How WhatsApp's Photo Quality Options Could Benefit Everyone

Collaboration is an option, but so is printing

Key Takeaways

  • WhatsApp reportedly will offer a new update that allows users to choose image quality when sending photos and images.
  • Experts say the changes will make it easier to print high-quality photos and benefit creative professionals.
  • Reports say a Snapchat-like feature for disappearing images is also in the works for iOS.
A female photographer holding a camera with portraits in the background.

After years of WhatsApp compressing images and videos by default, an expected update that allows users to choose image quality could be especially beneficial for those who regularly use WhatsApp to get work done.

WhatsApp appears to be working on an update that will allow users to choose their quality before sharing media with friends and family. While many likely won’t notice the changes, experts say the ability to send higher-quality images could be especially beneficial for creatives.

"I think for people who are heavy users of messaging apps from a professional point of view—whether it’s social media managers, graphic designers, creatives, reporters, journalists, all of those sorts of groups—this will be a helpful addition," Matt Navarra, social media consultant and industry commentator, told Lifewire in a WhatsApp audio message. 

"Because, often, if you want a specific image that you want to use for a news report, on TV, or in print or online, you’ll want the images to be as high-quality as possible." 

Why Are Higher-Quality Images Important?

Although WhatsApp is a popular way to send images and videos, the app compresses these files, so they don’t take forever to send and take up a huge amount of space on our mobile devices. After all, having your phone freeze up after downloading a random meme video or montage of your parents’ new puppy living its best life is never a good look. 

"By keeping that data in the knowledge repository, you make it easier to find. WhatsApp messages tend to be ephemeral."

However, sometimes WhatsApp automatically compressing photos can be annoying, especially if your job focuses on image quality.

To solve this, WhatsApp appears to be planning a new feature that would allow users to pick three levels of image quality when sending photos and videos. According to a recent report and screenshots from WABetaInfo, WhatsApp rolled out features in a beta update to offer different image and video quality levels after announcing these changes earlier this month. 

Screenshots from that website show that images and video will have three quality levels: "Best quality," to send images in the highest quality available; an "auto" setting that detects the best type of compression based on the image; and "data saver" mode, which compresses photos and videos to save space and data on your phone. Today, sending uncompressed images via WhatsApp is possible, but it requires sending photos as documents.

Even though WhatsApp may not always be an official channel for collaborating with colleagues, it can be especially popular with smaller companies and freelancers. More casual users of WhatsApp will have to watch their image settings to ensure that they’re not clogging up their storage with huge files, especially when traveling or living in areas where unlimited data plans are expensive or less common.  

"I think for the everyday user, most people probably won’t care so much," Navarra says, but notes that the new image quality feature will still be useful in those cases when people want to print out or edit photos they receive through the app.

Collaboration Potential

Sending higher-quality images on WhatsApp could make collaborating easier, especially when having crisp photos is vital.

A digital artist working at a computer and using a graphics tablet.

Pekic / Getty Images

However, higher image quality won’t solve all of the issues with using the app for work. While these changes help send nice images on the fly, the downside to WhatsApp as a collaboration tool is its lack of organization. While you can make group chats, it’s easy to lose specific messages and files if you don’t save them right away. 

Phil Simon, recognized technology expert and author of books including Reimagining Collaboration: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and the Post-COVID World of Worksays that even before the pandemic, those working at small companies and mature organizations alike were using WhatsApp for informal communication and collaboration.

However, he fails to see WhatsApp taking off as a mainstream collaboration tool for several reasons, including parent company Facebook’s reputation around privacy and security issues. 

"First, there are oodles of ways to share high-quality photos and videos with internal collaboration hubs such as Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Workspace," Simon told Lifewire in an email. "By keeping that data in the knowledge repository, you make it easier to find. WhatsApp messages tend to be ephemeral. Second, IT departments frown upon using Facebook in the workplace."

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