Popular messaging platform WhatsApp is testing a new feature to give its users an ability to send messages that will self-destruct after a set period of time.
This new “disappearing messages” feature was first spotted in version 2.19.275 of the Android app, although known WhatsApp tipster, WABetaInfo, who first discovered the feature, notes that it might not be available to everyone on the beta just yet. It is currently said to be in development and is not available for public usage, even as a part of the beta version.
This WhatsApp self-destructing messages could be useful to anyone who needs to send sensitive pieces of information that they don’t want to be permanently available. Previously, we’ve seen the feature used the rival messaging app Telegram, which lets you send self-destructing messages using the app’s Secret Chats feature. Gmail also added a similar feature in its redesign last year.
According to WABetaInfo, the Facebook-owned platform is actively working on the feature and it will be released “bug-free” as a part of a future WhatsApp update.
“As the name suggests, any message eligible to be ‘disappeared’, will be automatically deleted from the chat!” said the website
Once the chat is marked as “disappeared,” all messages will be automatically removed after a certain interval.
In its current form, WhatsApp lets you set messages to delete after either 5 seconds or an hour; there’s no in-between. Do remember, this is still the beta version, and more duration options could be added.
The feature also only appears to be available in group chats, where you have to commit to having every message sent in the chat deleted after a set period of time. It is expected that when these messages are deleted, they will not leave behind a message that indicates that a message from the chat flow has been deleted—these will simply disappear into the night.
However, WABetaInfo doesn’t have any details on when the WhatsApp self-destruct messages feature might be available for everyone, or the kind of capabilities it will eventually have. Although, the promise of a little bit more security in the world’s most popular messaging app is no bad thing at all.