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Signal's WhatsApp-inspired features released after a week in beta testing

Signal also posted a funky video ‘commercial’ on Friday (Data Privacy Day) featuring actor Taraji P Henson, informing users that they had more followers than they thought, and that Signal was different.

You can now pick from 12 colours, plus nine gradients - or pick your favourite image, as a chat background. 
You can now pick from 12 colours, plus nine gradients - or pick your favourite image, as a chat background.  (Signal Foundation)

WhatsApp may be slowly gaining popularity again as the dust slowly settles around the controversies surrounding its recently updated privacy policy. Meanwhile, Signal and Telegram, two applications that saw a big surge in new users over the past couple of weeks, have been hard at work adding new features in order to draw new users and keep them engaged.

Exactly a week ago, HT had reported that Signal had added three new features that were ‘inspired’ by WhatsApp to the app which went live in the beta version on January 22. These features are now live in the stable version of the app. Firstly, the messaging app has added custom chat background colours as well as allowing users to set their own background images. You can now pick from 12 colours, plus nine gradients.

Read more: Signal messenger facing internal opposition over upcoming features: Report

Thankfully, Signal has retained the option introduced in the beta titled “Dark theme dims wallpaper”, which is pretty self-explanatory the moment your phone sets the theme to dark mode, Signal will tint the wallpaper inside the app ever so slightly, so lighter wallpapers won’t blind you at night.

Another feature that was present on both Telegram and WhatsApp for the longest time was animated stickers. Signal is usually a little late to the party when it comes to adding features like these - but for good reason. The app’s developers only add in features (like searching for GIFs) when they are sure it can be implemented in a way that doesn’t negatively impact a user’s privacy.

The last (but certainly not the least requested) feature to make it into the stable version of the app is an ‘About’ section under a user's profile. Essentially a throwback to the days of computer messengers and BlackBerry messenger where you could inform your contacts what you were up to, the About section has been on both WhatsApp and Telegram for years. However, Signal promises that even this part of your Signal profile will be end-to-end encrypted, which is great news.

Signal also posted a funky video ‘commercial’ on Friday (Data Privacy Day) featuring actor Taraji P Henson, informing users that they had more followers than they thought and that Signal was different, seeing as it doesn’t know anything about its users. The video ends with Henson telling her viewers “Protect their s**t. Dwnload Signal, ya’ll’, while zooming into a signboard that says no personal data was bought or sold in the creation of the video.

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