Skip to main content

Emoji reactions hit WhatsApp as Meta fights the competition

WhatsApp is gaining a slew of new features some would consider overdue for a messaging app of its size. The company is adding support for message reactions, larger file shares, and bigger groups in an update that’s slowly rolling out across iOS and Android. Many of these features are present in other apps, notably Telegram, so WhatsApp is under pressure to keep up.

WhatsApp announces the emoji rollout.

Message reactions are the most noticeable feature for users on a day-to-day basis. They’re already present on Facebook Messenger, iMessage, Google Messages, Instagram, and Snapchat, so WhatsApp is a pretty late addition. At the moment only a limited number of reactions are present, but the WhatsApp team notes that a broader range of expressions is coming.

Emoji reactions are a quick way to reply to messages that don’t always merit more than an acknowledgment. You may laugh-react at your friend’s joke rather than sending ‘Lol’, heart-react to their engagement announcement, or sad-react to their credit card bill. In group chats they are a lot more useful as, rather than duplicate sentiments and generate dozens of redundant messages, people can simply react to messages.

Larger group chats, bigger files

Other than WhatsApp’s new emoji reactions, the app now has support for enhanced file sharing and larger group sizes of up to 512 members. Larger files up to 2GB in size can also be shared, up from 100MB in the previous version of the app. These two features, in particular, may be evidence that Meta, which owns WhatsApp, is hoping to prevent losing users to Telegram, as the rival messaging service had long since held its more expansive file-sharing support and larger group sizes as advantages over WhatsApp’s more limited offerings.

Facebook’s messaging apps may currently dominate the world, but the company must remain aware of the fates of apps such as BBM and Skype, messaging platforms which once stood at the top before being reduced to also-rans and punch lines. Adding new features that are considered standard in other apps is a must, if only to prevent users from one day gradually, then suddenly en-masse, adopting rivals like Signal and Telegram.

Editors' Recommendations

Michael Allison
A UK-based tech journalist for Digital Trends, helping keep track and make sense of the fast-paced world of tech with a…
Discord is making its Android app more like iOS, and in a good way
Discord app icon on the screen smartphone

If you own an Android phone, you may have noticed that the iPhone gets new features from your favorite apps before Android devices do -- or, in some cases, not at all. Discord is changing that by switching to React Native for its Android app.

According to a blog post written by Discord's product team, React Native is an open-source UI software framework that will allow the company to release new features across all platforms simultaneously. In other words, Discord users who have Android will receive all the new features the company introduces at the same the iOS app does instead of waiting for them to come weeks or months after iOS.

Read more
WhatsApp just upgraded its emoji reactions and I want them now
Close up of WhatsApp icon as seen on a smartphone display. Credits: WhatsApp official.

WhatsApp will now allow users to react to messages with any emoji, in an expansion of its reaction feature that came out last year. It's coming to iOS and Android over the coming weeks, and it brings more personalization to one of the world's most used messaging apps.

Once you get the update, the emoji reactions will work as they do now, with a long press bringing up the basic six options with the incision of a new plus button. Pressing that plus icon will show you the new expanded set of emojis, and you'll be able to add whatever emoji you want. This includes skin tone variations, family types, and more.

Read more
You can finally move your WhatsApp chats from Android to iOS
WhatsApp and Telegram app icons.

Moving WhatsApp chats from Android to iOS has been a painful task for years. But not anymore, as Apple and WhatsApp have made the process a whole lot easier. Starting today, Apple is adding a feature that allows you to move chats between the two platforms. The feature is a part of Apple’s existing “Move to iOS” Android application. It’s worth noting that the feature is currently available for beta users only, so non-beta users might have to wait for a week or two as it's rolled out in phases.

This is a big move since 2 million people use WhatsApp and, until now, there wasn’t an official method to move conversations between Android and iOS. There have been third-party solutions here and there, but nothing officially backed by Apple or WhatsApp. With the feature becoming available, users will be able to move their chats swiftly from Android to iOS.

Read more