WhatsApp’s latest update seeks to make groups better

WhatsApp groups can either be the most annoying thing or the best thing depending on where you are at a given time.

It is in WhatsApp groups where you can receive help on an emergency one evening. It is also very possible to wake up the following day and find yourself added to four different groups each of which demands money from your already empty pockets at the end of the day. You know, a funeral funds drive group here and three others that belong to your friends who are having weddings and automatically believe you will be interested in funding their extravagance. Or you just find yourself added to a WhatsApp group that you have no idea what it does.

Then there are also those of us who are in WhatsApp groups that while they may not be demanding on our wallets, are demanding elsewhere: attention. You know, those groups with chatty and chirpy members where just a 1 hour break from your phone results in you coming back to 400 new messages in the group.

Those are the issues that WhatsApp is addressing with today’s announcement that several new features targeted at making group messaging better are coming to the messaging app that is relied upon by over 1.5 billion users around the world.

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Top of the features is group descriptionThis, according to WhatsApp, “is a short blurb found under group info that allows you to set the purpose, guidelines, or topics for the group. When a new person joins a group, the description will show up at the top of the chat.”

With the latest update, WhatsApp is bringing the concept of a “super admin” that is found on rival Telegram. In WhatsApp groups, going forward, it will no longer be possible to remove group creators from the groups they started. Group admins will also be able to remove the admin status from other group members whom they’d bestowed the privilege on previously. Just like Telegram. This is interesting because there have been several hilarious instances of group creators and admins being kicked out of the groups they started.

Additionally, group admins will be able to dictate who can change the group icon, description and subject. So, those days of waking up to find that the group icon changed from a baby giraffe to an assault rifle with no possible explanation from the offending member in sight are over. Or the usual change in the group subject. You know, when that drunk colleague of yours changes the office fun group from “Company X deep minds” to “Leo tunalewa Nairobi West”.

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Other new features include the ability for group members to be searched for from the group’s info page. This is particularly helpful since it can be quite tasking scrolling through a group that has the maximum membership (i.e. 256 members) to find just one person. The group catch up feature will let users quickly catch up with messages that either mention them or reply to them when they have been away from a group for quite sometime by simply clicking on a new @ button that appears at the bottom right corner of the chat.

One more thing. In case you leave a WhatsApp group and some rude admins who can’t respect your decision keep on adding you back, WhatsApp will have your back.

The updated features are available immediately on the Android app.

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