Android and iPhone users just got a great new WhatsApp feature

The new Avatars feature enables you to make your app more personal without using your photos

WhatsApp icon on phone screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you're a WhatsApp user with an iPhone or Android phone, Mark Zuckerberg has some good news for you: writing on Facebook, he's announced (opens in new tab) that "we're bringing avatars to WhatsApp! Now you can use your avatar as a sticker in chats. More styles coming soon across all our apps."

The new feature, which is available now, enables you to create a personalised avatar to use as your WhatsApp profile photo in place of a real photo, and you can also use it as a sticker in chats alongside another 35 custom stickers.

WhatsApp avatars new feature on Android and iPhone

(Image credit: Meta)

Why avatars are better than emoji

WhatsApp's avatars and stickers are more personal than using emoji, and the collection is designed to represent lots of different emotions and actions that can express a wider range of actions than the usual emoji palette. They're similar to the Memoji in Apple's iOS or the personalised emoji in Gboard and third-party apps on Android. 

As Meta explains (opens in new tab) in its announcement post, "Your avatar is a digital version of you that can be created from billions of combinations of diverse hair styles, facial features, and outfits." In addition to the options you can use from today, Meta also plans to introduce additional options such as lighting and shading effects, hair style textures and other features to make your virtual you more you. It hasn't said when those additional features are coming, though: the official line is that they'll be coming "over time".

Although this feature is for WhatsApp, it's not unconnected to Meta's push for the "metaverse": in its current vision, you'll be represented in virtual and mixed reality by an avatar very similar to the ones now being offered in WhatsApp, so it won't be surprising if Meta starts making these avatars work across all its multiple apps and platforms in the not too distant future. 

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).