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WhatsApp ‘Communities’ feature could change how groups work

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 01 February 2022 13:31 GMT
(Getty Images)

WhatsApp is continuing to work on a “Communities” feature that could completely change how groups work.

The feature has been rumoured for months, and an early iteration of it appeared in a beta version of the app in November. But new betas show that it is not only still in process but also has new tools being added to it.

Neither WhatsApp or parent company Meta have not acknowledged the major feature update yet. New discoveries from WABetaInfo – which tracks WhatsApp updates before they come to the full, public version – show extra features being added to “Communities”.

From the start, WhatsApp’s group chats were intended to just be like a larger version of a normal chat, with limited numbers of people who all knew each other and discussed a wide range of topics.

Over time, however, they have become something else entirely. They are used by groups of people who might not know each other especially well and come together around specific topics, such as being colleagues, a group of students on a course, or a club.

It is seemingly in that context that WhatsApp has been working on the communities feature. It appears intended to bring together a large group of people and let them discuss certain specific topics in an organised way.

All members of a workplace might join and find specific groups for parts of an office or particular teams, for instance, or students on a course might join specific groups for each particular class. That is akin to how Slack or Discord work, both of which are organised communities and then have smaller and more specific channels within that community.

Recent betas show that WhatsApp is working on a “Community Home” page as part of that new feature. It shows all the chats that are linked to one specific community, WABetaInfo said.

That would allow administrators to manage groups together, using particular options that are not clear at this point. It would also allow for particular control of the chats themselves, the site reported.

It is still not clear when or whether the communities tools will come to the public version of WhatsApp. While references have appeared in the beta version of the app for months, such large updates can take many more months to arrive – or might be abandoned entirely before they are released.

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