WhatsApp in 2019: All the New Features the Chat Service Added This Year

Here's a list of all the new features WhatsApp added in 2019, from those that made their way to the stable app, to those on the WhatsApp beta as well.

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WhatsApp in 2019: All the New Features the Chat Service Added This Year

WhatsApp features introduced in 2019 include group privacy settings, biometric authentication, and more

Highlights
  • WhatsApp rolled out the ‘Frequently Forwarded’ label in India
  • It brought new group privacy settings to curb group spam invites
  • WhatsApp also finally introduced biometric authentication

WhatsApp is known for actively developing multiple features simultaneously, and testing them for months before releasing them for the general public. The popular instant messaging platform has been working on big features like dark mode, a new multi-platform system, and new UI elements this year. It brought along features like improved group privacy settings, fingerprint unlock feature, and even Netflix trailer in-app streaming support this year. WhatsApp and Facebook integration was initiated with the introduction of a new feature called Share to Facebook Story. It essentially lets you share your status on Facebook, if you so prefer to do so.

This, and many more WhatsApp features were rolled out, or are being tested this year. Here's a rundown of all them. Before we proceed, we've segregated this post into three sections – features that have already been rolled out and are available for commercial use, features that are being tested in beta, and features that were spotted in to be under development and haven't been enabled for beta testing as of yet. The last option is the most ambiguous, and some of the features mentioned there may or may not make it to the testing phase. For that matter, some features mentioned in the beta section may also never see the light of the day in a stable rollout.

New WhatsApp Features in 2019 (Stable)

1) WhatsApp Business app for iPhone released, new Catalog feature introduced

After being available on Android for over a year, WhatsApp started rolling out the Business App for iPhone users earlier this year. It was rolled out in seven countries, including India. It is currently available in India, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, the UK, and the US. Furthermore, the company rolled out a new Catalog feature for businesses using the latest WhatsApp Business app on both Android and iPhone in India, Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico, the UK, and the US. The new feature is designed to help small businesses showcase and share their offerings through a distinct catalogue of products.

To mark the first anniversary of the launch of WhatsApp Business app, WhatsApp also introduced quick replies, labels, and chat list filtering on the Web version as well as the desktop clients of the Business app, in the start of 2019. These features were already available to WhatsApp Business users on mobile, but since January, these can now also be used on the Web version as well as WhatsApp desktop apps.

2) WhatsApp gets new Group Privacy Settings

After testing it out for several months, WhatsApp rolled out the updated group privacy settings globally. To find the updated privacy settings for groups, you need to go to the Settings menu of WhatsApp and then tap Account > Privacy > Groups. You'll find the My Contacts Except... option that sits next to the existing Everyone and My Contacts options. This new option gives you the control to select which of your contacts can add you to a group on the instant messages. This change has been introduced to curb spam group invites.

 

3) WhatsApp biometric authentication arrives for iPhone, comes to Android months later

WhatsApp introduced biometric authentication support for iOS users in February this year, while Android users got it months later, after several rounds of testing. Both Android and iOS users can now have the app lock automatically, and unlock only with their fingerprint. Users can also choose how much time the app will automatically lock in, from immediately after closing, to after 1 minute, and after 30 minutes. Users will also be able to choose whether the content of their messages will be visible in notifications, including the sender of the message. WhatsApp for iOS users can also use Face ID to lock the WhatsApp app.

4) Consecutive voice messages feature arrives for WhatsApp Web, Android

As the name suggests, this feature allows for auto-playing of two or more voice messages sent one after the other. This feature was in testing for quite a while, before it was made available to Android users commercially. This feature was already available on iOS from before. Last month, WhatsApp Web also got the ability to listen to listen to voice messages consecutively.

5) WhatsApp Status Updates can be shared to Facebook Stories

Another big WhatsApp feature that was rolled out this year, includes the ability to share your WhatsApp Status on to Facebook Stories. This feature has rolled out to Android and iPhone users both. To let you easily share your status updates to Facebook Stories, a new Share to Facebook Story button under the Status tab appears on WhatsApp after you create an update.

6) WhatsApp rolls out ‘Frequently Forwarded' label in India

In August, WhatsApp started rolling out the Frequently Forwarded messages label on both Android as well as iOS apps to let users know if the message they have received has been forwarded over five times. Long forwarded messages are also truncated, and users will have to tap to read the full message.

