The teams behind WhatsApp might be working from home at the moment, but that hasn’t impacted their output. In fact, this year has been one of the most feature-packed in recent memory. From the long-awaited Dark Mode finally rolling out on iPhone and Android, to support for 50-people video calls via Messenger Rooms… there’s been a lot to keep track of.
In the last week alone, WhatsApp debuted three new brilliant new features for iPhone and Android app users. The Facebook-owned messaging service also brought Dark Mode to desktop and online users for the first time too. However, if the rumours – not to mention the clues sniffed-out from the latest beta versions of the chat app – are anything to go by, WhatsApp isn’t quite finished yet.
Express.co.uk has rounded up three of the latest features to launch from the world’s most popular chat app, which keeps some two billion people in touch globally, as well as three more that we’re hoping are right around the corner…
WhatsApp Animated Stickers
WhatsApp has boasted the ability to send stickers – large illustrations that offer more detail than the standard emoji available on all smartphone operating systems – since 2018. But this week, WhatsApp seriously upgraded this feature.
Following in the footsteps of a number of rival messaging apps, including iMessage and Telegram, which have expanded on this idea to offer animated versions, WhatsApp has now included its own GIF-like stickers. These expressive animations can be sent individually or paired side-by-side in batches of two – exactly like the static stickers previously available in the Facebook-owned chat app.
QR Codes For WhatsApp Contacts
This nifty little addition is designed to save you from having to slowly read out your mobile number to a new friend. Instead, all you’ll need to quickly scan a QR code displayed on their phone screen and – ta-da! – you’ll have a new contact saved within your chat app, complete with mobile number, home address, profile picture, email address, Twitter handle, and more. It should really speed up the process of entering someone’s digits. It will work across iPhone and Android.
WhatsApp Video Call Tweaks
As more people turn to video calls to keep in touch with friends and family, WhatsApp has added a number of improvements to its video call feature. Most recently, the Facebook-owned app allows users in calls with up to eight people to focus on whoever they want by simply pressing and holding to maximise a single video pane to full screen.
WhatsApp has also added a video icon in group chats of eight or less, so you can easily start a group video call with a single tap now. And tapping on the + icon in the corner of any chat window gives users the option to launch a new Messenger Room call, which can host people from Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram (in the near future).
WhatsApp features we’re still desperately waiting to see…
WhatsApp Music Sharing
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information on this upcoming feature. But rumours suggest WhatsApp is actively looking into a way to share music with friends and family without leaving the app. While it’s possible to send URLs to songs on Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music right now.. there’s no native players or features tailored towards sharing songs in WhatsApp.
In the future, the Facebook-owned service is purportedly hoping to replicate the functionality found on Apple’s iMessage, which lets users share tracks and albums from Apple Music, which can be played within the chat window.
WhatsApp on iPad
WhatsApp has been hard at work on an iPad app for a while now. While WhatsApp offers a desktop app, this is essentially just the online messaging portal wrapped-up in a Windows 10 or macOS app window. You’ll even need to scan a QR code from your smartphone periodically to ensure you stay logged in and able to send or receive messages. And if you’re thinking of making or receiving video calls from a PC – forget it.
All of these quirks of the Facebook-owned messaging service are because WhatsApp accounts are tied to your phone number. And using the service on a device without a SIM card installed – like a laptop, desktop PC, or tablet – isn’t possible yet.
But that’s all set to change. WhatsApp is looking into ways for accounts to be signed-in and used on multiple devices at the same time. This might sound simple, but requires some pretty fundamental changes to the chat app. But, should the team manage to get everything working, it should allow WhatsApp to work in a similar way to Facebook Messenger or iMessage, which allow users to move between devices seamlessly and pick-up texts, voice calls and video chats where they left off.
According to the code unearthed by @WABetaInfo – a Twitter account that trawls through beta code to find clues about upcoming features – WhatsApp will soon send a notification whenever your account is being used on another device. This’ll likely act as a security measure to ensure someone isn’t texting from your account on another device without your knowledge.
With that change to the way WhatsApp works, it finally paves the way for a fully-fledged iPad app. Screenshots discovered by @WABetaInfo shows the iPad app is almost identical to the iPhone version, except that a second column showing all of your active conversations has been added when holding the iPad in landscape orientation – to make use of the vast amount of screen real estate available.
The Settings page also uses this column view. Apple’s own Messages app uses the screen real estate in a similar way.
WhatsApp’s Self-Destructing Messages
WhatsApp is experimenting with a new feature that will allow users to set a self-destruct timer on their text messages. Although WhatsApp has boasted the ability to delete texts, photos and videos for some time now, this would make the chat app more akin to SnapChat – which enjoys huge popularity with younger users. According to rumours, users will be able to designate specific group chats where all messages have an expiry date.
This means you’ll be able to send texts, photos, videos and documents within these group chats safe in the knowledge that there’s no need to return and delete anything – it will all be erased automatically when the timer runs down.
As always, it’s worth taking all of these rumoured features with a healthy pinch of salt too.
Nothing is official until the iOS and Android updates roll-out and make the feature official. Until then, plans could still change. In the meantime, Express.co.uk will keep tabs on these developments, so stay tuned.
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