WhatsApp update means you can finally leave groups without people noticing
WhatsApp is releasing a slew of new features that will help you to keep your activity private. This includes preventing people from screenshotting your messages, and the option to leave group chats without notifying everyone.
Our favorite newly announced feature is the ability to block the screenshotting of View Once messages you send on WhatsApp. These Snapchat-like messages are designed to disappear after being read, but if someone takes a screenshot of one they can stick around for longer than you intended.
The feature has its limits – you can’t stop someone from taking a picture with a second device or from using a secondary screenshotting tool that bypasses the restriction – but it should make it a little harder for people to keep messages you wanted to expire.
The other downside right now is that it’s currently only in testing, meaning it’ll likely be some time before the feature gets released to the public. However when it does launch it will be a decent boost to the privacy offered by our pick for the second-best encrypted messaging app in 2022, and maybe one day we’ll see the restriction come to all WhatsApp messages.
We reached out to Meta for more details about when this feature will leave testing, but a spokesperson for the company wasn't able to elaborate, other than confirming that the update would be “rolling out to users soon.”
Going out without a bang
Thankfully, not all of WhatsApp’s new features will be coming in the distant future, as some are arriving later this month.
Once the update rolls out you'll be able to leave group chats without letting everyone know that you've gone. The embarrassment of having to notify a high-school group chat that you’ve finally noped out can leave you stuck with a chat screen full of long-dead threads.
Soon you'll be able to wave a near-silent goodbye as you slip out a back door, never to be seen in the group chat again. The only people that will know you’re leaving are group admins, which isn’t a perfect solution, but is a step up from what we have at the moment.
The update will also give you control over who can see when you're online and when you were last online – a notification that usually appears under your name in direct messages. You can let everyone know your WhatsApp habits, turn it off completely, only let your contacts know, or only let a select few of your contacts know.
If you’re trying to hide your WhatsApp activity from specific people, or just want to keep that data private, the new tools will be just what you need.
All of these updates come ahead of Apple's iOS 16 launch, which is set to greatly improve its iMessage service. Meta is likely taking this opportunity to remind iPhone 13 users of the advantages of using its WhatsApp service over Apple's own-brand messaging.
Are WhatsApp's new features going to be enough for it to finally best our favorite encrypted messaging app, Signal? We'll have to wait and see.