WhatsApp: 4 of the biggest updates and 1 concerning change coming soon

WhatsApp Change Update

WhatsApp is working on some big changes to the chat app (Image: WHATSAPP)

WhatsApp is the most popular chat app on the planet right now.

The Facebook-owned messenger works across an array of mobile platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Mac or Windows PC. It lets users send text messages, videos, photos, files, webpages and more, over a mobile internet connection or Wi-Fi.

WhatsApp is not known to race ahead with new or experimental features. Instead, the service plods along and slowly tweaks and improves its apps.

As such, new features in WhatsApp are a big deal. We’ve been hearing about some pretty drastic changes in the pipeline for the app, so here’s five incoming changes that you should be on the look-out for…

1 – Vanishing Texts

It might sound more like a nasty bug in the app, rather than an exciting new feature, but WhatsApp wants to implement disappearing texts into its app in the future.

The SnapChat-inspired new feature will let you set a timer on your texts. So, like Tom Cruise’s boss in the Mission Impossible franchise, you can send messages that will self-destruct after a certain time has passed. WhatsApp looks set to brand the feature “Disappearing Messages,” which isn’t the most thrilling branding, but does the job.

Like all good forthcoming features, the arrival of Disappearing Messages was uncovered by @WABetaInfo, which trawls through the latest beta software releases from WhatsApp to sniff out clues about forthcoming features and design tweaks coming to the app. According to clues found in the latest WhatsApp beta, the feature will be available in group chats.

WhatsApp Chat Update

Following the update, you’ll be able to change the settings to make messages in a group chat vanish (Image: WABETAINFO / TWITTER)

Based on the screenshot shared by @WABetaInfo, group chats will be able to set a blanket rule about Disappearing Messages – so that every text message, photo, video, or audio clip shared in a chat will delete itself after 5 seconds, or 1 hour.

SnapChat gained huge traction for its ephemeral messaging system, which removes every photo, video, text message after a recipient has read it. To prevent people from being able to screenshot anything the sender might’ve wanted to keep as a limited time only offer, the messaging app included a warning when the other person in your chat screenshots the messages. It’s unclear whether WhatsApp is working on a similar warning.

Clearly, WhatsApp is still working hard on the feature. It has not announced plans to offer Disappearing Messages, so it might be a while before we see the finalised feature roll-out.

2 – Dark Mode

Black is this seasons hottest new trend, with both Google and Apple adding a system-wide Dark Mode to their latest mobile operating system. The option switches every part of the user interface that’s typically bright white to a dark shade of grey, or pitch-black.

Apps have to be updated to support the new option – so they’re not blindingly white when users load them up while in Dark Mode.

WhatsApp is working hard to support Dark Mode across both platforms, with numerous references to the new option surfacing in beta updates. The first nods to a Dark Mode appeared in September last year, so hopefully WhatsApp is well on track with the design tweak.

Other Facebook-owned apps, including Instagram, have already added support for the feature to their apps. So, fingers crossed we don’t have long to wait for WhatsApp to follow in their footsteps.

3 – WhatsApp Across Devices

As it stands, WhatsApp is linked to your personal phone number. It’s a quick and easy way to verify your identity when signing into the app.

However, it’s not particularly conducive to switching between multiple devices. Many rival messaging services, including Apple iMessage and FaceBook’s Messenger, let users switch between a smartphone, tablet, and desktop to send and receive messages.

WhatsApp lets you send messages from your computer, but it’s not a true Mac or Windows application. You’re smartphone still needs an active internet connection – as it’s the one handling all the actual messaging. You’ll also need your smartphone with WhatsApp running to login the first time, too.

But that could all be about to change.

According to a report from BGR, WhatsApp is looking to become a true multi-platform system that will enable WhatsApp users to use the same account across a number of devices at the same time – in exactly the way Apple iMessage works.

The update is a fundamental change to the way WhatsApp works. It means the company can build native apps for Mac and Windows that won’t require your smartphone to be nearby, switched on, or even have WhatsApp installed!

It’s also crucial that this change is in place before the next one on our list can come about…

WhatsApp Chat App

Code in the latest WhatsApp beta suggests the iPad version of the chat app is well underway (Image: WABETAINFO / WHATSAPP)

4 – WhatsApp on iPad

Until WhatsApp changes its reliance on phone numbers, this is just a pipe-dream. But if the service becomes independent of your mobile number, as outlined above, then a native iPad app could be the next major platform to be supported by WhatsApp. As it stands, WhatsApp does not currently support Wi-Fi only devices.

Like Apple’s own iMessage, you’ll be able to pick-up where you left-off with chats, video calls and voice conversations with all of your contacts – with all of your chat history synced to the tablet.

The larger screen on the iPad means it’ll be perfect for watching video clips, or reading files sent to you on WhatsApp.

WABetaInfo discovered the references to the iPad version. In a screenshot shared on social media, WABetaInfo shows a folder included within the WhatsApp desktop code entitled “Tablet-iOS”. That was unearthed back in 2017, so it’s unclear exactly whether we’ll ever see this new app.

Of course, it’s possible the iPad app is finished and ready to go and we’re just waiting on the larger foundational changes to how WhatsApp authenticates its users and its dependency on phone numbers to change. But either way, it’s probably not worth holding your breath for the iPad version this side of Christmas.

…finally, there’s one change that might not please users.

5 – iOS 8 Users Won’t Be Happy

Sadly, not all changes are good news. As WhatsApp pushes forward with new features and updates to its core service, it can be difficult for the company to maintain support for ageing operating systems and platforms. Over the years, we’ve seen WhatsApp ditch BlackBerry, Android devices with version 2.3.7, and other smaller phone platforms entirely.

WhatsApp has recently refreshed its support page and put another operating system on the chopping block.

This time, it’s iOS 8 users who are going to lose access to the Facebook-owned messaging app. In its updated support page, WhatsApp states: “WhatsApp for iPhone requires iOS 9 or later. On iOS 8, you can no longer create new accounts or reverify existing accounts.

“If WhatsApp is currently active on your iOS 8 device, you’ll be able to use it until February 1, 2020. For the best experience, we recommend you use the latest version of iOS available for your phone.”

iOS 8 first rolled-out back in 2014 and is now installed on around 0.3 per cent of devices across the globe so this shouldn’t have a huge impact on most iPhone users. However, it’s a reminder that WhatsApp won’t always be available on your device.

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