7) WhatsApp Tipline feature introduced

In a bid to crack down on fake news ahead of the general elections in the country, WhatsApp unveiled its ''Checkpoint Tipline'' feature where people can check the authenticity of information received. People in India can submit misinformation or rumours they receive to the Checkpoint Tipline on WhatsApp (+91-9643-000-888). Once a WhatsApp user shares a suspicious message with the tipline, Proto's verification centre will seek to respond and inform the user if the claim made in message shared is verified or not. The response will indicate if information is classified as true, false, misleading, disputed or out of scope. Proto has since clarified the tipline is essentially a research project, and is "not a helpline" that will respond to all of the users' queries on WhatsApp. Gadgets 360 had shared a number of links and few photos with the Checkpoint tipline, but haven't received any response yet apart from the automated replies.

8) WhatsApp gets enhanced PiP mode in Android, Web

In June 2019, WhatsApp for Android got an update that enhanced Picture-in-Picture (PiP) feature to allow users to watch videos in a pop-up window even while switching from one chat to another. It also continues to play the video on the floating window when WhatsApp is in the background. This feature was available in iPhone since the rollout for PiP mode last year, but was missing from Android. Also, WhatsApp introduced Picture-in-Picture mode for desktop users last year, but at that time, it only worked for the videos shared by the users themselves. With an update in February, WhatsApp Web users got the ability to use Picture-in-Picture mode for all video links, with support for Facebook, YouTube, Streamable, and Instagram video links introduced. This feature came with WhatsApp Web version 0.3.2041 update.

9) WhatsApp adds Netflix trailer support to video streaming in-app

Earlier in November, WhatsApp was spotted being able to stream Netflix video trailers in-app. WABetaInfo reported that when users share a compatible Netflix link, the recipient will be able to play the trailer video in the messaging app itself. The link will appear as a large thumbnail with a play icon in the middle, as is the case with YouTube video links. This feature is only available for iOS users for now.

10) WhatsApp adds Opi Stickers support

WhatsApp expanded its sticker collection by adding an Opi sticker pack designed by Colombian illustrator Oscar Ospina, in June this year. The pack includes Opi stickers featuring a white-colour bear expressing different emotions. Notably, the new sticker pack is available within WhatsApp for both Android and iPhone users. The Opi sticker pack includes as many as 30 stickers to let WhatsApp users "sneak, snooze, and celebrate" with the bear.

11) WhatsApp limits forwards to 5 chats globally

To combat fake news on its chat platform, WhatsApp limited the forward feature to just five chats. This feature was first rolled out to Indian users in July last year, and in January, the company rolled it out to all users globally. This change came as part of WhatsApp's aim to maintain the image of a 'private messaging app' rather than one infamous for the spreading of fake news.

12) WhatsApp for iPhone gets Reply Privately feature

In the first week of 2019, WhatsApp rolled out an update for iPhone users, bringing many new features like Reply Privately support in WhatsApp Groups, ability to add stickers to photos and videos, and 3D Touch support to preview a contact's status. The Reply Privately feature allows the participants of a group to reply privately to a chat in their 1:1 chat. To use the feature, the WhatsApp users will have to tap and hold a message in a group chat and select More, then select Reply Privately. Android users got this feature last year.

 

13) WhatsApp for iPhone gets 3D Touch to preview Status

In addition to reply privately, WhatsApp for iPhone update also got the ability to use 3D Touch to preview a contact's status in the Status tab. The preview screen also lets the user Mute a status if they desire. It is important to note here that not all iPhone models support 3D Touch. Apple had introduced the 3D Touch support back in 2015 with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models. iPhone SE and older iPhone models don't include the support for 3D Touch. The iPhone XR also doesn't include 3D Touch, with Apple choosing to go with Haptic Touch instead, and this tech offers similar UI options as regular 3D Touch.

14) WhatsApp for Android adds group call shortcut

WhatsApp for Android v2.19.9 introduced a dedicated call button in group chats - something that is already available for iPhone users since last year. The newly introduced button can be used to make group calls by adding the participants all at once from a slide-out tray containing the contact cards of all members in a group. Here, you can tap on the names of people you want to participate in your group voice or video call.

New WhatsApp features in 2019 (Beta) 

1) WhatsApp new camera icon being tested

The latest WhatsApp for Android 2.19.328 update brings a change in the Instagram logo-like camera icon inside the WhatsApp app. Earlier, the app had a more Instagram logo-like camera icon, and that has been replaced with a more traditional camera logo. This feature is enabled in the beta app, and is yet to roll out commercially.

