You can finally send emoji reactions on WhatsApp

9 May 2022

Image: © PhotoPlus+/

No more endless emojis in response to individual messages in groups. WhatsApp is now rolling out a new feature to keep up with competitors such as Telegram.

WhatsApp has finally started rolling out a host of new features it promised users in April, including the long-anticipated emoji reactions to individual messages.

“We’re excited to share that emoji reactions are now available on the latest version of the app. Reactions are fun, fast and they reduce overload in groups too,” the Meta-owned company announced in a blog last week.

Initially, users will only be able to react to messages with six emojis, but WhatsApp said it will be “adding an even broader range of expressions in the future”, similar to apps such as Slack and Telegram.

Other new features being rolled out include sharing large files up to 2GB in size (up from the previous limit of 100MB) with end-to-end encryption. Users will also be able to add up to 512 members to a group chat at once – double the previous limit.

Screenshot of WhatsApp app on a phone with emoji reactions to a message that reads "Reactions are now available on WhatsApp".

An example of what reactions look like on the app. Image: WhatsApp

The features were first announced in April, when WhatsApp revealed it was working on a new Communities feature to improve group chats and enter the “next generation of private messaging”.

Communities is essentially a ‘group of groups’ that will help users organise all their group chats and find information quicker.

For example, school principals could create communities for parents to access information from the individual class groups present within those communities. Neighbourhoods could also have their own communities to discuss happenings in their area.

A lot of the new features are catering to the needs of groups rather than individual chats. Emoji reactions, for instance, may be helpful when participants in a chat want to react to an individual message without crowding the conversation thread with emojis.

Larger file sharing, too, is set to “be helpful for collaboration among small businesses and school groups”, according to WhatsApp. The larger group size limit is a response to high demand for the feature from users, the company added.

“With our vision for Communities on WhatsApp, we’re now building for organisations, businesses and other close-knit groups to communicate securely and get things done on WhatsApp,” it said in last week’s blog.

However, while WhatsApp is keeping up with competitors such as Telegram in terms of features tailored to groups, CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared in a Facebook post in April that “our messaging services are built around one-to-one text messaging – and that will stay the core of what we do”.

Zuckerberg, who recently told employees to ‘move fast’ and ‘live in the future’, added that Communities represents a natural evolution of WhatsApp from a way to connect with close friends and family to a place where users can stay in touch with “all of the different communities in your life” while still ensuring privacy and security.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic