Signal just received a new update, and it seems to be rolling out a number of new mainstream features in anticipation of a flood of users incoming from WhatsApp. This update consists of a broad range of features that seem to add a lot to the service, beginning with chat wallpapers. With this update, users can pick from a collection of backgrounds and apply them to chats individually or choose one to apply to all chats.

Signal is also sending support for animated stickers live with this update. Alongside this functionality comes the first official animated sticker pack called “Day by Day” by Miguel Ángel Camprubí, but users have the option of creating their own animated stickers through Signal Desktop too.

In addition to stickers, there are a few more social features arriving with this update. For instance, there’s a new About section in Signal Profiles, which is a mostly self-explanatory profile page. You can now also view others’ profile photos in full screen by tapping on them, and you’ll even see Signal chats pop up in your suggestions when you’re sharing something from another app, which is a useful touch as it potentially saves you from copying & pasting as you bounce between apps.

We also have some improvements to the way Signal functions to look forward to, with the company saying that it’s lowered data usage for calls and given users the ability to pause and resume attachment downloads. In addition to doing that manually, Signal will also pause attachment downloads automatically while a call is in progress. Image compression has also been improved, which hopefully means better image quality across the board, and finally, Signal will now display the senders’ names in group chats when you’re looking at expanded chat list previews.

In a lot of ways, Signal seems to be laying the groundwork to make any incoming members from WhatsApp feel a little more at home. Earlier this month, WhatsApp drew controversy when it announced that it would begin sharing some data with Facebook, potentially causing some users to look elsewhere for an encrypted messaging service and landing on Signal. Signal’s new update brings the app to version 5.3.1 and is available now, so give it a download and take the new features for a spin yourself.



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