2) WhatsApp testing host of emoji-related features

Earlier this month, WhatsApp Android beta version 2.19.315 brought along new emojis and tweaked a few existing ones. The new emojis include more couple emoji variations, colour blocks, yawning face, and a single individual in various postures. An update in May brought along as many as 155 redesigned emojis. This change came with Android beta 2.19.139, and some emojis have got subtle changes in design and aesthetic. For example, the man with turban emoji has changed from a coloured turban to donning a more neutral white turban. Before that, WhatsApp Android beta 2.19.116 brought along a separate Emoji category for the Doodle Picker section. The category lets you choose from the slew of emojis available on WhatsApp to stick on to your status before posting it and it also splits it from the stickers that you will also be able to access via the Doodle Picker in a separate category. The Doodle Picker can be found in the Status Bar. Lastly, WhatsApp beta for Android version 2.19.73 brought an emoji showing a transgender flag. You need to go to the flag emoji section from the emoji menu to see the transgender flag that sits alongside the LGBT and UN flags. Gadgets 360 was able to independently verify the presence of the new flag on the WhatsApp beta build.

3) WhatsApp is working on bringing a new Splash Screen

WhatsApp recently started working on bringing a new Splash Screen for its users. This feature was spotted in Android beta 2.19.297, and a new Light Splash Screen and a Dark Splash Screen was spotted. The Light Splash Screen will show up when Dark Mode is not activated. The Dark Mode feature is also in development as of now. Splash Screen is essentially a new page that shows up initially when the app loads for the first time, with the WhatsApp logo plastered on a white background. This new feature was spotted in Business beta as well.

4) WhatsApp to bring Hide Muted Status Updates

In September, WhatsApp started testing the ability to hide muted status updates. The Hide Muted Status Updates feature brings the ability to completely vanish all traces of muted updates from the WhatsApp Status section. Currently, the muted status updates show up at the end of the scroll, but this new feature will hide that section completely. The feature was first spotted in WhatsApp beta version 2.19.260.

5) WhatsApp is working on bringing audio playback in notifications

WhatsApp has been spotted testing the audio playback feature in iOS beta. It was spotted in 2.19.91.1 iOS beta, and it brings the ability to preview incoming voice messages on notification panel. This feature is being tested on a few iPhone units only, so it may not be working for all beta testers.

6) WhatsApp testing Memoji Stickers on iOS

WhatsApp for iOS beta version 2.19.90.23 brought Memoji Stickers support for users testing the app. A new Memoji Stickers option showed up for beta testers, and the stickers show up in the frequently used section as well, alongside the normal emojis. Memoji stickers are available for iPhone X, iPhone XR and iPhone XS users only, running on iOS 13. To recall, Memoji is a feature introduced with iOS 12 that allows users to create personalised Animoji for themselves. Animoji are themselves likened to animated emojis.

7) WhatsApp working on a Quick Media Edit feature

WhatsApp iOS beta 2.19.80.16 enabled the Quick Media Edit feature for testing purposes. The Quick Edit Media Shortcut will provide editing of media files you have sent or received in an individual WhatsApp chat or a group conversation. A button called Edit will be available next to the share and favourite buttons; once you tap the media file you've sent or received on the app.

8) WhatsApp working on bringing animated stickers

WhatsApp is working on bringing animated stickers support to iOS, Android, and even the Web. PLatform watcher WABetaInfo shared screenshots and photos of the feature working on all three platforms. Animated stickers are different from GIFs - they keep alive throughout, while GIFs stop playing after a few seconds.

9) WhatsApp working on increasing audio files limit

WhatsApp is working on bringing a new UI for selecting audio files that allows users to preview (both audio and album art) an audio file before sending, and also lets users send up to 30 audio files at a time. This feature was spotted in development in January, but was later enabled in v2.19.89 Android beta.

10) WhatsApp Short Link feature for iPhone

For iPhone users, WhatsApp rolled out the Short Link feature with Business beta version 2.19.21.5. The feature is already available on both the regular Android and WhatsApp Business for Android apps, and is finally being tested on iOS. Using the new Short Link feature, the business can access a short wa.me URL to share with its customers, so that they can start a WhatsApp chat with the organisation. Once you're on the latest version, head to Settings to find the Short Link section.

