WhatsApp is getting two killer upgrades — how you can try them out

(Image credit: Facebook)

For many people, WhatsApp has become the conversation platform of choice, with over 2 billion people using the Facebook-owned app to keep in touch with friends and family. In addition to offering encrypted messaging, WhatsApp boasts several features that appeal to a variety of users. And it’s about to expand its bag of tricks.

Specifically, WhatsApp is gaining two new capabilities that figure to broaden its appeal — the ability to mute conversations with others indefinitely, and a way to shop directly from within WhatsApp.

The ability to simply mute some conversations for the foreseeable future is probably WhatsApp’s most radical change. Up until now, WhatsApp has only ever offered muting for 8 hours, one week, or a full year. Now, you can make the decision to effectively ghost someone by never seeing their messages again with the option to mute a conversation forever.

You must have the most up-to-date version of WhatsApp to accomplish this— and even then, it seems like the muting feature is getting updated on a staggered basis — but it's a useful capability that's been a long time coming. On either iOS or Android, choose the conversation you want to mute, long press on its icon, and then you'll see a few options pop up in relation to muting the account. 

To keep the conversation out of sight and out of mind forever, tap the check box next to "Always" and then ensure "show notifications" remains unchecked. You'll remain in the chat, but you won't receive pings night and day from the various members within. This should (mercifully) cut down on the amount of messages you get, especially from groups. 

But not-so-subtly butting out of conversations isn't all that's coming to WhatsApp. Users will also soon be able to go shopping from right within the app. According to the WhatsApp blog, prospective buyers will be able to purchase items directly from within chats. This means shopping can potentially take place in the same manner as a conversation would. 

A WhatsApp user could text a video game retailer looking to purchase a certain title, then receive product information and a link to seal the deal, adding items to a virtual shopping cart and checking out right from within WhatsApp.


(Image credit: Facebook)

WhatsApp calls the process "business messaging," as lined out in a special video the company made to demonstrate the concept. It looks as though it could potentially be a vehicle for Facebook Pay, which the social media network utilizes as part of Facebook Shops, but this hasn't been totally confirmed -- it's just a safe bet.

There's also no confirmed rollout date for the new shopping-centric features. WhatsApp users in Brazil were able to test drive a pilot program to purchase items from local vendors, but the country's Central Bank put the kibosh on the experiment, citing potential compliance with rules and regulations regarding cash. 

Little by little, WhatsApp continues to evolve. You may want to check your own download to see if you’re able to mute that noisy group chat without leaving forever right now. As far as shopping goes, that could certainly take a while. 

Brittany Vincent

Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over 13 years for publications including Tom's Guide, MTV, Rolling Stone, CNN, Popular Science, Playboy, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, and more. She's also appeared as a panelist at video game conventions like PAX East and PAX West and has coordinated social media for companies like CNET. When she's not writing or gaming, she's looking for the next great visual novel in the vein of Saya no Uta. You can follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake.