WhatsApp is rolling out a great free upgrade for iPhone and Android

Share bigger files, talk to more people and react to messages with emoji

WhatsApp
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Good news for iPhone and Android WhatsApp users: the popular messaging service is rolling out its promised new features this week, enabling you to do more and talk to more people.

The update means you can now have much larger group chats, and you can also send much larger files than before. But the feature that's going to be used the most is the new reactions feature, which enables you to respond to messages with emoji. That's going to be particular important in group chats, where it's useful to show you've seen a message without adding to the firehose of messages. It's something we've already got in similar messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, and it's very useful.

The rollout is happening at two speeds, with reactions rolling out very quickly and the other changes rolling out a little more slowly.

Whatsapp reactions

(Image credit: Whatsapp)

Share more with more people

The group chat and file sharing improvements are more for business users. The maximum number of participants in a group chat is currently 128, but WhatsApp is boosting that to 512. The thought of being in that size of chat gives me the fear, but you can see the utility if you're in the kind of environment that needs to communicate with lots of people at once.

The other big change here is the increase in the maximum size of files. That's currently 100MB, but WhatsApp is boosting it to 2GB so you can send things you'd previously need to use a service such as WeTransfer for.

According to Meta, WhatsApp's owner, you should see the new features in your app within the next week or so; some users are reporting that they're in their apps today.

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).