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WhatsApp is getting a big upgrade to take on iOS 14 Messages

WhatsApp
(Image credit: Sergei Konkov\TASS via Getty Images)

WhatsApp is adding a new feature to make your conversations even more fun. The popular chat service is getting animated stickers, which are slowly rolling out to users that have downloaded beta releases of WhatsApp on Android and iPhone. 

Stickers have been around on WhatsApp for awhile now as a way to personalize messages. Regular sticker packs are widely available to download and use with the Facebook-owned messaging app. Now, they'll be animated — think of them as mini GIFs. However, unlike GIFs, it seems that they are not looped, so they only "play" one time.

WABetaInfo reveals that the animated stickers will launch in three phases. In the first stage, some users will be able to view animated stickers. Once they receive animated stickers, those users can save, send and forward them. 

In phase two, users will be able to download animated sticker packs from third parties, just like they can do with regular stickers. Creators have already been hard at work to making animated sticker packs that can be used on WhatsApp. And then lastly, WhatsApp will add default animated sticker packs to the WhatsApp Store. 

Right now, WhatsApp animated stickers are like rare creatures that are hardly seen in the wild. An animated sticker creator will have to send one to you, so that you can view it and pass it on. And since this new feature is in its very early days, that may take some time to happen.

This update could help keep iOS users on WhatsApp and away from Apple's own Messages app, which is getting some major upgrades for iOS 14. These include the ability to @ specific users in a group chat, and start a thread from an individual message, which are features that other chat services have offered for years.

To get access to animated stickers, you'll first need to be a beta tester for WhatsApp. Android users will need the 2.20.194.7 beta and iPhone users will need the 2.20.70.26 iOS beta. Or you can download the WhatsApp Business beta.

Sign up to beta test the WhatsApp Android app here. The iPhone beta program is currently full, but you can keep checking for openings here