WhatsApp has already been a news cycle staple in 2019, given Facebook’s recent announcement to merge the app with Messenger and Instagram. There’s also the fake news issue and the recent release of WhatsApp Business for iOS.
Oh yeah, and the app just celebrated its 10th birthday in February. So far, this year has brought several new features into the mix, from playful stickers to better security protections.
Here is a look at just a few of the many new WhatsApp features to check out.
WhatsApp upgrades: 2019 Edition
WhatsApp rang in 2019 by adding stickers to the mix. The app comes equipped with its own set of stickers, but you can also integrate third-party packs into your account for more options.
Like Facebook, WhatsApp recently debuted an unsend feature that allows you to take back that stupid thing you sent. You’ll have an hour to make up your mind and can choose to delete a message for yourself or for everyone. Like Facebook, that doesn’t mean you can prevent someone from reading the initial message, but you can remove it from their feed.
Listen to voice messages without headphones
Okay, fine, WhatsApp has always been able to play voice messages on the loudspeaker. What’s different about this latest feature is, you now have the ability to listen to voice recordings as if it were a phone call.
All you’ll need to do is put it up to your ear and play the message. It will softly whisper the recording so no one else can hear it.
Check messages without going online
People will never know you left them on “read.”
Unlike Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp now lets you view your messages without letting the sender know that you’ve opened the message.
Alternatively, they’ve also made it easier to see who has reviewed the messages you’ve sent to others. This might not be the healthiest way to engage with your messaging system, but WhatsApp’s resolution for 2019 is choices.
FaceID and TouchID Access
This isn’t the most exciting feature, but it is pretty heavy in demand. WhatsApp just added a new authentication feature to the stack for an extra layer of privacy.
Find it by tapping: WhatsApp Settings > Account > Privacy
It enables users to enable authentication before WhatsApp opens and shows your messages. It’s a lot like banking apps where you need to provide Touch ID or FaceID to access your account. The benefit with the new feature is that if someone gets ahold of your unlocked phone, they can’t access your chats.
How relevant this is to you depends on what you’re hoping to protect yourself from. If it’s a matter of making sure the average stranger, your kids, or a nosy partner don’t open your messages, it’s pretty useful. Although, this is all assuming they don’t know your PIN.
What’s new with WhatsApp’s battle against fake news?
Last year, the app faced some major challenges in India with backlash from citizens over the spread of misinformation. The problem was, WhatsApp’s encrypted messaging limited the company’s ability to track the source of the problem.
This year, WhatsApp said that it had refined its spam detection tool, making it easier to report bad actors. Still, it’s hard to say whether there’s been any impact so far.
If you look on the app’s FAQ page, WhatsApp makes some recommendations for avoiding spam and hoax messages. It states that they have the right to ban users who they believe are in violation of the app’s terms of service.
Finally, the platform rolled out the WhatsApp tip line. It is a reporting tool that allows users to report misinformation. As of now, the feature is only available to users based in India — and it’s unclear when or if this is coming to the rest of the world.
Group chats are now more secure
Another brand new feature for the platform is an additional privacy setting for group chats. Group chats now come with the following options:
- Everyone — This setting means that the user can always be added to group chats.
- My Contacts — This means that the user can always be added to groups if the admin is listed in their contacts. If the invite comes from someone outside of the contact list, they will receive an invitation to join.
- Nobody — The user cannot be added to a group chat automatically. If another user wishes to add them to a thread, they will receive an invite and can choose whether to join or decline.
The new security features eliminate the issue of being added to random chats, which has increasingly become a problem for those users who just want to communicate with family and friends.
We didn’t even cover every feature that WhatsApp has released in 2019. After 10 years, the private texting app has come a long way, offering cute stickers along with extra security protections.