WhatsApp is adding a brand new feature in its latest update: the ability to share any file type.
WhatsApp previously supported only documents, photos, and videos, but now users can share any file up to 100 MB. This new update could prove to be incredibly useful for people who want to share executable or other obscure files.
It could also be useful for people who use WhatsApp at work who would otherwise have to share via email. Combined with the desktop and web apps, this makes WhatsApp a powerful lightweight messaging service that you can use with teams or within a small business, in addition to using with friends.
"There is a huge benefit to being able to send any file type through WhatsApp. More importantly, the ability to send uncompressed media up to 100MB, means that activists can privately share extremely high quality photos and video for human rights purposes," said Nathan Freitas, Director of Guardian Project, a mobile security software collective, in an emailed statement to Mashable.
"While there is some risk here that WhatsApp could cause the spread of malicious malware versions of Android apps, there is also great benefit that people can share apps directly, without the need for app stores. This is helpful for people who live in countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, and China where certain apps are banned or censored, or where Google Play doesn’t exist at all."
Freitas said that there would be no risk on iOS, since the Apple App store process is much more locked down.
Damon McCoy, a Computer Science and Engineering professor at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, said that "most cellphones unless you root them will only allow you to run apps if they’re from official stores." In regions where rooting is more common, this could potentially open up users to malware.
While most people only use the app on their phone, the web and desktop clients could be used for file sharing — which would mean that the same threats of clicking on links and downloading files on the web would apply.
Though it started as a basic chat app, WhatsApp has steadily added more advanced features like video calling. The new update also adds a small but neat feature — opening to camera view automatically shows a roll of your recent photos and videos.
In some countries it’s common practice to root your phone — in regions like this might be more of a security concern. Still, we think it’s worth a download. The update rolled out to both iOS and Android users today.