The huge WhatsApp upgrade we reported on last month is now available to everybody after a successful rollout. That means that anyone using WhatsApp can now use the new features, which can be grabbed by downloading the latest version of the app.
The WhatsApp upgrade means you can now include twice the number of people in a group chat, which is brilliant news for anyone who found 256 people in a group chat just wasn't busy enough. It's likely to be welcomed by business users who need to communicate rapidly with lots of people. The file size limit has been increased too, from 100MB to 2GB.
WhatsApp users can check whether they have the upgrade by creating a new group and selecting a contact to add to it. You should then see "1 of 512 selected" at the top of the window, or 1 of 256 if the rollout hasn't reached you just yet.
According to WhatsApp, "You can now send files within WhatsApp up to 2GB in size at a time, protected by end-to-end encryption. This is an increase from the previous limit of 100MB and we think will be helpful for collaboration." So it's clearly focused right now on business users rather than individual ones, but there's a new feature for the rest of us too.
But wait, there's even more new features.
What else is new with the WhatsApp update?
The long-requested reactions are now here, enabling you to respond with thumbs-up or heart icons when you want to reply quickly. It's something we've had in other messaging apps for a long time, so while it's well overdue we're glad it's made its way into the app at last. If you're disappointed by the available reactions, WhatsApp promises to add "an even broader range of expressions in the future" – although given how long it's taken them to add reactions in the first place, you probably shouldn't hold your breath.
The updates aren't the only reason WhatsApp is in the news this week. The firm has also reminded users about its disappearing messages feature, which automatically deletes chats after a specified period of one, seven or 90 days. The feature was introduced last year but it seems WhatsApp users aren't necessarily aware of it, and the seven and 90-day options have just been added to the app. "Deciding how long a message lasts should be in your hands," WhatsApp says. "We've become accustomed to leaving a digital copy of just about everything we type without even thinking about it."
The option isn't switched on by default and if you enable it, it won't apply to your existing chats: they're safe. But you can set it to apply automatically to future individual chats or group chats where you're the person who creates the group.