WhatsApp is testing its new spin on photo and video messaging with iPhone owners for the first time
WhatsApp is testing disappearing text messages on iPhone. The feature has surfaced in the latest update sent to beta testers. Until now, the new feature — a major twist on messaging on the platform — was only available on Android.
After the beta testers gave the thumbs up, WhatsApp is bundling the new feature in an update for iPhone and Android users worldwide. WhatsApp, owned by Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, is the world’s most popular messaging service with more than two billion users. As such, it tends to be slow when introducing new functionality.
The latest arrival allows WhatsApp users to send a photo or video clip that disappears once viewed. After that, it is impossible for recipients to return the photo or video.
While WhatsApp already offers disappearing messages, they delete themselves after seven days. It is of course also possible to remove an SMS, photo or video from a chat after it has been viewed by long pressing the message and choosing the option “Delete for everyone”. However, WhatsApp does not allow users to request to delete it until one hour after the first message is sent.
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It’s also worth remembering that recipients who use WhatsApp on iOS will still have media you’ve sent stored in their Photos, even after the message has been deleted from WhatsApp chat. And there’s no guarantee that the intended recipient ever saw the message before it was deleted, replaced with a small notification in the chat that said “This message has been deleted”. If you send a photo to a busy group chat, some users may have nearly an hour to view the text, while others may miss it.
That’s a scenario that WhatsApp’s new disappearing messages will solve. As the sender, you’ll receive a notification when your photo or video has been viewed and automatically removed from the conversation.
Leaked screenshots of the beta, shared by @WABetaInfo, show the new ‘disappearing mode’ interface
“Send photos and videos that can only be viewed once,” announces a popup that introduces the new feature in the latest beta version on iPhone: “For more privacy, your photo or video will disappear from the chat after the recipient has received it once. open. Remember, people can always take screenshots.”
Snapchat, the pioneer of this type of ephemeral messaging, alerts the sender when the recipient has taken a screenshot of a temporary photo in its app. It seems that WhatsApp won’t offer the same protection, but it’s good that it warns users about the possibility that their disappearing photos and videos may not disappear as completely as they would like.
WhatsApp has really pushed its privacy features in recent months. In a new ad campaign that includes print media, online and TV commercials, Facebook’s platform is highlighting its end-to-end encryption. We’ll have to see if the ability to send disappearing messages makes a future ad.
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