3 changes coming to WhatsApp – including new disappearing messages

Meta-owned messaging service WhatsApp has announced changes to disappearing messages, giving users more options around how long a message can be viewed. Messages will then automatically delete after a set interval.

In a blog post on Monday (6 December), the group said WhatsApp users will have the option to turn on disappearing messages by default for all new chats. When enabled, all new one-on-one chats will be set to disappear at a chosen duration.

The messaging service has also added a new option when creating a group chat that lets you turn it on for groups you create. This new feature is optional and does not change or delete any of your existing chats.

As part of this change, WhatsApp is also adding two new durations for disappearing messages: 24 hours and 90 days, as well as the existing option of seven days.

“For people who choose to switch on default disappearing messages, we will display a message in your chats that tells people this is the default you’ve chosen.

“This makes clear it’s nothing personal – it’s a choice you’ve made about how you want to communicate with everyone on WhatsApp moving forward. Though of course, if you need a particular conversation to remain permanent, it’s easy to switch a chat back, it said.


Privacy changes

WhatsApp is also rolling out new privacy features to beta users allowing them to hide their information from specific people in their contact lists, according to insider website WABetaInfo.

The update gives users control over the following information and who it can be seen by in their contacts list:

  • Last seen status
  • Profile picture
  • About information

Notably, users who disable this information will also be blocked from seeing the same information of the contacts they have hidden their information from.


Voice notes

WhatsApp is also working on a global voice message feature that allows users to start a voice note and then exit a chat, view and reply to messages in other conversations in the app while continuing to play back the voice note.

While playing, a window will be pinned to the top of the app with an option to pause or stop playing the voice message.

This feature aims to help multi-tasking users without the time to listen to minutes-long voice notes. It does not allow for playing voice notes while the app is minimised.

WABetaInfo said that this feature could also be helpful when you receive a voice message that has a long duration. In this case, you can continue sending messages to other contacts when listening to the voice message. It is also reportedly testing features including transcription and a seek option to advance experiences with voice messages.


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