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Forget WhatsApp groups, here come communities! Time to say goodbye?

WhatsApp Groups is one of the most important features for users. However, there are reports hinting it may be replaced by something called WhatsApp Communities.
WhatsApp Groups is one of the most important features for users. However, there are reports hinting it may be replaced by something called WhatsApp Communities. (REUTERS)

WhatsApp Communities feature has been spotted on the latest beta version of Android. Will WhatsApp Groups feature be renamed, or will Facebook add social features to the encrypted messenger? Here’s what you need to know.

Things are not looking too good for WhatsApp Groups feature. At best it will get an alternative called WhatsApp Communities and at worst, it may be replaced by the same. WhatsApp is currently working on a new feature, spotted inside the popular encrypted messaging app’s code during a recent APK ‘teardown’. The new feature, dubbed Community, may work alongside the service’s popular Group feature, according to reports. The feature joins the list of multiple features WhatsApp is currently working on (or testing) on the beta version of its app.

This new Community feature was spotted by XDA Developers on the latest beta version of WhatsApp for Android. Analysis of the APK for WhatsApp beta version 2.21.21.6 has revealed the code for a new Community feature that could possibly offer social media functionality, separate from the Group function, according to the report. However, it might also simply be a way for users to better organise groups on the chat app, according to a feature leaker WABetaInfo.

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The report suggests that WhatsApp Groups, which are very popular in countries like India and Brazil, might simply be a better way for users to organise groups. The feature might also allow users to host groups “inside” a Community, according to a report. However, this is merely speculation at this stage as the feature itself has not yet been revealed and XDA has only spotted references to the feature inside the app. Meanwhile, the feature leaker says that this is unlikely to be a new feature, instead offering users a better way to handle groups on the app.

XDA had stated that having the groups feature alongside (or under) the recently spotted Community feature could mean that group owners (or Community owners) might be able to select new roles for users such as ‘community managers’ while gaining better control over groups.

Significantly, it may even allow messages to be shared across a larger community, which is something that will fill the current void.

This means that while it is also possible that WhatsApp will simply change the name of its Groups feature to Community, according to the report, we will only know what the capabilities of the feature are after the company works on the feature in future versions of the app. As with many beta features across applications, it is possible that the feature is eventually dropped over its feasibility.

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