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whatsapp

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WhatsApp video calls are now official, coming this week to all users

WhatsApp video calls started showing up for some users last month, but you either had them enabled on your device or you had to use root to trigger them. Otherwise, you couldn't do anything but wait until the feature went official. And now is the time.

WhatsApp has announced that video calls are going live for users across Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone devices. The rollout might take a couple of days, so be patient if the feature doesn't seem live to you just yet.

whatsapp

So how do you place a video call? When you tap the call button in any chat or any contact screen, you'll see two options for voice and video calls.

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WhatsApp enables two-step verification and can now play audio messages in the background

We've known WhatsApp would be enabling 2-factor authentication for many months now, but the functionality has only just gone live in some of the latest beta versions of the app (2.16.341 and above, maybe even earlier).

If you head over to your account settings in WhatsApp, you'll see a new Two-step verification option. Tap it to get to a screen that explains what 2-step verification is and get the option to enable it.

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Video calls are going live in WhatsApp

WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps on the planet, so even small changes warrant some attention. This isn't a small change, though. This is a big one. WhatsApp is rolling out support for video calls in the Android app, but not everyone has the feature yet.

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WhatsApp's latest beta finally, finally, finally lets you send GIFs

WhatsApp's GIF support has been rumored and promised and quasi-implemented for months now. In August, we got our first glimpse at GIF support through the option to convert videos with 6sec or less duration to GIFs that could then be shared with any of your contacts. Now, the option that has been hiding in the APK for months, and that some people have enabled with a root hack, is official for all beta testers.

Version 2.16.293 beta of WhatsApp finally adds the third GIFs tab when attaching a media file from the Gallery, next to Photos and Videos. In it, you'll find all the animated GIFs that are saved on your device's storage and you'll be able to pick any one of them, preview it, append a caption to it, and share it with your contact or group.

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WhatsApp adds image/video drawing and stickers, front-facing flash, and more

It can be hard to keep track of what's new and old in WhatsApp thanks in part to the beta program that's always testing a ton of stuff. This time, WhatsApp was good enough to make a blog post announcing some of the camera features we saw in a recent beta are official now. Starting today, Android users will be able to doddle on pictures, use their screen as a flash, and more.

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WhatsApp's public group links are now live in the latest beta (bonus: quick media forward icon)

WhatsApp's public group links have been rumored for months and we've even been able to join public groups since June, but unless you had modified the app thanks to some root-only shenanigans, you couldn't issue links to any groups just yet.

Now the feature is live in version 2.16.281 of the app, which is still in beta. If you're the admin of a WhatsApp group, when you go to add a new participant to your chat, you will have a new Invite to group via link option at the top of your contacts list. Tapping it opens a new screen with the unique link to your chat, which you can share via WhatsApp (although that does defeat the purpose, nah?), copy, share via any other app, or revoke.

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[Water gun] WhatsApp brings iOS 10's emojis to its latest Android beta

[Not Allo] If you want Allo, this is what you're looking for: one, two, three.

With that out of our system, WhatsApp's latest beta v 2.16.274 has implemented one change we were all probably not looking forward to all that much. Just like the web app a couple of days ago, WhatsApp now uses new emojis throughout its whole interface. They are, predictively, the same ones that Apple has introduced in iOS 10 with their more 3D-looking designs.

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Editorial: Google Allo looks a lot like WhatsApp, not Hangouts, and that's not necessarily a bad thing

... and a lot like Telegram. And Facebook Messenger. And plenty of other messaging apps too. But enumerating those would make for a very long title so I had to restrict it to the most popular messenger out there.

Google Allo, unlike its sister app, Duo, has its work cut out for it. While Duo doesn't have a clear competitor in the simple one-on-one mobile messaging field, especially on Android, Allo faces a roadblock of established opponents that have had years to develop their featureset, userbase, and public image. On the one hand, this gives Allo the opportunity to start fresh without any unnecessary remnants that other apps and services carry because of their older origins and the room to learn from what has and hasn't worked for them, but on the other hand, it also puts Allo at the very bottom of a very steep hill.

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WhatsApp adds user mentions for group conversations

One of the features we've been expecting WhatsApp to add is the support for mentions in group conversations. That way, not only you would be able to quote someone or some specific message, you'd also be able to directly address a contact inside a group to get their attention. This feature is now live in the latest WhatsApp beta v2.16.272.

When you're in a group chat, try typing the symbol @ and you'll get a list of all the participants in that chat. You can tap any of them or just type the first letters of anyone's name and it'll narrow down to them.

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[Update: Video drawing too] WhatsApp Beta adds image drawing and stickers, bigger emojis, front-facing flash, one-finger video zoom

WhatsApp's developers suffer from a bit of a delay when it comes to updating their changelogs on the Play Store. Yesterday, they pushed version 2.16.262 (followed by 2.16.263) to the beta channel on the Play Store, but the changelog mentioned features we've seen in v2.16.230 like forwarding to multiple contacts and frequent chats, but didn't say anything about the new feature that was really newly implemented in 2.16.262: image drawing, nor did it say anything about the big emojis we've been seeing since 2.16.256. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's start with the official changelog.

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