What you need to know
- WhatsApp is working on new text formatting tools, including code blocks, quotes, and lists.
- The as-yet unannounced feature has been spotted in a recent update for WhatsApp Desktop beta.
- The new formatting options are currently in development and will most likely be available on Android and iOS in the future.
WhatsApp has been a bit slow to the party when it comes to releasing new capabilities, and an experimental feature may yet again demonstrate how the app still plays catch-up with the competition. A recent update to WhatsApp Desktop beta includes evidence of more advanced text formatting options.
According to WABetaInfo, the Meta-owned service is working on supporting syntax for code blocks, text quotes, and bulleted list formatting. These formatting options will add to WhatsApp's existing set of formatting tools, including bold, italics, strikethrough, and monospace.
On Android and iOS, you can access these capabilities with a long press. Meanwhile, the syntax-based formatting on desktop requires certain special characters to make your messages stand out the way you want them. As shown in the screenshot below, you can quote a message by preceding the text with ">."
It should be noted that the quote block can be used to cite a portion of a message in order to provide context. Meanwhile, users are currently limited to quoting an entire message.
Additionally, a code block can be formatted as such using an apostrophe at the beginning and end of the text. This encloses text in a window with a different color. Finally, you can precede the text with "-" to create a bullet list.
It's unclear whether WhatsApp will include these formatting options in the floating text toolbar, which contains all the basic formatting tools on mobile. In any case, there's a good chance these formatting options will make their way to WhatsApp on Android and iOS in the future.
WhatsApp is still missing a few handy formatting options that are available in some of the leading messaging apps. For example, it doesn't look like we'll be getting numbered lists or spoiler tags anytime soon. Spoiler tags were added to Telegram earlier this year, and even some of the other big players like Discord already have them.
WhatsApp remains a few steps behind the competition, but it's always reassuring to see the platform releasing new features on a regular basis, even if each new release is playing catch-up with its rivals.
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Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.