WhatsApp has been attempting to make its platform more secure, in light of global pressure to create a backdoor to its end to end encrypted chats. Now, a new feature has been spotted on WhatsApp Beta for Android, where users can send timed, self destructing messages. The texts, according to screenshots shared by WABetaInfo, can now be sent with a timer that lets you send it for one hour, one day, one week, one month or one year. This move is being as a bid by the Facebook-owned chat service to make its platform even more secure for sensitive chats, since timed chats would completely disappear from WhatsApp's servers and cannot be retracted later, hence making them ideal for sharing sensitive information on the platform.
It is important to note that the disappearing messages feature has only just appeared for the very first time on WhatsApp's beta app for Android, so it will likely take a while for it to appear in WhatsApp's stable version. The feature is also yet to appear on the iOS beta, which further suggests that the feature is only at an initial testing stage. The beta versions of WhatsApp typically serve as a good indicator of official features to be released on the stable builds, with new elements such as advanced search, fingerprint security and most importantly Dark Mode being among some of the closely tracked WhatsApp beta features spotted last year.
With a newfound emphasis on security, WhatsApp and its parent company Facebook would be looking to counter the threat posed to it by the rising popularity of Signal. The latter, which has recently seen investment from WhatsApp's initial founder Brian Acton, has made clear its intent of going after WhatsApp's user base, with clear focus on security and strong encryption. In comparison, WhatsApp has, from time to time, had to answer debates over its privacy credentials. The disappearing messages feature initially appeared on Facebook's Messenger, which added it in a separate section called Secret Conversations. Right now, it is not clear if WhatsApp will take the same approach and introduce a different window for disappearing chats, or offer the timer-based setting within the standard chat window itself.
Earlier this year, WhatsApp finally introduced the much coveted Dark Mode on its app, satisfying its 2 billion-odd users with the much requested feature. The much anticipated feature was heavily in demand from many users, but only offered a cosmetic overhaul for the app. Going forward, WhatsApp is expected to be working on enhancing the overall functionality of its chat service from all angles.