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WhatsApp Begins Testing Communities On Android

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WhatsApp has started public beta testing of the Communities feature. Touted as a “major evolution of WhatsApp” by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Communities is rolling out to beta users on Android with version 2.22.19.3 of the messaging app. A public rollout should follow in a few weeks.

The Communities feature in WhatsApp has been in development for almost a year now. It lets you bring together multiple sub-groups under one bigger group. This feature makes it easier for large organizations or educational institutions to communicate with employees or students. For example, a school can have individual groups for every class but also a large community for all parents and guardians. Admins can find all of these groups and communities in one place for easy communication.

Communities will get a separate tab within the WhatsApp app, alongside Chats, Status, and Calls. It will replace the Camera tab on the extreme left. You can create up to ten groups with up to 512 members each within a Community. Members of one group can move to another group within the Community based on their preference. They can also leave a group without leaving the community.

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As soon as you create a Community on WhatsApp, a group is automatically created under it. This works as the announcement group where Community admins can send messages. These messages are visible to all members of the Community.

First spotted in development in November last year, Zuckerberg officially announced Communities for WhatsApp in April this year. In his announcement post, the Meta CEO stated that the new feature will roll out to users slowly over the coming months. More than four months after the announcement, Communities is now rolling out to beta users on Android. If everything goes fine, WhatsApp may soon make the feature available to everyone globally.

WhatsApp will hide your phone number in Communities

Communities are slightly different from the existing groups on WhatsApp. While the latter is predominantly used for communication with close friends and contacts, the former can have people that you don’t know personally. To ensure privacy, WhatsApp will hide your phone number from Community members that you don’t share a group with. This feature will be enabled by default but you can disable it if you’re comfortable sharing your phone number with others.

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However, the initial beta release doesn’t include the ability to hide your phone number. It appears WhatsApp is not ready with it yet. Subsequent releases should add it. We will keep an eye on the developments around WhatsApp Communities and will let you know when we have more information.

WhatsApp Communities beta