Messaging platform WhatsApp has announced the launch of its discussion group feature, Communities, and other new features; in-chat poll creation, 32-person voice/video calls, and a larger group option of up to 1024 users.
This announcement was made on the WhatsApp blog today. The update has started rolling out to users globally and will be available to everyone in the next five months.
The Communities feature entered beta testing after its conception earlier this year. This feature aims to make groups communicate better by enabling sub-groups and providing an opportunity for more users to interact and connect.
Multiple groups and conversations can now be connected and grouped under one umbrella, providing a more organised conversation pattern on the messaging platform.
Benefits of the new “Communities” feature
This new feature brings a plethora of new advancements to the messaging platform. However, most of these advancements have already been launched on the platform a while back, like emoji reactions, larger file sharing, and admin control features.
Other features like in-chat polls, 32-person video calls, and a larger group option of 1024 users will also be particularly helpful for the new feature, “Communities”, especially as it was created for a wider array of individuals.
How does it work?
Users will need to upgrade their app to access the new communities feature. A new Communities tab will appear at the top of chats on Android and the bottom for those using the iOS version.
From there, you can start a new community or add existing groups to a community. The communities feature also offers end-to-end encryption to its users
Communities are structured with one main announcement group, which alerts everyone of the most important messages.
Members of a Community can easily switch between available groups to get the information they need when they need it, and admins can send important updates to everyone in the Community.’
WhatsApp Communities feature vs others
The idea of a Communities feature is not new to the social media ecosystem. Similar concepts are present on other platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Members of WhatsApp Communities are already connected in the real/virtual world through phone number sharing with one another or an admin and are in discussion for a common interest.
However, the phone numbers will be hidden from the wider Community and only made visible to admins and members in the same sub-groups
Facebook Groups, which are somewhat similar to WhatsApp communities, are more focused on dispersed members who only share a common interest.
Unlike Facebook Groups, which can be discoverable on the platform, WhatsApp Communities are hidden. A search and discovery feature will not be available; members must be invited to join.
For Twitter communities, it seems a little different as it is more like an “exclusive space” where people with certain requirements can join. Although there are two types of communities on Twitter, none seems to be as similar as WhatsApp’s new feature.
Other features rolling in
32-person voice and video calls
The group voice and video call capacity on the messaging platform has been increased to 32 people from the participation of only 8 users. It is unsure whether this will affect the video call interface to accommodate the increased number of callers.
Also, with these new feature capabilities, WhatsApp might even be able to compete with rival communication platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Larger groups of up to 1024 users
WhatsApp has also expanded the group capacity from 512 to 1024 participants.
More people can participate in larger groups, which might be useful for business operations. Organizations, clubs, schools, and other private groups can communicate better and stay organized,
Group admins can remove unwanted or offensive messages from everyone’s chats.
WhatsApp is increasing file sharing to support files up to 2 gigabytes so people can easily collaborate on projects.
In-poll WhatsApp chats
The capability to conduct polls has also been added to messages. Group members can establish in-chat polls on the messaging platform to gather feedback on various topics.
Due to the growth of its groups, and the introduction of the communities feature, this feature will be useful.
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