WhatsApp Channels is preparing for a global tour as the feature will be released to users in over 150 countries over the coming weeks.
As a quick refresher, Channels is the platform’s “one-way broadcast tool” allowing specific entities to send various forms of content like photos or videos to followers. It’s primarily a way for people to receive live updates from local government institutions, sports teams, artists, and celebrities. Channels is kept separate in its own section so you won’t have to worry about your chat rooms suddenly getting flooded with extra messages. The company states in the announcement post it protects “the personal information of both admins and followers.” The Channels you’re subscribed to will not be visible to anyone else.
Alongside the official launch, WhatsApp will also be adding four new Channels-centric features. All these are the result of user feedback the platform received during the testing phase.
First, there's Reactions to, well, react to posts using a single emoji. Everyone will be able to see the total amount of emojis a piece of content has to gauge whether it was well–received or not. Next is Forwarding, which lets subscribers share posts with friends. The forwarded message will “include a link back to the [source] so people can find out more.” Then there's the Enhanced Directory to help you find popular or newly formed Channels to follow. Do note that what you see in the Directory is “automatically filtered” for your country only.
There is more on the way as WhatsApp plans to expand the feature even further. Soon, Channel “admins will be able to make changes to their [posts]”. They have up to 30 days to make edits. After that, the platform will delete everything from their servers. Later down the line in the coming months, it will be possible for the average user to create their own personal Channel. A specific date was not given.
The upgrade is currently rolling out so keep an eye out for the patch when it arrives.
There is a waitlist for mobile devices that you can join on the WhatsApp Help Center page for Channels. The link doesn’t work on desktop however, possibly hinting that the expansion will be exclusive to smartphone users. We should mention WhatsApp has created its own Channel for users to follow and stay up-to-date on the future of the platform.
We reached out to WhatsApp asking when will Channels for desktop launch as well as when will people be able to create their own feed. This story will be updated at a later time.
In the meantime, check out TechRadar's list of the best encrypted messaging apps for Android in 2023.