Big changes for WhatsApp

Meta Platforms-owned WhatsApp consistently rolls out new features, and it has been hard at work in 2024, launching a redesigned interface, artificial intelligence (AI) powered features, and several quality-of-life changes.

The most notable changes in 2024 are arguably the redesigned green user interface and the implementation of AI.

WhatsApp rolled out the new interface in early May 2024, adding a shade of green to match its brand and more colour in general.

“We’ve made dark mode even darker to make text easier to read. Similarly, we’ve added more white space to the app when in light mode,” it added.

The update also shifted the Chat, Status, Call, Communities, and Settings tabs from the top of the screen to the bottom.

“Everyone who uses WhatsApp will eventually receive this update, so it’s not something you can opt out of,” says WhatsApp.

Meta rolled out its AI assistant to WhatsApp in April 2024. The assistant can answer questions, create animations, and generate images.

The AI assistant is built into WhatsApp’s search bar so users can easily ask questions and use its generative features.

For example, Meta said users can ask the AI assistant to recommend restaurants or help plan a vacation, among other things.

Meta also launched WhatsApp AI for Businesses to make it easier for users to find the information they require.

“This includes the possibility for certain businesses to incorporate AI services from Meta into their conversations, simplifying customer inquiry management through AI integration,” specialist WhatsApp data mining publication WABetaInfo reported.

To safeguard user privacy, WhatsApp has started blocking screenshots of users’ profile pictures. This adds a layer of protection by preventing the sharing of user photos without their consent.

It will also help to reduce the potential for misusing profile photos.

“In some cases, users may use others’ profile photos for malicious purposes, such as impersonation or harassment,” WABetaInfo reported.

“By restricting the ability to take screenshots of profile photos, WhatsApp can mitigate the risk of these photos being misused or distributed without the owner’s consent.”

WhatsApp’s redesigned user interface for Android and iOS

WhatsApp’s device-linking feature lets users access their accounts on various device types. However, until recently, there was no way to lock chats on a linked device when it wasn’t in use.

Meta addressed the issue and started working on a solution in February 2024 that would let users set a secret code to lock chats across devices.

“When a chat is locked on the main device, it will automatically lock on all other linked devices for added privacy,” said WABetaInfo.

Roughly a month later, the company rolled out two additional security features: passkeys and a system to show when messages are end-to-end encrypted.

A beta version of the app for iOS showed that users had the ability to configure a passkey to secure their WhatsApp accounts.

Once configured in iOS, the passkey is automatically saved to the iCloud Keychain, enabling users to log into WhatsApp with their device passcode or Face ID.

When a user needs to log into WhatsApp on a device where the passkey isn’t available, they can authenticate using the traditional six-digit lock code.

The new end-to-end encryption indicator shows a caption at the top of chats to show when a conversation is end-to-end encrypted.

“With this enhancement, users are always aware when their chats are securely encrypted using the Signal protocol, serving as a visual confirmation that nobody can read their messages and listen to their calls,” says WABetaInfo.

Meta has also rolled out several quality-of-life and personalisation changes since the start of the year, including a new sticker editor, favourite contacts, AI-powered photo editing, voice note transcriptions, and chat filters.

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Big changes for WhatsApp