Today, Meta has announced that WhatsApp will begin rolling out the Channels feature across the world over the next few weeks, starting with India, which follows a limited launch in Colombia and Singapore in June this year which expanded to more countries in July. The feature, which will exist on a separate tab and is designed to be a broadcast channel for businesses or pages that can share updates with many users.
The initial launch of Channels only allows for users who are subscribed to channels to just view the posts, however, this wider rollout now adds a few new features such as emoji reactions similar to within chat, as well as sorting and filtering available channels based on country. Admins also get new features like updating posts within a 30 day window, before the post is deleted from WhatsApp's servers.
Presently, Meta reports that there are now "thousands" of channels on the platform, but users are currently unable to create their own. Meta has stated that it will be opening up access to channel creation to everyone in the future but has yet to specify an exact launch date. Channels is a key area of development for Meta with reported updates to formatting coming which should further boost the viability of the platform as a communication route for businesses and pages.
With recent updates to the WhatsApp beta getting ready to add support for third-party chat clients outside of WhatsApp directly, this may also expand to the ability to send messages to WhatsApp users using Channels from other apps, which can schedule posts or have more complex business tools for managing social media pages. Additionally, with multi-account support being integrated into WhatsApp allows for users who run businesses or pages to switch between a personal or business profile on the same device.