In October 2023, WhatsApp introduced a series of updates aimed at enhancing user experience and security. These changes were part of the company’s ongoing efforts to keep the platform fresh and exciting for its billions of users worldwide.
One of the updates was the introduction of a new navigation bar located at the bottom of the app interface. This feature allows users to switch seamlessly between chats, updates, and call tabs. The app settings also saw the addition of Material Design 3 toggles.
In terms of aesthetics, WhatsApp changed the color of sent messages to a different shade of green and darkened the chat background. The in-app logo also received a new color.
Privacy enhancements were a major focus in the latest beta channels. Users can now hide locked chats, providing an additional layer of security. To access these hidden chats, users need to input a pre-configured secret code in the WhatsApp search bar, followed by the unlock code for each locked chat. This feature is akin to having built-in two-factor authentication within the app.
WhatsApp also discontinued support for outdated Android versions, specifically Android 4.4 and earlier. The app now requires a minimum of Android 5.0 to run. However, this change is expected to impact less than 1% of users globally.
Another notable update was the support for multiple user accounts on a single device. This development is particularly beneficial for dual-SIM phone users, as it allows efficient utilization of device resources such as storage and contacts while maintaining the segregation of conversations, privacy settings, and notifications for each account.
To further enhance user privacy, WhatsApp introduced passkey support. This feature allows users to use on-device biometrics like fingerprint scanning for account login, bypassing the SMS-delivered two-factor authentication code. Passkeys employ cryptographic keys on your device and WhatsApp servers to verify your identity when signing in, making them resistant to person-in-the-middle attacks.
WhatsApp also introduced text formatting features similar to those in rival apps, including options for bold, italics, underlining, strikethrough, and formatting for code blocks, quote blocks, bulleted lists, and numbered lists.
In addition, self-destructing voice messages were introduced, potentially expanding the list of view-once media formats on WhatsApp. The company is also working on enabling voice message support in channels, allowing administrators to share audio clips with a broader audience through channel updates.
Finally, WhatsApp has been conducting trials of a new user interface (UI) design over the past few months. In October, this design expansion became more widespread through a server-side rollout, reaching a more extensive audience of beta testers.
These updates are expected to make their way to the stable channel once they’ve undergone thorough testing. However, the company typically doesn’t disclose specific timelines for users to anticipate these changes.