Signal gets some of WhatsApp's best features to make switching easier

Signal hero
Signal hero (Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Signal's beta app is getting an update with many new features that can be found on WhatsApp.
  • The new features include chat backgrounds, custom status updates, animated stickers, and more.
  • The update brings Signal's feature-set more to parity with that of other popular chat apps.

Thanks to the privacy drama around WhatsApp and Facebook, Signal is enjoying a new swath of active users. The company has consistently ensured its customers that privacy is first and foremost its number-one priority, which should make those coming in from WhatsApp feel at ease. And while Signal may have had a bumpy rode supporting all its new users, it's determined to become that app that users can be happy to use, and its latest update adds a ton of features that should make former WhatsApp users more comfortable.

  • You can add different backgrounds for individual chats by clicking on the person's name, or for all chats by going to Settings > Appearance > Chat wallpaper. You can choose between several solid and gradient colors and even select photos taken from your smartphone.
  • You can now add custom "About Me" text to your profile, selecting an emoji and typing a short blurb which can also act as a status message.
  • The app is now getting animated stickers, with its first pack, "Day to Day", already available. You can make your own stickers to share with friends using the desktop app.
  • Low-data mode for calls lowers the amount of data that calls use up, which may be ideal for those on limited data plans.
  • You now have the ability to have up to eight people on a call, up from five before.
  • You can select your download preferences to let the app know when to automatically download media files.
  • You now have the ability to share a group invite link that lets others join their group chat.

Many of these features are already available on many of the best messaging apps, so it's nice to see them being implemented on Signal, given its recent rise in popularity. The features are rolling out to Signal beta v5.3.1 which you can sign up for on the Play Store. And if you're still on WhatsApp and considering switching over to Signal, check out our how-to guide on moving your group chats from WhatsApp to Signal.

Derrek Lee
Managing Editor

Derrek is the managing editor of Android Central, helping to guide the site's editorial content and direction to reach and resonate with readers, old and new, who are just as passionate about tech as we are. He's been obsessed with mobile technology since he was 12, when he discovered the Nokia N90, and his love of flip phones and new form factors continues to this day. As a fitness enthusiast, he has always been curious about the intersection of tech and fitness. When he's not working, he's probably working out.