Upcoming features planned for WhatsApp

A number of new features are currently in development for the WhatsApp messaging service, according to insider information and official communications.

Insider-website WABetaInfo reports that WhatsApp has resumed development on its “Vacation Mode” feature for the Android version of its messaging app.

The company submitted a new update through the Google Play Beta Programme which includes code related to a number of upcoming changes.

Chief among these changes is the resumption of development on the ability to ignore archived chats within the application – a feature which was originally named Vacation Mode.

Currently, chats which are archived by users are automatically unarchived again when a new message is received.

WhatsApp is working on a setting which will allow users to ignore archived chats, however, which means these chats will not be automatically unarchived when new messages arrive.

Once it is launched, this option will be available under a separate Notifications tab within the Archived Chats menu.

This section will reportedly include two toggles:

  • Notify new messages – Disabling this feature hides notifications from archived chats, which provides the Vacation Mode functionality.
  • Auto-hide inactive chats – If enabled, chats older than six months will be automatically archived.

Check messages 

In August, WhatsApp said it would introduce a new feature to check the validity of messages that have been forwarded many times on the platform.

These messages will appear with a magnifying glass icon next to them, and tapping this icon will open the user’s browser and execute a search, WhatsApp said.

“We’re piloting a simple way to double-check these messages by tapping a magnifying glass button in the chat,” it said. “Providing a simple way to search messages that have been forwarded many times may help people find news results or other sources of information about the content they have received.

“This feature works by allowing users to upload the message via their browser without WhatsApp ever seeing the message itself.”

WhatsApp said that the new feature will first be rolled out in phases with Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, UK, and the US set to receive the feature first.

The group has previously indicated that it will take steps to clamp down on fake news which is being circulated on its platform.

The company now provides a special forwarded label to messages shared in chats that have been forwarded many times. These two arrows help people know when they’ve received a message that was not written by a close contact, the group said.

It also set limits on how many times they can be sent at once to maintain the private nature of WhatsApp.

WhatsApp integration into Facebook Messenger

WABetaInfo claimed in July that Facebook plans to integrate WhatsApp into Facebook Messenger. Developer Alessandro Paluzzi found references in Facebook code that hints towards this integration.

The code suggests that Messenger would understand if WhatsApp contacts were blocked, have access to push notification sounds, and obtain details from WhatsApp chats like phone numbers, message counters, and whether the chat is archived.

Notably, however, Facebook does not currently have properties that allow it access to the content of chats, members of a specific group, and profile pictures of contacts.

Improved storage management

WABetaInfo claims that WhatsApp is working a new tool which will allow users to manage and clean up their smartphone storage.

The Storage Usage feature will include a number of tools to help organise the media you have received through WhatsApp.

The menu consists of three sections, each of which is detailed below:

  • A storage bar which shows how much storage space is used by the app and shows the media you have saved to your device
  • A feature to let users manage and delete files
  • A list of WhatsApp chats and the media that has been sent and received within each chat

Chat sync between Android and iOS

WhatsApp is also reportedly working on a new feature that lets users sync their conversations across operating systems and devices.

Currently, WhatsApp can sync chats between different Android smartphones and between different iOS smartphones, but it cannot do this between the two operating systems.

Linked Devices will let users sign in to the same WhatsApp account on four different devices, regardless of their mobile operating system.

Once it is enabled, the Linked Devices menu will be available from the overflow menu in the app’s home screen.

Users will need to connect to a Wi-Fi connection when logging into a new device so that their chat history and relevant media can be backed up and synced.

iPhone-specific changes

A number of new WhatsApp features have been tested on Apple’s iOS operating system.

These features include the following:

  • The addition of Contacts shortcuts to the iOS Share Sheet – This allows users to share files with WhatsApp contacts without needing to select the application from a list of supported apps.
  • Voice Over improvements – This applies to support when archiving and unarchiving a chat.
  • Bubble colour changes – Replacing dark mode’s green colour with an alternative shade.

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Upcoming features planned for WhatsApp