WhatsApp is set to roll out a new feature on iOS that will allow users to send their photos and videos as a document. This will allow the files to maintain their original quality, rather than be downgraded and compressed to allow for easier sending.
The move was first spotted by WABetaInfo in the official WhatsApp 23.24.73 update changelog. The update notes users can now easily send original quality media as a file. This change would be an alternative to the current defaulted method that compresses these files before sending them.
There were reports that this feature was being tested as far back as November, but it is now an official addition for iOS users in the patch. Android users should note that a similar feature has been tested on their devices since around September, so it is likely to be made available to them as well. There is currently no indication that there will be any difficulty in sending these files to Android users from an iPhone.
There have indeed been several methods for sending images as documents before, but they can be somewhat complex and less viable for the less tech-literate. The main known method was to manually change the file extension. These extensions are the group of letters at the end of each file, for example .JPEG or .PNG file. The method used was to change the file to either a DOC or a PDF and then send them.
The new change will essentially allow the user to do this but with considerably less effort. Supposedly the method will involve selecting the ‘+’ symbol in chat, selecting ‘document’, and then ‘choose photo or video’. Once the file is received the recipient can simply tap the the link and then view the file. However, there doesn’t appear to be a preview for the file and there is a 2GB size limit on what can be sent.
One factor that may be of some concern will be the security of the files that are sent, especially with no preview feature. While it's possible to hide your profile photo, status and last seen from strangers, there is no way to restrict other users from sending you messages. As such, the most prudent security measures would be to never open a file from an unknown source and to make use of the block function to protect yourself.
WhatsApp is one of the premier conversation tools on the smartphone, and any addition that makes its use easier should be embraced. The ability to send high-quality images to each other may not be a world-changer, but it's a quality-of-life improvement that will likely be appreciated by the billions of people using the app.
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Josh is a staff writer for Tom's Guide and is based in the UK. He has worked for several publications but now works primarily on mobile phones. Outside of phones, he has a passion for video games, novels, and Warhammer.