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WhatsApp updates: Latest news, upgrades and features

WhatsApp
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

WhatsApp updates often come thick and fast. That's no surprise, as it's the world’s most popular chat app, with an estimated 2 billion users flinging messages around the globe every single month. 

So the Facebook-owned service is constantly being enhanced and upgraded, implementing new features and occasionally making changes to the privacy terms and functionality.

If you’re one of the WhatsApp faithful, then it’s worth keeping tabs on the latest updates and changes made to the app, as well as potential additions and tweaks on the horizon.

Latest WhatsApp updates news (updated July 20)

WhatsApp now lets you join group calls that have already begun

WhatsApp has introduced a new feature that lets users to join a group call that's already started even if they ignored the call to start with.

Prior to this, in order to join a group call you had to accept the invitation when it was first sent out at the start of the call. But now you can just head over to the Calls tab and join from there.

WhatsApp group call joining

(Image credit: Facebook)

July 12: WhatsApp disappearing messages come to the iOS beta

The current WhatsApp beta for iOS supports disappearing messages, according to some digging done by WABetaInfo in the WhatsApp version 2.21.140.9 on Testflight. This apparently enables users to send photos and videos that effectively self-destruct once they have been viewed once. 

Such a feature is likely to be handy for people who are very privacy-conscious, at least when it rolls out to the full version of WhatsApp. But this will not prevent recipients of the message to screenshot it and save it for later, so this feature isn't fool proof.   

The view once feature will need to be enabled by users, and as it's rolling out to beta users, you may need to wait for it to be added into your WhatsApp beta. For people not on the beta programme, you may be out of luck as at the time of writing, it's full up. 

WhatsApp icon on iPhone

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

July 12: WhatsApp has found a way to make your photos and videos look better

Going by a new feature spotted by  WABetaInfo in the latest WhatsApp beta, a "best quality" option for sending photos of videos could be coming to the messaging service. 

As the name suggests, this is looking like a way to send high-quality photos and videos if you have the cellular connection or Wi-Fi to support it. 

July 1: WhatsApp is reportedly testing “View Once” messages

WhatsApp could be getting into Snapchat-like ephemeral messaging, according to a report from WABetaInfo, which notes the rollout of a new “View Once” feature will let users see certain incoming messages only once before they are erased forever. The service has offered self-deleting messages in the past, but not with such a limited window for viewing them.

WABetaInfo reported the View Once features is currently rolling out on the WhatsApp beta for Android 2.21.14.3 for specific beta testers. Once the message is viewed, the sender will know that it has been seen. Once it is closed, the message is deleted forever.

June 27: WhatsApp is testing new voice message feature 

Another beta deep dive by WABetaInfo has found that WhatsApp is testing a tweaked version of the voice messages feature, which not only allows users to see a waveform of their voice when recording a message, but also lets them stop a recording to listen back to their message before sending it. 

The latter part isn't possible in the current full version of WhatsApp on iOS or Android, meaning it's all-too-easy to record and send a message without being able to check it beforehand. WABetaInfo posted a video of the Voice Waveform feature in action, which would signal that it's likely to make it to the full release of WhatsApp. 

WhatsApp updates

(Image credit: Allie Zru)

May 21: Chat migration feature may be coming

If you switch to a new phone or phone number, then you may not be forced to lose all of your saved messages. That’s because, according to a report from WABetaInfo, WhatsApp is apparently working on a feature that will let you transfer your chat history.

The feature reportedly works between the iOS and Android versions of the app, and also lets you switch your account from one number to another. This feature has not yet been officially announced, however, and there’s no clear indication of when it will be available.

May 17: Disappearing mode option could be coming

WhatsApp is reportedly testing a feature that allows users to enable the disappearing mode — which automatically deletes sent messages after a certain period of time — for all messages.

Currently, users must enable the feature for each individual conversation. It’s unknown if or when this feature will go live for all users.

May 9: WhatsApp planned to withhold features over privacy terms

In January 2021, WhatsApp revealed that it would share private user data with parent company Facebook. Following widespread backlash, WhatsApp announced that it would not force users to accept the new privacy terms by the original May 15 deadline, and will not delete the accounts of users who continue to resist the terms.

Initially, WhatsApp said that it would limit the functionality of the app for users who do not accept the terms, blocking access to the chat list and restricting incoming calls and notifications. However, following renewed backlash, WhatsApp changed course again in late May and said that it would not limit functionality after all.

May 4: Voice message review feature in testing

WhatsApp is apparently testing a feature that will let users more easily review recorded voice messages before sending them. According to WABetaInfo, which shared a purported demo video of the feature, it will let users review their recordings in a less cumbersome way than the previous method. The feature is said to be testing right now, and it’s unknown if or when it will be available to the public.