Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp yesterday announced several new features.

QR codes, animated stickers and more

According to the company, the desktop edition of WhatsApp now has:

  • QR codes for easy contact sharing: WhatsApp says that “soon” you’ll be able to scan someone’s QR code when you meet them using the app’s code-scanning functionality, which will add the person to your contacts.
  • Animated stickers: New expressive animated sticker packs are rolling out now.
  • Dark mode for WhatsApp web and desktop: The darkened interface that was previously implemented in WhatsApp’s mobile app now extends to your Mac with support for macOS Dark Mode and in the web app at web.whatsapp.com.
  • Improvements to group video calls: With now up to eight people on a video call, you can focus on whoever you want by pressing and holding a participant’s thumbnail, which will maximize their video to full screen. “We also added a video icon in group chats of 8 or less, so you can easily start a group video call with 1-tap,” WhatsApp says.
  • Status comes to KaiOS: KaiOS users can now enjoy the popular feature that lets them share ephemeral updates that disappear after 24 hours.

The company shared a video showcasing these new features in action.

The new features are being released in stages over the next few weeks. If you don’t yet see them in your copy of the latest versions of WhatsApp, check back a few days or weeks later.

Thoughts on animated stickers

WhatsApp says that stickers are one of the fastest growing ways people communicate on its platform, with billions sent every day. I was surprised learning about that figure because I thought other chat platforms like Viber are more focused on stickers than WhatsApp.

But I get why this is happening because, recall if you will, how stickers used to be all the rage a few years ago popularized by the discontinued private social network Path. And now we’re now seeing a resurgence of interest in animated stickers, which is fine with us.

WhatsApp Desktop is available on the Mac App Store for free.

WhatsApp vs. iMessage

I’m a big fan of iMessage, but I must admit that in the past year or so I’ve seen many of my iMessage-loving contacts increasingly using WhatsApp for their daily messaging needs.

Now, I’m not saying Apple should be worried about WhatsApp because iMessage is limited to the company’s proprietary platforms — and will continue to be for the time being given iMessage is one of the strongest incentives that keeps people within the Apple ecosystem.

WhatsApp, on the other hand, is a multi-platform play that has become a juggernaut after Facebook bought it. Note that Facebook’s big plan for the future calls for the unification of its messaging platforms into an iMessage-like service with seamless support for SMS.

That is precisely what Apple should be afraid of.

What’s your favorite chat platform?

What’s your go-to messaging service these days, and why? Speaking from anecdotal evidence and personal experience, would you say that the majority of your friends continue to use iMessage on a regular basis? Or are they slowly but surely defecting to WhatsApp?

Leave your thoughts in the commenting section down below.