WhatsApp has a bumper crop of new features planned for its hugely-successful chat app this year
WhatsApp had enjoyed a busy 2019. The Facebook-owned chat app, which is used by a gargantuan 1.5 billion users every month, has in a number of new features into the last twelve months, including the ability to choose who can add you to a group chat, respond privately to a message sent inside a group chat, and protect your chats with a fingerprint on Android smartphones.
WhatsApp is pretty tight-lipped about what we can expect from the chat app for the next year, but there have been a few clues in beta versions of the software. And it looks like 2020 will be an equally busy year for the Facebook-owned app. We’ve compiled a list of some of the flagship features that look set to land in the next year to boost your WhatsApp messaging.
WhatsApp Update: Dark Mode
Could we really kick off this list with anything else? Yes, WhatsApp’s elusive Dark Mode has been rumoured for 18-months now. WABetaInfo – a popular Twitter account that deep-dives through the latest beta releases of the app to uncover clues about forthcoming features – discovered the first hints at the gloomier appearance in summer 2018.
Since then, we’ve seen an increasing amount of evidence about the feature, including the fact that WhatsApp is purportedly looking to create two new potential looks – one in greyscale, and another in pitch-blacks. Twitter uses a similar approach. While the pitch-black tones will be the only ones that act as a battery-saver for those with smartphones touting OLED touchscreens, the greyscale should still help people who are only looking to ease their eyes when using their smartphones late at night.
Interestingly, every other Facebook-owned platform which has introduced a Dark Mode has opted for the jet-black variant, including Instagram and Facebook Messenger. Both of these were also much, much quicker at getting the feature out the door – so it really seems like WhatsApp is doing its own thing here.
For those who don’t know, Dark Modes switch the portions of the user interface that would typically be white with greys or blacks. This is designed to make your smartphone screen less glaring when using it at night or other low-light conditions and eking out a few more hours battery life when used on a smartphone with an OLED panel.
Although WhatsApp’s Dark Mode is still in the works (with no confirmed release date as yet) there is a clever workaround to enable Dark Mode on WhatsApp right now.
WhatsApp Update: Self-Destructing Messages
Discovered by our old friends at @WABetaInfo once again, WhatsApp appears to be working on a SnapChat-inspired new feature that 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.
The Facebook-owned team looked set to brand the feature “Disappearing Messages,” which wasn’t the most thrilling name. Something that WhatsApp appeared to think too, because it changed the name to “Delete Messages” as of the 2.19.348 update.
Based on the screenshot shared by @WABetaInfo, group chats will be able to set a blanket rule about Delete Messages – so that every text message, photo, video vanishes after either one hour, one day, one week, one month or one year. It’s a fun way to make sure that you’re not constantly haunted by the texts, videos or photos that you’re sending to an individual or group.
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.
WhatsApp Update: Adverts Incoming!
Yes, we’re afraid it’s not all good news about the updates planned for 2020. While the Facebook-owned app looks set to introduce a slew of new features and capabilities, there will also be some adverts in the app for the first time. Rumblings about advertisements coming to WhatsApp have been around for some time (and are believed to be one of the reasons that WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum left the company after its acquisition by Facebook.
Luckily, the adverts won’t be coming to the chat windows themselves – so you don’t have to worry about ducking around adverts for discounted holidays while you’re texting your mum. Instead, the adverts will be played in-between slides on WhatsApp Statuses – just like they are on other Facebook platforms, including Instagram.
WhatsApp Update: Shopping Brochures For Your Chat App
WhatsApp is bringing shopping catalogues to its WhatsApp Business app. The software, which is an off-shoot of the original chat app designed to help customers communicate with businesses or customer service representatives using the same tools as the normal chat app, is available worldwide.
Dubbed Catalogs (yes, they’re using the American spelling), merchants on WhatsApp Business can now share a complete breakdown of their inventory that you can peruse within the same chat app window you’d usually use to speak with business owners. Weirdly, you’re not able to buy anything from the catalogue just yet.
However, given the announcement that Facebook is launching its own payment service (inventively named Facebook Pay) and that it will be coming to WhatsApp in the future, it seems more than likely that chat app users will eventually be able to buy an item from the catalogue without ever leaving WhatsApp.
Shopping brochures have already started to appear in some territories, including the UK
But for now, WhatsApp claims the new feature is designed to help small businesses appear more professional on the app. If a merchant isn’t able to offer a slick online catalogue of all of their items, WhatsApp’s new tool should let them present their customers with a beautifully-designed catalogue of everything in-store without much effort – or programming – on their part.
Shopping catalogues on WhatsApp Business have started to crop-up in the UK, United States, Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, and Mexico. But for everyone else in the world, this is a 2020 feature – so keep an eye out for the update coming to your app soon.
Of course, Express.co.uk will cover all of these announcements as soon as they happen. So stay tuned for all the latest announcements from WhatsApp.