This year has been the year of WhatsApp updates. From features that try to curb fake news to viewing a video without leaving the messenger, WhatsApp has been way more prompt to release updates this year than ever before.
Some features are available only to beta users, so that they could be tested and tweaked before they are made available for the final stable version.
So if you’re the one who wishes to check out features that haven’t made their way to the stable version, simply click on this link and become a WhatsApp beta tester. However, WhatsApp beta is known for having bugs and crashes, so be aware of what you’re getting into. You can always opt out of beta by going to the same link.
The following is the list of the most exciting updates of this year. The features in testing can be tried out only via WhatsApp beta, while the ones mentioned under the stable version will most likely be on your phone unless you haven’t updated to the latest version.
Features in testing:
So somebody said something mean to you on a group, but you’re a bit hesitant to give it back to them in front of everybody. WhatsApp’s got a solution for you. Simply long press the message you wish to reply, then tap on the hamburger icon on the top right (the icon with three dots) and then tap on reply privately. Now you can reply to the corresponding message and the receiver will also be able to see their message you’re replying to.
When you click on a YouTube link sent by someone on WhatsApp, the system instantly triggers the YouTube app to open. With this beta feature, you can watch the YouTube video in a box hovering over the chat window, saving you multiple taps on the recents button.
Vacation mode/silent mode
When you archive a WhatsApp chat, it disappears from your recent chats goes right at the bottom of the list. However, if you receive a reply or send a message to the recipient, it appears right back up. Vacation mode will allow users to keep archived chats hidden until either you send the recipient a message or unarchive the chat.
A similar “silent mode" lets users disable app badges coming from a muted conversation. Currently, WhatsApp allows you to disable sound, vibration and a pull-down notification alert, but app badges still appear over the icon.
This will allow you to preview any media directly via your notification tray. So you can simply swipe down on the message and view the photo, video or audio sent to you without opening the app itself. This feature is not available to everyone, with iOS devices being the ones to receive this feature more often than others.
Pretty straightforward—a mode that turns everything that’s bright and lively to a darker theme for night time use, so it’s less harsh on your eyes.
Swipe to reply
The “swipe to reply" feature replaces “hold and reply." What this means is instead of holding down a message and then typing, you can now swipe the message to the right and reply.
Features in stable version:
WhatsApp stickers were introduced to all WhatsApp users in late October. To try out the stickers, you need to update to the latest stable version of WhatsApp. Once you’ve done that, you can find the stickers icon right next to the emoji and GIF icons in the emoji menu. You are then greeted with three tabs—one with your recent stickers, second with your favourites and the third containing all the stickers. There’s also a “plus" icon in the corner that allows you to add more stickers to WhatsApp via a sticker store.
WhatsApp now displays an alert you whenever you receive a link that WhatsApp deems suspicious. This is basically to grab your attention so you don’t mindlessly open anything that’s sent to you; just so that you’re sure you give your consent. A link appearing suspicious to WhatsApp may not necessarily be harmful.
Forward limit, forwarded stamp
After coming under scrutiny for the spread of misinformation, WhatsApp in August introduced several changes in the forwarding capabilities of the app. With the new forwarded stamp, users can know if the message they’ve received is forwarded or not. It has also put a limit to the number of times a user can forward a message, the limit being set at 5 forwards per message. The tiny arrow next to media messages called the ‘quick forward’ button, which allows forwarding media with one tap, was also removed.
Video and voice group calling
Also in August, WhatsApp announced a group video and audio calling feature that allows adding up to 3 participants in a call. To do this, simply video or audio call a contact and once the call is picked up, tap on the ‘add call’ icon on the top right corner. Then you can select another contact you wish to call.
Mark as read
This feature allows users to dismiss a message by tapping the “mark as read" button in the notification tray. So users can dismiss a message as read from the notification bar itself without actually opening the app.