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Two important updates coming to WhatsApp soon

I will admit it, there was a time when I used to love WhatsApp over all the other chat apps. That was before Facebook came into the picture, I had been an enthusiastic user of Google Talk and WhatsApp seemed like a natural successor. These days I use WhatsApp because I have no choice mostly because Facebook seems to be prioritising features that no one cares about and neglecting important ones such as true multi-device support. There are however two updates they are working on that might interest me and a lot of people.

Again no, it’s not multi-device support- Facebook engineers seem are busy copying Tik Tok and Clubhouse to actually work on things that matter. These two separate updates aim to improve the way we consume media from within WhatsApp:

  • The updated that has the prospects of actually landing in the public release of WhatsApp first, is the audio speed control feature which allows you to speed up or slow down audio playback speed.
  • The second feature is disappearing photos and video

The need for speed

As an avid reader of books, I am a naturally fast reader and it’s a skill that extends to every aspect of my life. It doesn’t take me long to get through even long text messages. I find it frustrating therefore when people send me audio messages especially those long ones from relatives and I have to patiently wait for them to get to the point.

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True, you can always fast forward but unlike with video, you run the real risk of missing something important. Plus there is this WhatsApp bug or whatever it is that causes the screen to go dark whenever you move the audio slider too many times.

I don’t know about you but the pandemic has brought more and more long audio messages in my life and in the lives of the people that I know. WhatsApp for example offers a cheap way to get started with online lessons and some teachers prepare long audio messages. There is therefore a real case for speeding up audio playback.

Now you see me, now you don’t

This is in my opinion the most appealing feature of them all. I have already expressed my disappointment with WhatsApp’s current implementation of the disappearing message feature and this maybe be the next best thing.

With this feature, you can send a photo or video and the recipient can only open it once. Once the video is opened navigating away from it makes it disappear forever. Crucially, however, the people on the other end can still take a screenshot and immortalise the photo and do a screen record of the video. WhatsApp has said they will not activate screenshot/video capture detection

Why they keep dragging their feet on this is something I don’t understand. If someone is choosing to send a video or picture this way it means they already have privacy concerns already. It’s only fair that if the recipient seems to be violating that privacy the sender should be informed as soon as possible something like: “John just took a screenshot of the private picture you sent to him.”

I can already hear another storm about this being all about nudes and extramarital affairs raging but I am not going to engage. I have already highlighted use cases for disappearing messages elsewhere.


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