOS, but as it’s still in early development, that could take a while.
The other big change will allow users to hide their online status. According to WABetaInfo (opens in new tab)users can let everyone see they are online or configure it to match their Last seen status, which has its own options. If someone wants to match their online status to their last seen, they can choose between “Everyone”, “My Contacts”, “My Contacts Except” or “Nobody”. My Contacts Except lets you choose which people in your contact list can see your online status.
WABetaInfo claims that hiding an online status has been a highly requested feature by users who want to use the app without being bothered by others or if they feel that someone is stalking them. This feature is also in development, so it will be a while before we see an official release. WABetaInfo claims that it will be released on iOS, Android and even the desktop version of WhatsApp.
Analysis: Healthy Competition
As far as emoji reactions go, it looks like this is a direct response to Telegram. Things are heating up between the two services because whenever one app adds a new feature, the other quickly adds its own version.
For example, Telegram added message stickers and reactions to its Premium version, and a few days later WhatsApp added the first six emoji reactions. Now we have the whole emoji library for free. When WhatsApp has started testing a new file transfer limit, Telegram has released its own version a few months later which can support up to 2GB for free or 4GB for Premium users.
This little battle, though, is good news for users. This has led to better services and long-requested features on both platforms. If you’re interested in knowing which app we think is best, we compared Telegram, WhatsApp and Signal a few years ago to see which is the safest.