11) WhatsApp for Android redesigned Settings menu

WhatsApp for Android beta v2.19.45 introduces a redesigned ‘Settings' menu with a slightly different layout and has also brought new icons for a variety of tools. The update brings relocation of certain tools, new icons and the way information is displayed on the screen. The first noticeable change is the addition of a ‘Payments' option on the main ‘Settings' page which shows a history of payments and details of the linked bank account. The update also brought tweaks to the ‘Network Usage' page that now shows the memory usage status with details such as date and time, as well as the total amount of data sent and received by users.

12) WhatsApp for Android Download Single Sticker option

WhatsApp Android beta version 2.19.33 added the ability to download a single sticker from a pack. Earlier, a WhatsApp user was forced to download the entire sticker pack even if the person just wanted to use a single sticker from that pack. There was no option to download one sticker individually and leave out the rest. This download single sticker feature has now been made live in a beta update and is expected to come in the stable update soon. In order to use this download single sticker option, you must be using the latest WhatsApp for Android beta version 2.19.33. After downloading the update, open the in-app WhatsApp Stickers Store and long press on a sticker in a not-yet-downloaded stickers pack. WhatsApp will then prompt to ask if you want to save that sticker as favourite. It will show you the download size of the single sticker and offer a download option at the bottom for saving the sticker in the app. This new feature is very useful, especially for those who want an uncluttered stickers menu with only the relevant ones showing up. It also saves precious data for all the limited pack users.

13) WhatsApp's new Shared Media Options

WhatsApp for Android beta v2.19.18 revamped the options users see in the Media section of individual or group chats. Users when browsing photos in the Media section will now see new options if they tap the three-dot menu button. These are 'Show in Chat', 'Set as...' and 'Rotate'. The first option lets you see where that particular image or video was shared in the individual or group chat. 'Set as' isn't actually new, but instead of individual options for images to be 'Set as profile photo', 'Set as group icon', and 'Use as wallpaper', the menu has instead been simplified, and users can now tap the 'Set as...' overflow menu to see 'My profile photo', 'Group icon,' and 'Wallpaper' as the target locations. Finally, the 'Rotate' option isn't new either, but instead of 'Rotate left' and 'Rotate right' seen in previous builds, users can tap Rotate multiple times to achieve the same effect.

14) WhatsApp working on iPhone app redesign

WhatsApp beta 2.19.120.20 for iPhone brought along a redesign of few elements, and the most notable ones include different cell animations, redesign of read receipts, chat icons, and more. It also redesigned the image that appears when a contact has not added a profile picture and for groups without a group icon. This image now resembles the one that exists in the Android app.A lot more subtle changes are expected to be incorporated in the future.

15) WhatsApp testing Redesigned Facebook Logo

WhatsApp started testing a redesigned Facebook footer with 2.19.331 update. The new Facebook footer is visible on the welcome screen as well as in the settings menu of the latest WhatsApp beta version. Further, it is also available on the Splash Screen.

New WhatsApp features in 2019 (spotted in development, disabled by default)

1) WhatsApp Dark Mode still a work-in-progress

WhatsApp is inching closer to getting the long-awaited dark theme. It has been spotted on Android and iOS beta both, but the feature is yet to arrive in its full-fledged version or even the testing phase. It appears that WhatsApp on iOS will get multiple versions of dark theme that will vary in the strength of black shade applied across the app's interface. A recent iPhone beta update showed how different shades of black will be provided to users to choose from. The darker theme will be the default theme that WhatsApp will use. The user will be able to switch to the second configuration modifying the device accessibility settings There is also a report that suggests that WhatsApp may launch the dark mode officially as ‘Night Mode'. At the moment, there is no word as to when the dark mode will arrive on WhatsApp for Android via a stable or beta update.

2) WhatsApp working on a Boomerang feature

WhatsApp has been spotted developing a Boomerang feature that would allow users to create looping videos. The feature is currently in a development stage and will be initially available for iPhone users, according to a report. However, it is said to also reach Android users soon after its debut on iOS. WhatsApp sister concern Instagram originally brought a Boomerang app particularly for its users to let them easily create one-second video loops. The Boomerang app was designed to counter Twitter's Vine that offered six-second video loops segments. The feature would be available for videos that are less than seven seconds. Further, the video loops created through the new development could be shared with WhatsApp contacts through a message or uploaded as a Status update.

