Major WhatsApp update rolling out now — here are all the new features

Smartphone showing WhatsApp
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Update: WhatsApp gets an upgrade to make group calls less painful

WhatsApp is rolling out some huge changes set to make the service that much better — and in some cases much closer to competing messenger apps. Among the changes are the ability to react to messages with emojis, send files up to 2GB in size and even bigger group chats.

Also, WhatsApp's much requested edit button is finally being tested

Previously group chats could include up to 256 people at any given time, which is already a pretty big number. The latest version lets up to 512 people take part, and you better hope they’re not all trying to talk at once; that would sound like a nightmarish conversation to try and keep up with.

The increased file-sharing size is more than welcome. The previous limit was just 100MB, which isn’t a great deal these days — especially if you want to share video. 2GB may not sound like much, but it does offer a great deal more flexibility when it comes to sending things via WhatsApp.

But given how slow the app can be when sharing larger files, especially if you’re off Wi-Fi, it might take a while to send a full 2GB file. So use this new limit sparingly, or on your home Wi-Fi network, if you can. The good news is WhatsApp will have a counter, showing you how long uploading and downloading files will take.

An image of all the new features added to WhatsApp

(Image credit: WhatsApp/Meta)

Emoji reactions aren’t the biggest deal in the world, by comparison. But they are a feature that exists on multiple other platforms, including on Facebook statuses. According to WhatsApp reactions are “fun, fast, and they reduce overload in groups too." 

In a one-on-one conversation, the difference between a reaction and sending an emoji message is minimal. But in a large group? WhatsApp is right, the last thing you need is up to 512 people sending emojis.

You can send a reaction by tapping and holding on the message in question. A little pop-up window will then give you six options: thumbs up, heart, cry laughing, shocked, crying, and hands-together/praying. More will come in the future, though there’s no specific timeline on when.

whatsapp emoji reactions announcement

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

According to WhatsApp the features are “slowly” rolling out, having started last week. If you don’t have them yet, WhatsApp expects everyone to have them towards the end of this week. Looking to the future, the next big WhatsApp update is rumored to allow users to silently leave group chats

Of course, WhatsApp isn't the only service out there with features like this. The best WhatsApp alternatives are available, should you wish to avoid Facebook/Meta in all its forms. 

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.