WhatsApp is getting 3 super-useful features – here’s how to get them

Two phones showing new features on WhatsApp
(Image credit: WhatsApp)

WhatsApp is so easy to use that it's managed to become the messaging mainstay for most families, but it's still possible to run into the odd quirk or frustration. Fortunately, the app is in the process of fixing three of those annoyances with some new updates.

The first two refinements are coming in an iOS and Android update that has started rolling out globally and will be "available to everyone in the coming weeks". To get these boosts to polls and sharing photos, you'll need to wait for new version to arrive or check your app store for the latest update.

WhatsApp's poll improvements are particularly handy for social organizing. You can now create single-vote polls, to stop people from skewing the results with multiple votes. To do that, you'll just need to un-toggle the 'allow multiple answers' option when creating a poll.

An iPhone screen on a yellow background showing a new WhatsApp feature

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

If you've ever had trouble finding a poll in a chat, you'll be pleased to hear that you can also now search for polls in your chats with the new update. On the 'Chats' screen, just tap the search box and you'll now see 'Polls' in the list of results. Lastly, you'll also now get notifications when people vote on your polls and will be shown how many people have voted in total.

Outside Polls, the second big usability improvement is coming to the process of sharing photos or documents. Previously, forwarding photos or images to another group came with the potential issue of someone else responding before you had a chance to add some crucial context.

An iPhone screen on a yellow background showing a new WhatsApp feature

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

Fortunately, you'll now be able to add captions to photos and videos when you forward them, and also edit existing captions that are tied to images that you're sharing. It's the same deal with sharing documents, which now give you the option of adding a witty or insightful caption when before you send them on.

While these two updates are surprisingly big quality-of-life upgrades for WhatsApp users, a third upgrade – which could let you transfer your chat history to another iPhone without needing to use iCloud – could be even more useful when it comes out of beta.

Simpler chat backups are coming

An iPhone screen on a yellow background showing a new WhatsApp feature

(Image credit: WAbetainfo)

A report from WABetaInfo has revealed that WhatsApp has made a handy new feature available to some beta testers that lets them transfer chats to another iPhone without having to go via iCloud.

This is particularly useful for those who don't pay for extra iCloud storage beyond the free 5GB limit. That limit can prohibit you from transferring lengthy chat histories to a new iPhone, but this new method could get around that by letting you do the transfer within WhatsApp.

Apparently, the process will be as simple as registering on WhatsApp with your usual phone number, then using your old phone to scan the QR code shown on your new phone in order to transfer your chat history. There'll also be a similar feature available for Android fans who don't want to transfer their chats via Google Drive.

Unfortunately, right now this feature is currently only available to WhatsApp beta testers on iOS and Android, and this beta program is currently closed to new testers. On Android, you can check to see which beta testing programs are available by going to the Play Store, tapping your profile icon in the top right, tapping 'Manage apps and devices installed', and then tapping an app to see if it has a 'join the beta' option.

Still, beta features do frequently get rolled out to the full version of WhatsApp, so this is one we're hoping to see in a full release in the coming months.

Mark Wilson
Senior news editor

Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at both TechRadar and Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.