WhatsApp's developers have had their hands full over the last few days, as WhatsApp released no less than five new updates to bring its app for Android up to snuff.

The latest update, version 2.12.194, brings it with it a host of new, interesting features that add extra functionality and convenience for WhatsApp users.

Among these new features is the ability to mark messages as unread, which is useful for users who want to have a visual reminder to get back at a message they have already opened and read. To mark a message as unread, one only has to tap and hold that message and change its status to unread. However, the markings of an unread status remain just outside the message. Inside the message, the sender will still see the familiar check mark that indicate the recipient has already read the message.

Also interesting is the return of Google Drive backups. The updated WhatsApp currently does not make it easy for users to initiate backing up to Google Drive. In the future, WhatsApp will hopefully create a more accessible option for this, but right now the only way to do Google Drive backups is to wait for the app to do its local backups, which will cause the app to notify the user that the backup has failed. To continue with the backup, one has to grant WhatsApp permission to access Google Drive, and WhatsApp will go on to seamlessly upload the chats and images, but not videos, to Google Drive.

WhatsApp has also added an option to include custom notifications for specific people, allowing users to know ahead of time who is messaging or calling them even before they take a look at their phone. Under the Media box in a contact or group, one will find a Notifications box that lets them mute notifications for as brief as eight hours or as long as one year. There are also new options to change the notification sound, length of vibration, popup notification, light and ringtone for a certain contact or group.

Lastly, WhatsApp pays heed to the woes of users on a limited or slow data plan by introducing an option to lower the amount of data used for voice calls. When WhatsApp debuted voice calls earlier this year, it was met with significant interest from users who were eager to use the new feature. However, many people, mostly those who use limited data plans or whose networks provide slow service, quickly found out that the voice calls took up too much or all of their data. The latest update for WhatsApp for Android should help safeguard users against consuming all of their data for voice calls. 

Photo: Sam Azgor | Flickr

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