Facebook-owned instant messenger service WhatsApp is one of the fastest growing social networks on the planet. To keep up with the growing demands of its millions of users, the app frequently receives updates to add new features.
To get these new features, you will need to have the latest version of WhatsApp, v2.12.51. The update is currently available only for Android and iOS users. You can download the app from the respective app store, or update it from your phone if you already have it.
The new update completely changes what you can do with a video shared in WhatsApp. For starters, any video you download now has the same “pinch to zoom” mechanism that you find in photos. It’s a little difficult to pan-and-scan once you are zoomed in, but you’ll get the hang of it soon enough.
Additionally, a new option lets you open any video in a pop-out floating window, just like playing YouTube videos in the background. This way, you can pop that video out and let it continue playing, while you browse your other WhatsApp messages.
Finally, WhatsApp also has basic video editing features now, including cropping or trimming the video to reduce its size and reshare it.
So until now, if you found a gem of a PDF, you couldn’t previously share it with your friends on WhatsApp. Similarly, the mobile phone and credit card bills that land in your email inbox in PDF format couldn’t be “WhatsApped” to someone else who needed to verify or approve them.
Well, all that changes in the new WhatsApp, as you can now finally send PDFs to others, along with most of the other popular document formats.
Share Photos from Cloud Drives
Speaking of sharing documents, that’s one of the handiest new features in the WhatsApp update. Now, when you tap to share photos, you can simply dive into your favorite online cloud drive and add pictures from there.
WhatsApp has added support to let you send documents from cloud-based drives like Google Drive and Dropbox, along with your internal storage. It’s a small step towards making it easier to share anything.
Of course, you’ll need that cloud drive’s app installed and set up on your phone to be able to access its files. I’d highly recommend having Microsoft Office or Google Docs installed on your smartphone to take advantage of all these file-sharing capabilities.
So, your contacts can now send you documents. Add to this fact that photos and links were already shareable, and WhatsApp has a whole lot of media flying around. How do you track it all? Our previous suggestion was to use hashtags to make search easier, but that’s made redundant by WhatsApp’s “Starred Messages”, introduced in the last big update.
Thankfully, WhatsApp now auto-sorts all the links, documents, and photos or videos shared in any chat, whether a group or individual. Just open a chat, tap the three-dot options icon in the top-right corner, and select “Media”.
You’ll find three tabs for Media, Documents, and Links, which house all the relevant items shared in that chat. It’s super useful and my favorite new feature in the update.
Clear Chat but Keep Starred Messages
Speaking of Starred messages, their utility can’t be denied. However, those who liked to clear their chats—especially if your Android is running low on storage—also used to lose these Starred messages in doing so.
The new update now lets you choose to retain these Starred messages while clearing the chat, so that the important stuff stays and the inane banter goes away. Nice and easy!
Control Download Settings for Data or Wi-Fi
WhatsApp is aware of how many of its users are worried about the amount of data it uses while connecting to the Internet through Edge, 3G, or 4G. A new setting allows you to minutely control this data usage.
Go to Options (Three-dot icon) > Settings > Data Usage and you will find extended options to control how and when media is auto-downloaded. So when you’re using mobile data, you can set it to download only images; while roaming, no media; and when you’re on Wi-Fi, to download everything.
There’s also an option for “Low Data Usage” when making a WhatsApp Voice Call, although this was already present in earlier version and is not part of the new update.
Get New Features First with WhatsApp Beta
Traditionally, new features for WhatsApp for Android debut first in a beta version of the app, which enthusiastic users can download from the WhatsApp website. Well, now you can be a part of this beta and get automatic updates from the Play Store.
WhatsApp has launched an official beta distribution channel on Google’s Play Store, through which you can try out new features before anyone else. Be warned that a beta app can have bugs, so we don’t advise this for everyone.
To gain access, go to the WhatsApp Beta page, click the “Become a Tester” button, and download or update the app from the Play Store.
What’s Your Favorite WhatsApp Feature?
That’s plenty of new stuff in WhatsApp, from pinch-to-zoom for videos to advanced control over how it affects your data. My favorite part is, without doubt, the auto-sorted links, documents, and media, which makes it easier than ever to find something a friend had shared.
What about you? Which new WhatsApp feature has you the most excited? And while we’re at it, what feature do you hope WhatsApp adds next?