WhatsApp confirms a raft of fun new features, rolling out right now

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

WhatsApp has announced a raft of new features that will be rolling out to all users in the coming weeks. 

First (and arguably most fun) on the list is animated stickers. We saw hints that animated cartoon add-ons would be arriving back in June, when they appeared in the app's beta release. At the time, it seemed like they were only in an early stage of development, but WhatsApp has confirmed that they will be rolling out to all users in the coming weeks, much earlier than expected.

It's also getting much easier to share your contact details with people, thanks to the introduction of QR codes. Rather than having to swap phone numbers, you'll be able to scan a code from a friend's phone.

Instagram (also owned by Facebook) already has a similar feature in the form of Name Tags, but WhatsApp will use regular black and white QR codes.

Darkness spreads

Dark mode is being expanded too, and will soon arrive for both desktop and web versions of WhatsApp. We got a peek of the new design back in February thanks to an eagle-eyed developer who spotted unused code in the WhatsApp web app, but it'll very soon be available officially for everyone to try.

Group video calls are also getting an update. In April, WhatsApp increased the maximum number of participants in a video call to eight, which was enormously helpful (particularly when socializing in person was impossible due to Covid-19) but meant you could only see a very small image of each person on your phone's screen.

In future, you'll be able to quickly zoom in on any person by simply tapping and holding their picture to make it full-screen. 

Finally, the Linux-based KaiOS operating system will now be able to create their own WhatsApp Status – a message that disappears after a certain period of time, much like a story on Instagram or Facebook.

All these new tools and features are expected to take a couple of weeks to roll out fully, but should be available and ready to use very soon.

Cat Ellis
Homes Editor

Cat is Homes Editor on TechRadar, specializing in kitchen appliances and smart home technology. She's been a journalist for 15 years, is a keen home cook, and is here to help you choose the right tech for your home, get the best deals, and do more with your new devices.