3) WhatsApp working on a new multi-platform system

WhatsApp is reportedly building a multi-platform system to enable users to activate one account on a lot of devices. WABetaInfo says that this includes WhatsApp for Windows (UWP), which brings the ability to use WhatsApp on your PC as well. The tracker says that the multi-platform system will work on iPhone, Android, iPad, and even WhatsApp for Windows (UWP) whenever it arrives. This means that users will be able to use the same WhatsApp account on multiple devices, without being kicked out of the main one. Users will be able to use their WhatsApp account on iPad (when the app becomes available) without uninstalling it from their iPhone. Similarly, the same WhatsApp account can be used on iOS and Android devices as well. As recent iPhone beta v2.19.120.20 update had some instances of the rumoured multi-platform system. To get access from a second device to a WhatsApp account, WhatsApp needs a registration code. This code will be sent to the main account used on the primary device, and it will splash a warning. This will enable a more secure way of using the multi-platform feature whenever it gets released in the future.

4) WhatsApp is working on QR code button

WhatsApp beta 2.51.151 is said to have the references for a new QR code button that would allow users to share their profiles and add contacts through specific QR codes. Once you tap the QR code button after going through the Profile section, WhatsApp would show the QR code that would let other users add you to their contacts list. You would also be able to add other users to your contact list by scanning their QR codes using the Camera feature on your WhatsApp.

5) WhatsApp is working on an in-app browser

In March, WhatsApp Android beta version 2.19.74 was spotted to feature an in-app browser every time the user tries to open a link shared over the app. This feature is disabled by default and still under development. The feature is being built to detect unsafe pages using the "Safe Browsing" feature which was added to Android 8.1 last year. It would alert users when a page is infected with malicious content.

6) WhatsApp is working on a Search Image feature

WhatsApp for Android is reportedly also testing a new feature to let users search images that they received or sent to their contacts. The new feature, which is apparently called 'Search image', would use Google to search for the images directly from a WhatsApp chat. The Search Image feature is yet to make way to the instant messaging app, but has been spotted as disabled by default in WhatsApp beta for Android version 2.19.73.

7) WhatsApp is developing an Advanced Search feature

WhatsApp is working on a separate 'Advanced Search' feature that will allow users to search for photos, links, audio, GIF images, and even videos, apart from the usual text search that is already enabled. The Advanced Search feature will also show recent searches as well. Notably, the Advanced Search image feature is separate from the Search Image feature reported above. As mentioned, this feature is still under development, and will roll out to all iOS beta app users in a future update.

8) WhatsApp is working on an algorithmic feed for Status

WhatsApp is reportedly working on a new layout to show status updates that will drastically change how stories are populated in the feed. The current iteration of WhatsApp shows the status updates in the order that they were posted, but the company is now experimenting with the idea of an algorithm-driven feed that will list the status updates based on relevance, instead of the existing reverse chronological order. WhatsApp has reportedly begun testing the new feed layout among a small group of users in certain regions. The new algorithm will reportedly give preference to those contacts whose status updates are more frequently viewed by the users. The algorithm will also take into account the frequency of interaction with a particular contact before positioning the status update by the person at a particular location in the feed. Priority will also be given to contacts whose status updates, the users are most likely to view, based on the past interactions. WhatsApp is reportedly testing the algorithmic status update feed with a small set of users on the iOS platform. The experiment is limited to some users in Brazil, Spain, and India.

9) WhatsApp working on a Blocked Contact Notice

WhatsApp was spotted developing a new feature in the recent Android beta 2.19.332 update. It is developing a new feature that will show in the chat when you have blocked or unblocked a contact. Every time you block a contact, WhatsApp will add a bubble in the chat reporting “You blocked this contact. Tap to unblock.” The same happens when you decide to unblock a contact. The tracker notes that this bubble will be added in your chat only, and the contact you have blocked won't be notified about it. Of course, this feature hasn't been enabled yet, and is still in the development stage.

10) WhatsApp is working on grouping blocked contacts

Another feature spotted in the latest beta 2.19.332 update is the ability to segregate your blocked contacts into categories. This feature will automatically group your blocked contacts list following a specific criteria, which means all your business contacts will be moved on a different section. The tracker says that the new arrangement will be automatic, and that you won't have to manually set a contact as Business, WhatsApp will learn which contacts are businesses and they will be moved in the second section. This feature is also still under development that means it hasn't reached the beta testing phase yet.

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Tasneem Akolawala When not expelling tech wisdom, Tasneem feeds on good stories that strike on all those emotional chords. She loves road trips, a good laugh, and interesting people. She binges on movies, sitcoms, food, books, and DIY videos. More
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