WhatsApp is one of Stuff‘s favourite apps. Not because it’s especially unique or fun, it’s just the most useful means of communication if you’re living in South Africa. It’s quick, precise and most importantly, it’s essentially free to use if you’re on a Wi-Fi connection and costs a minimal amount of data if you’re out and about. The Facebook-owned instant messaging app is constantly growing and improving and until such time as we’re required to have a Facebook account to use it, WhatsApp is our go-to app. So how exactly is WhatsApp going to expand in the future?
To ensure everyone stays in the loop, we wrapped up a few incoming features and updates hitting WhatsApp in the near future. Most of this information comes from stuff we wrote a while back (because we’re that far ahead of the game) and information pulled from WABetaInfo (because they’re just a little further ahead). Some cool stuff is coming to WhatsApp, so let’s delve into exactly what we can expect.
That sounds far more dramatic than it is but when you get an opportunity to write the words “self-destructing”, you take it. Back in September it was found that WhatsApp was working on a feature that would allow users to send media to contacts that would essentially vanish once the recipient has opened it and left the chat. It’s a great way to ensure that media sent over WhatsApp won’t constantly clog up your gallery and take up space.
Of course, it does open up the window for certain gross individuals to send less-than-appropriate pictures but one has to assume that you’ll still be able to screenshot the image or video (so it can be reported or the sender can be named and shamed) as it only disappears after the chat is closed. When this does eventually hit our devices, just… don’t be terrible, okay?
On a similar note, WhatsApp is rolling out an update to how the app deals with storage space and capacity. The current UI for WhatsApp’s storage settings are limited and offer very little insight into what’s actually taking up space. This improvement brings with it a bar at the top of the menu that’ll indicate helpful storage information, such as space being taken up by files sent over WhatsApp, and a tool that allows users to organise chats based on how much data was sent.
It’s a great expansion on what has historically been a very unhelpful menu. Given the amount of memes people send back and forth on WhatsApp, it’s nice to be able to pinpoint exactly who’s sending too many memes and tell them to chill. Although, why would you when they’re clearly doing you a great service?
Let’s shift away from the smartphone version of WhatsApp and instead focus on the desktop version which is, arguably, the best way to use the instant messaging app. It’s always been the case that you needed to scan a QR code to access the desktop app with your phone, which is a pretty clunky, over-complicated system. However, that’s changing as WhatsApp is looking into adding a fingerprint scanner instead.
So instead of scanning a QR code, you’ll be able to just scan your fingerprint on your mobile device and it’ll log you into the desktop version of the app. It might seem like a small convenience but it’ll certainly add up over time. We’re all about simplicity here at Stuff.
If you’re owned by Facebook, it’s to be expected that you’ll at some point be integrated into at least one of their other properties. Recently, Facebook confirmed that it was uniting Facebook Messenger and Instagram so that users could send direct messages to one another even if they’re on different apps. Thus, when it was reported by Fast Company that Facebook was looking doing the same with Messenger and WhatsApp… well, no-one was exactly surprised.
This is the update we really know the least about, as Facebook has only really confirmed that they’re looking it for the time being with no confirmed roll-out date or specifics on features. Still, it makes sense that Facebook would fully integrate their three massive social media platforms in some way. This is just a logical step to that journey — but it’ll also likely end with Stuff switching over to Telegram full-time.
This one is for all you Apple lovers out there. Just a few weeks ago, we wrote up what iOS users can expect in terms of future updates for WhatsApp. So we head on over to that article, we’ll find that the incoming features include, “changes to the search bar, a mute always option and the long-awaited expiring media feature.”
That means that iOS users will be able to use a larger search bar and only permit WhatsApp to view and access certain folders in your device’s gallery. Expiring media, which we mentioned a little earlier in this article, will finally hit Apple devices and an option to mute chats forever rather than being forced to abide by a time limited restriction.
All of these features are in the pipe, either indicated by appearing in WhatsApp’s code or turning up in beta versions of the app. We’ve got no timeline for the features listed here to turn up and all we can say for certain is that it won’t all launch at once (unless WhatsApp feels like making a serious impression on users). We’ll be keeping an eye out — as soon as something new drops for the popular messaging app, we’ll let you know.