Communities are basically the group chat to end all group chats
Group chats on WhatsApp are great, but they’re not without their limits. Rumors of “Communities” — a feature that would allow users to create groups or groups — first started making the rounds late last year. January brought more proof of the feature, with the first mentions of Community Home being found in a WhatsApp beta. Today we finally get an official announcement confirming that the potentially game-changing chat experience will start arriving soon.
Mark Zuckerberg himself took to his Facebook page to announce that WhatsApp Communities has entered the testing phase. The feature will appear as a new tab (like Status and Calls) within the app, and is set to slowly roll out over the coming weeks.
Multiple groups will be able to come together under one Community, facilitating the sending of announcements and updates to all participants in one go. That sounds ideal for organizations like schools, local clubs, and non-profit organizations that could contain tens, or even hundreds of WhatsApp groups.
Since its inception, WhatsApp has been a great platform for connecting with friends and family without a lot of distractions (no global feeds nor posts from people not on your contact list) from strangers. But the Meta-owned app is now much more than just a messaging platform in many parts of the world — it’s being used for business transactions, online meetings, and more. And many of these organizations are limited in what they can do.
WhatsApp’s walled-off nature — where each group chat is like a cubicle separated from everything else — has become a hindrance for people who want to do more. And it doesn’t help that groups are limited to 256 participants, with no option to create channels with much greater capacities (unlike Telegram). Communities will address many of these issues without compromising the end-to-end encryption and safety tools that have made WhatsApp one of the most popular messaging services around.
WhatsApp’s also getting a few more interesting features for group chats (both within and outside Communities). For starters, admins will now be able to delete messages sent from anyone in a group. We’re also seeing some limits within the app increase, like users being able to share large files (up to 2GB) in one go, and holding group conference calls with up to 32 participants. Finally, WhatsApp’s introducing reactions for emoji lovers, starting with about six smileys (including the thumbs up) — devs are working on expanding that to include more emoji and skin tones.
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