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WhatsApp might be the biggest chat app on the planet but it’s certainly not had the best start to 2021. The service has faced a backlash from its billions of users after demanding that they accept new terms and conditions or face being blocked from the platform. With many concerned that this might mean more data being shared with Facebook – even though in the UK and Europe that’s not the case – some WhatsApp users have been looking for alternatives with some apps seeing record numbers switching to their services.
Now it seems one competitor is trying to cash in on WhatsApp’s PR disaster with a major update to what it offers its users. Signal has already seen a pretty dramatic rise in its user numbers with the app recently crashing due to the increased strain. However, those who have made the switch are now getting an upgrade.
As spotted by the team a WABetainfo it appears that Signal is bringing a swathe of WhatsApp-style features to its service which includes being able to change the wallpaper for specific chats and support for animated stickers.
Another important change is that the firm has upped the number of people who can chat on a group call with things rising from 5 to 8.
There’s also the inclusion of a low data mode which not only cuts down on usage when making calls but also allows users to adjust when downloads are made which should help avoid extra charges on your bill.
WhatsApp introduce new ‘Carts’ feature on the app
As WABetainfo points out, these are popular features on WhatsApp so it appears to be a targeted move from Signal.
Here’s the full list of new features available on Signal
• Adjust your media download preferences to control when attachments get downloaded (Settings > Data Usage).
• Raised the group call limit from 5 to 8, so now you can call it even.
• Share something funny from other apps with multiple Signal chats at the same time.
• Use the optional shortcut to enable a shareable group link when you create a new group.
• Additional file attachments can now be opened right from within the app.
• Now you can easily see the latest Signal profile photo that your contacts have chosen, but we added an option to always show system profile photos if you prefer the old behaviour (or start to miss the blurry photo of them from 9 years ago that has travelled across multiple SIM cards).
• Video quality and size improvements.
Signal is clearly hoping even more people will join its service but there’s no rush to make the decision.
The firm had originally set a date in early February but it seems they want to let things cool off a little before forcing users into accepting the new T&Cs.
Announcing the news WhatsApp said: “WhatsApp was built on a simple idea: what you share with your friends and family stays between you. This means we will always protect your personal conversations with end-to-end encryption, so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see these private messages.
“It’s why we don’t keep logs of who everyone’s messaging or calling. We also can’t see your shared location and we don’t share your contacts with Facebook. With these updates, none of that is changing.
“Instead, the update includes new options people will have to message a business on WhatsApp, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data. While not everyone shops with a business on WhatsApp today, we think that more people will choose to do so in the future and it’s important people are aware of these services. This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook.
“We’re now moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms. No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8. We’re also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp. We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15.”
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