A lot has been happening in Meta’s world and so let’s go over it all. You’ll find at least of the new features useful, or interesting at the very least. Do remember Meta owns Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and the new darling, Threads.
Earlier this year, Meta started rolling out Meta Verified – a subscription service that lets users verify their accounts and get a nice little badge to show for it.
They say you only need a government ID to verify your account but the badge will cost you $11.99/month on Web or $14.99 on iOS. See, it’s not just Elon Musk asking for real adult money for a little virtual badge.
In exchange, Meta is offering additional impersonation protection for accounts pretending to be you and providing direct access to customer support. Though this feature may seem unnecessary for regular individuals, public figures and organisations may find it essential to pay the monthly fee to avail of these benefits.
It’s taking a long time for the feature to roll out globally but we are seeing a few countries added to the list every month. There is no indication of when we can expect it in Zimbabwe, it’s not even clear if we should expect it all.
Channels let you privately follow people and organisations that you want to get updates from.
Kind of like groups where only the admins can send stuff but with a crucial difference – no one will be able to see anyone’s number. You won’t see the admin’s number or any other person’s, even if you follow the same person, neither can the admin see anyone’s.
There will be a new tab called Updates, which is where Status updates will be relocated too. So you don’t have to worry about Channel updates cluttering your Chats tab. If only WhatsApp followed in GB’s footsteps and also split groups and personal chats, that would be great.
Back to Channels, they will be stored for only 30 days and will disappear after that, there will be no permanent record.
If you’re the one creating a Channel, you can choose to let anyone follow you or you can approve requests.
For good measure, the same feature is rolling out on Instagram too. It’s called Instagram broadcast channels.
Silence incoming calls on WhatsApp
There are those among us that are too curious not to answer an unknown caller. These people, who are free from debt and the threat of violent debt collectors may not appreciate this new feature.
For the rest, you will now be able to set it up so that calls by anyone whose number is not saved on your phone will be silenced.
Facebook ads from WhatsApp
WhatsApp Business users, all 200 million of them, will be able to create Facebook and Instagram ads without needing a Facebook account. I imagine the pool of people who have WhatsApp accounts but no Facebook ones is tiny but it’s not about that, I guess.
It’s about the convenience of not having to go to Facebook to create ads when you prefer to operate in WhatsApp.
Moving WhatsApp chats to a new phone
You will be able to move your WhatsApp chats to a new phone more privately if that matters to you. Your chats won’t leave the device and that’s something some people would care about, apparently.
WhatsApp on the wrist
You can now use WhatsApp from your wrist with the new WhatsApp for Wear OS app. I don’t know who was asking for this but it’s here. You can use WhatsApp from your watch if you want.
I will concede that there are times when it can be useful, say you’re walking around with your phone in your pocket and receive a message that only requires a simple ‘noted’ response, it would be great if you didn’t have to whip your phone out for that.
Okay, now I’m starting to think a smartwatch is something I could want, just for WhatsApp on the wrist.
Threads chronological feed
Now, I am excited to see this. The Threads feed was terrible for my liking and a huge part of it had to do with the stuff the app thought I would like. I was getting updates from people I have zero interest in hearing from on my timeline and a boatload of early 2010s kinds of memes and a lot of Elon Musk hate when that doesn’t tickle my fancy.
That won’t be a problem going forward. Threads is rolling out an option for a chronological feed of only people you follow. Until the algorithm improves and actually suggests stuff you might find interesting, this new option is a godsend.
WhatsApp video notes
I don’t know who was holding their breath for it but it’s here now. WhatsApp is adding the ability to instantly record and share a video message in your WhatsApp chats. Think voice notes but add video. It could be useful when an insecure other half just won’t believe you are where you say you are.
I may be mocking it but I can totally see myself using it. I remember I wasn’t that excited about voice notes and yet that’s my preferred way to communicate these days. Did not see that coming.
For some reason, WhatsApp is introducing new features like they are about to expire. I’m not complaining, I love it. Let’s hope Zuck keeps them coming and shut those Telegram lovers up with feature parity.