Gadgets & apps

This article was published on April 14, 2022

WhatsApp’s new Communities feature sounds like Slack for noobs

The feature will roll out slowly


WhatsApp’s new Communities feature sounds like Slack for noobs
Ivan Mehta
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Ivan Mehta

Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh." Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh."

WhatsApp’s finally recognizing that people use the chat app as more than a personal communication tool. So the company’s introducing a new Communities feature that can merge your existing groups of similar nature under one umbrella.

For instance, if you have different groups related to your living complex, they can be clubbed under one community.

WhatsApp says this new feature will also bring tools like cross-group announcement messages:

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“We think Communities will make it easier for a school principal to bring all the parents of the school together to share must-read updates and set up groups about specific classes, extracurricular activities, or volunteer needs.

Communities will also contain powerful new tools for admins, including announcement messages that are sent to everyone and control over which groups can be included.”

Mark Zuckerberg said that the firm will start rolling out Communities slowly, so we can expect this feature to be limited to a few users in the coming weeks.

But to prepare for the community, WhatsApp is rolling out some other new features across the app. This includes the ability to share files as big as 2GB, emoji reaction to messages, tools for admins to delete messages in groups, and 32-person group calls.

How do all of these features stack up against other apps?

WhatsApp has been slightly late when it comes rolling out features that some of the other popular messaging apps already have. Case in point: Ephemeral messages and polls.

Telegram already has some of the above-mentioned features. For instance, Telegram has 1,000-people group calls, emoji reactions, and the ability to send 1.5GB files.

But WhatsApp’s marquee new feature, Communities, is akin to creating Discord or Slack servers.

I’ve seen a ton of my friends complain about getting their work and private chats mixed up as their organization used multiple WhatsApp groups to communicate amongst them. The Communities feature will let them access all these groups in one place under a dedicated tab.

While it’s easy to say “Why not use Slack?” for a lot of people learning a new tool is a hassle, and they’re comfortable with WhatsApp as a platform. Sure, they might be missing on a lot of organizational features of a

WhatsApp told me that you’ll be able to mute specific communities, but there’s no information if the mute time can be scheduled like Slack.

Notably, individual groups — even if they’re part of a community — will operate just like before. So you will see them in your main chat tab. I wish WhatsApp would introduce a function to toggle this.

As a next step, it would make sense for WhatsApp to introduce a feature to separate personal and community chats, including groups. So, what are you waiting for, Zuck?

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