25 March 2020
Since its launch in 2009, WhatsApp has grown to become the world’s most popular instant messaging app with more than two billion users.
While its core function is still free instant messaging, additional features such as mobile VoIP calls, video calls, two-way encryption and Instagram story-like statuses have matured the WhatsApp into a much richer experience. With other instant messaging apps like Telegram, Signal and Line vying for their piece of the market, it still has a comfortable lead but it’s not resting on its laurels.
The rumour mill is always abuzz with chatter of new WhatsApp features on the horizon. In this blog, we’ve compiled all the much-talked-about WhatsApp features coming to a smartphone near you soon.
There has been talk of monetising WhatsApp through advertising since the app was acquired by Facebook in 2014. The expectation was that the adverts would appear within private or group chats, much to the irritation of many users. However, it looks like the adverts will play in between statuses, similar to Instagram’s story ads. This is great news for anyone hoping to market their business on WhatsApp, but it remains to be seen how well the feature will be received by the app’s users.
A feature all WhatsApp users are likely to welcome is the reported in-app browser coming to the platform soon. Almost every other app has a native browser (which generates web pages within the app when a URL is selected instead of opening a browser like Chrome or Safari). This convenience will soon be available to WhatsApp users too. In-app browsers are perfect when you need to quickly view something on a web page (say, a boarding pass) before continuing your conversation.
The latest WhatsApp beta for Android shows a new dark theme that users can toggle on and off. Many apps are making the move towards offering users a dark mode option. In fact, Android and iOS now have system-wide dark modes for their operating systems. It makes perfect sense for an app like WhatsApp that’s used quite heavily throughout the day to follow suit. Dark themes are an accessibility feature that reduce eye strain in low-light conditions while conserving energy and minimising the harmful effects of blue light.
As mentioned, Telegram and Signal are two of the apps competing in the same market as WhatsApp. One advantage they’ve had over our favourite green app is a feature that allows users to send self-destructing or disappearing messages. Basically, a user sends a message and sets a time period after which the recipient will no longer be able to see it. After the time period has elapsed, the message disappears into the digital ether as encrypted ones and zeroes. It’s a security feature that WhatsApp will soon have, effectively eliminating whatever upper hand its competition had. WhatsApp’s sister app, Instagram, has a similar feature for videos and images sent in direct messages.
Group chats are a big part of the WhatsApp experience but anyone who has been added to too many understands how frustrating they can be. Soon, you will be able to decide who can invite you to a group chat and you’ll get to choose whether you want to join a particular group. WhatsApp will roll out three filters: “Everyone”, “My Contacts” and “Nobody” which will determine who can add you to a group. Once someone adds you to a group chat, you’ll have three days to accept before the invitation expires.
All our smartphones are fully compatible with the latest version of WhatsApp so you can enjoy these features as soon as they’re available on Android.
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