WhatsApp is finally catching up with Slack and Discord with new text customization options

(Image credit: pixabay)

WhatsApp first added text formatting tools in 2016, such as bold, italics, strikethrough, and monospace. In 2017, the messaging, voice, and video app added a floating text toolbar - and then basically nothing else for years, letting the competition get far ahead in options. 

But now there’s a new desktop beta version coming soon that will introduce several new text formatting options, like bold code block, quote block, and bulleted list formatting, according to WABetaInfo

screenshot of whatsapp text formatting

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

The screenshot of the update above shows us what said formatting will look like once the update drops: code block wraps text inside a different colored window, quote block makes a portion of a message jut out more by putting a vertical line on the left side, and bulleted lists are great for quick note taking.

Unfortunately, while WhatsApp is greatly enhancing its range of text formatting options, it still hasn’t introduced numbered lists or spoiler tags. These are features that rival messaging apps like Slack and Discord currently have, with Telegram even letting you edit stories. 

However, thanks to updates earlier in 2023 you can add captions when sharing a document on WhatsApp and record and share voice notes as a status instead of plain text.

WhatsApp needs to improve itself and fast. 

WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging applications in the world, with over two billion users across Latin America, India, and large swathes of Europe and Africa. So the fact that it’s still so behind in terms of features compared to much less widely used and well-known apps is baffling, to say the least.

Much is probably chalked up to the fact that no other app comes close to challenging WhatsApp in terms of popularity, especially in regions outside the US. But that said, nothing is ever guaranteed and if Meta — WhatsApp’s parent company — wants to ensure that it retains its top spot, it needs to push out more quality-of-life options for text customization.

Meta has been adding other features in 2023 and earlier such as transferring chat logs, sending video messages, editing and adding new contacts in the app, sending HD photos, and more. So it has been improving the overall user experience, which is a good sign, but it needs to become more aggressive in its approach in order to stay relevant. Or else an existing rival or new app could come in and steal its thunder. Just ask Skype.

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Allisa James
Computing Staff Writer

Named by the CTA as a CES 2023 Media Trailblazer, Allisa is a Computing Staff Writer who covers breaking news and rumors in the computing industry, as well as reviews, hands-on previews, featured articles, and the latest deals and trends. In her spare time you can find her chatting it up on her two podcasts, Megaten Marathon and Combo Chain, as well as playing any JRPGs she can get her hands on.