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WhatsApp Features That Changed the App in 2019: Fingerprint, Dark Mode and More

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Last Updated: December 30, 2019, 17:56 IST

Representative Image.

Representative Image.

In 2019, WhatsApp's biggest changes included a cosmetic makeover, as well as efforts to make the messaging service safer for everyone.

WhatsApp is unanimously the most used messaging service in the world. Given its massive reach, WhatsApp has had a fairly busy year through 2019 in terms of the updates that the service has rolled out — in both beta and stable builds. While some of the WhatsApp updates focused on increasing the WhatsApp features arsenal, other updates were focused on addressing the WhatsApp privacy issues. Here's looking at all WhatsApp updates through 2019 that improved the app in terms of interface, security and overall features.

Dark mode
2019 in tech can be hailed as the year when pretty much every software threw on a dark mode shrug, and while the changes may sound incremental, dark mode has made for a bigger change than what it sounds like. The new interface colour, which WhatsApp will reportedly offer in two tunes — Dark Theme and Night Mode, is still presently in beta, and has been so for a while. The dark mode on WhatsApp will reportedly help phones draw lesser power from the battery, and be also tied to the default Android theme in a way that it will be automatically implemented when you switch your phone's default, system-wide dark mode on. In any case, while WhatsApp's biggest update of the year still remains in beta, it has seemingly generated the most hype, justifying its place on this list.

Fingerprint authentication
The second in line is fingerprint authentication on WhatsApp for both iOS and Android devices, adding an extra layer of security for the messaging service. With this feature enabled, even if you leave your phone unlocked, your chats cannot be accessed by anyone else, until it is verified by your fingerprint. This also adds an extra security layer against tools such as Pegasus, which tapped in to chats by gaining high level access to your screen.

Group links and profile photo
These two updates have been crucial in adding safety layers for individuals. The first of the two changed how users could be added to groups — now, when you turn on the feature from settings, no user can randomly add you to a group, and will instead need to send you a personal message with the group link, which includes information such as group name, group image, and a preview of the group's members. The second feature prevents anyone from downloading your WhatsApp profile image, and both the features combined are aimed at protecting users against acts of cyber bullying, unwarranted abuses and misuse of personal photographs.

Forwarded message labels
Keeping in line with protecting users from abuse, WhatsApp added the 'forwarded' labels to messages as reports rose against the spread of misinformation on the platform. As a result, WhatsApp decided to label forwarded and frequently forwarded messages so as to help users detect messages that could turn out to be spam, phishing links, fake news, or even malware. WhatsApp has further added forwarded info to messages, so as to help users know about a message before clicking on it, or reading it.

Group calls
Group voice and video calling on WhatsApp has been a key addition to the messaging service, that has so far primarily served as a text message and content sharing medium. With internet calling, WhatsApp increased its use case to suit many small businesses as well. In 2019, WhatsApp took it a notch further by introducing group voice and video calls, which can further suit conferencing for work, or even casual use cases.

Picture-in-picture mode
With this mode, introduced way early in January itself, WhatsApp now allows users to preview Netflix trailers, or play full YouTube videos from within the app itself. The picture in picture mode helps when you are viewing content on the move, and wish to preview links without switching the app. This helps WhatsApp keep users within its own app, increasing the versatility of the messaging service.

Consecutive voice note playback
Often, it used to be fairly annoying when a friend would send you a barrage of voice notes, and you had to individually play them in order to listen to the full conversation. Now, WhatsApp allows autoplay of voice notes, where consecutively sent voice notes will play automatically, without you needing to intervene. This further makes the interface and using the app seamless, underlining yet another way in which WhatsApp is looking to improve its overall usage experience.