Sometimes a message doesn't need a full reply but not giving anything in return feels like you're leaving your sender hanging. If you're messaging in Instagram or Facebook or Messenger you have the simple option of adding a reaction in the form of an emoji. You can also use reactions on Slack and iMessage on an iPhone but until now, not in WhatsApp.
All that is about to change though, as Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday on Facebook (opens in new tab). The new update rolling out on Android and iOS will allow for emoji reactions on chats. Initially, this will be limited to one of six different emojis (thumbs up, red heart, laughing face, surprised face, teary face, hands together/thanks/prayer) but could be extended to more options at a later date.
As on Instagram and Facebook, you can send a reaction by simply long pressing on the message. There are some limits though: you can only send one reaction per message and reactions to disappearing messages will also disappear.
In addition to the reactions, Whatsapp is increasing the size of file that can be sent at any one time from 100MB to 2GB. There will also be a counter when uploading or downloading to tell you how long you have to go.
For those large work, school or social WhatsApp groups, the number of people allowed in a group is being increased to 512. That should be plenty for most people, and is probably a group message you're going to want to mute pretty quickly if that gets active. You'll also be able to have voice calls with up to 32 people.
Whatsapp seems to be much more popular in the UK than it is in the US. I've often started groups and found that American friends either don't have an account or rarely check it. These new additions don't feel like they are going to massively attract new users but for those of us that do use it regularly to keep in touch with friends and family, i'll give this news a hands together thank you emoji.