You know that feeling of dread any time an unknown number calls your smartphone? WhatsApp intends to make you feel that when you’re attempting to get your account verified on a device. Which, to start, isn’t as bad as it seems, and to continue, might not stick around as a feature.
The messaging app, according to WABetaInfo, is currently testing so-called flash calls for account verification on a limited number of Android accounts. Basically, what happens is that instead of sending you an SMS, the app dials your number and rings a couple of times. You don’t have to answer the call, which is good because you weren’t going to anyway.
WhatsApp with all the changes?
Which does mean that the WhatsApp app will need your permission to a) makes a call and b) read your call history. The app claims that it will only make use of this feature once (until you need to verify your account again) but it’s also not bringing the feature to iOS — because there’s no option for the app to read the call history on your phone, which is needed for verification here. But the good news is that if you really don’t trust Facebook, you can stick with the SMS verification method — at least until they make this mandatory, which is totally going to happen at some point.
There’s also no telling how much more difficult it will be for the app to function like this when Google gets around to rolling out stricter tracking for Android handsets in the next few months. Apple’s move towards app transparency has already put a dent in app tracking on iOS, and Google’s version might cause something similar on Android — though it’s worth noting that the Android changes will be opt-out rather than opt-in. The fallout for online advertisers (like… every social media app you use, including WhatsApp) is likely to be far less extensive.
For now, though, the WhatsApp calling feature remains in testing. It’s set to launch in a future update of the app, where you can try it out if you really, really want to experience the thrill of ignoring yet another unknown phone number.