WhatsApp is rolling out an update to its billion-plus global user base that lets them share any kinds of files with other users.
The Facebook-owned messaging giant first debuted file-sharing early last year, though it was restricted to PDF and text-focused files such as .doc, .txt, .csv, and .xls. Last month, however, some users reported seeing an update within the app that allowed them to share any file stored on their device — on Android, iOS, or the web.
As is standard with WhatsApp, it normally trickles out new features to ensure everything works according to plan, and now it seems file-sharing is ready for prime time.
To access the new file-sharing tool, hit ‘Document’ in the little attachment icon as before.
Above: Attach Document
Now, rather than just seeing .txt and .PDF files, you’ll see other files too — such as .APK.
Above: Files to share
This also has interesting ramifications for sharing media files such as photos and videos. While it was certainly possible to share such files before with friends — I mean, who hasn’t shared a photo from their camera roll through WhatsApp? — it would compress the image and display it automatically in you conversation.
Being able to share the actual original file, in all its uncompressed glory, could be a minor game-changer for those wishing to share high-quality media files. But when you share an original photo, for example, it doesn’t display in a chat as a photo — it just shows as the raw file name.
Above: Uncompressed image
So does this update elevate WhatsApp into the peer-to-peer file-sharing leagues, whereby it can be used by creatives to share 4K videos with colleagues? Not quite — there are file-size limits in place: 64MB for the web, 100MB for Andorid, and 128MB for iOS, according to a report on XDA Developers.
In short, WhatsApp doesn’t want to become a de facto platform file-sharing platform, but it wants to make it easier for users to share stuff with each other. This is contrast to the likes of rival messenger service Telegram, which lets users share up to 1.5GB files.