WhatsApp replacing numbers with usernames, introducing expiring groups and more

Leonard Sengere Avatar

If you live in Zimbabwe and are reading this, you are a WhatsApp user. I can also bet all I own that you are in a number of groups on that platform. Some groups you enjoy and some you can’t leave because you’re a coward, lying to yourself that you’re trying to spare feelings.

Whatever the case, the WhatsApp group experience is the same. There’s no way you are going to have everyone in the group saved on your phone in most cases. That means some of the chats that come through will be labelled +26377XXXXXX.

That’s not exactly useful when you want to figure out who it was that last sent that message. Let’s be honest, groups can be exhausting and sometimes you don’t want to jump in. You would however want to know who said what so you can decide whether to plunge in or not.

WhatsApp replacing numbers with usernames

WhatsApp has heard our cries and will be changing that soon. The latest WhatsApp Beta now displays the push name within the chat list. The push name is the username that people can give themselves.

So, from the chat list, you will be able to see that ∼BaKuzie was the last to comment ‘kkkk.’ I don’t know how useful that information would be.

When you finally pop into the group you will also find the username on the chat bubbles. Making it easier to keep up with who-said-what.

I guess that’s why people love their GB WhatsApp. They get to hide their online status, hide that they have seen messages and only get to respond when they gather themselves. For the decent people out there like me who won’t use GB, we have to wait for updates like the one above.

However, if you’re on Android, you can read messages without alerting anyone that you have. Even on the official WhatsApp app. All you have to do is use the WhatsApp widget. Resize it if necessary and you will be able to see all your unread messages in all their glory, no matter how long.

Other WhatsApp features in the pipeline include:

Expiring groups

Have you ever been to an event where a group was created to coordinate stuff? We’ve all been there. You know that the group is only useful for as long as the event is running. The moment you leave the event, you no longer need the group.

I just checked and I’m the last man standing in a ‘Groomsmen’ group from 6 years ago. I’m also still in a few study groups from years ago. I will exit those groups one day. If only I didn’t have to manually go through WhatsApp to decide on which groups to exit.

WhatsApp will soon allow us to set an expiration date for groups. It could be as little as one day or whatever time you think you will need to be in a group. You set the date and when the time comes, WhatsApp will remove you from said group. Perfecto.

Approving new participants

Group admins rejoice. You may have celebrated when you were given the ability to send out group links and have people just join using that. It’s neat but it also robs you of the power to weed out some riff-raff before it pollutes your carefully curated group.

WhatsApp will be allowing admins to reject or approve new members, whether they have a group link or not.

Other features in the pipeline:

  • Mute Calls – this will allow you to silence calls from numbers that are not saved on your phone. The call will still appear in your calls list and notifications but it doesn’t need to disturb whatever you are doing.
  • Call link – you can create a link to join a call. The feature is available on iOS and Android and will be coming to Windows soon.
  • Multi-selection – like the call link, Windows will be getting this soon but it’s already on iOS and Android. This just allows you to select multiple messages within a conversation at once, useful for when you want to delete or forward. Right now on Windows, you can only choose one message at a time.

Also read:

WhatsApp becomes a note taking app, working to allow sending photos in OG quality

Get all your ZIMSEC past exam papers, marking schemes, and notes on WhatsApp with Dzidzo paDen | Imfundwe’ndlini

WhatsApp adds polls and communities. I have some thoughts.


  1. M2

    A more useful feature for the names would have been to allow participants to set different names that are appropriate and meaningful for each group e.g. full name in a work related group, nickname in my former school group, baNhingi in a family related group, name-house# in a residential group, etc. It might even be worthwhile for the administrators to fix the names of all participants for particular groups.

    1. TkAyZ

      Yes that will be great

      1. Denzel Zivai Mombeyarara

        This is great

    2. Isaac

      πŸ˜‚ yowe! I’ll pass this one

    3. Leonard Sengere

      That’s a good idea. It would greatly improve the experience. Although, many would not bother filling out all that. As it is, many don’t even bother with the one username that’s there right now.

    4. Pavel Durov

      He is getting paranoid because of my Telegram 😁😁😁😁

      1. j got a 333 32 444329

        3 333:

  2. Isaac

    The latest build versions have already replaced phone numbers with usernames in groups but I guess the feature’s not yet done. I think the problem though is the fact that these usernames are not distinctive. We can all be Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk (please tell me you get my point πŸ˜„). Hope it’ll be the beginning of the transition from IP based urls (phone numbers) to domain names (usernames). Could this move have anything to do with privacy?

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Yep, the username feature is already rolling out. I don’t think it’s a privacy thing though. That’s because the phone numbers can still be seen once you open the chat. The username is just to let you know who the number belongs to but you also get the number.
      If we are charitable we can say at least if someone peeps at what you’re doing, they will only see a username on your chat list and not the number.

      1. Savior

        WhatsApp Mods already have those features,@cyber ghost I don’t understand your so called privacy and decency thing

      2. Isaac

        Thought the want to replace phone numbers with usernames pretty much like Telegram ie. we will therefore be able to message each other using usernames but they won’t display your phone unless you have it saved and the other party has your saved too.

        I base my thoughts on the last funny Whatsapp hacked headline where the guy probably scrapped phone numbers using the Whatsapp api (probably). If they wanted to prevent something like that maybe in the future, would they implement such features as the ones they are adding now?

        1. Leonard Sengere

          Nah, for now they are not replacing numbers, just adding usernames.

          I have Telegram installed but don’t really use it if I’m being honest. You can message each other using usernames? So if you’re in a group and want to save some other member’s number you have to ask for it?

  3. Cyber Ghost

    I really don’t understand why someone would use these so called WhatsApp GB,FM, SERIOUSLY?Is your privacy and decency worth sacrificing for those small “perks” like freezing Last Seen,I really question your decency

    1. Ambush

      What privacy and decency are u taking about?

    2. Leonard Sengere

      To be honest, I don’t use GB because of the UI and terrible performance. Pricacy concerns don’t quite move me although I know they should.

    3. Anonymous

      I use GB to separate groups and chats tabs.

      1. Leonard Sengere

        WhatsApp really should introduce that feature. I have resorted to having two WhatsApp accounts, one for one on ones, and one for groups, for the most part.

    4. Isaac

      I don’t use GB either – the performance, ui & losing your chats with every update (I know about the backup but you can’t teach old dogs new tricks can you), it’s a no for me. While most people do want those features I’m pretty sure they don’t need them. It’s just like toppings on a ice cream. I ain’t sure about the privacy either but I do think you’re right somehow.

      1. Leonard Sengere

        Maybe that’s why there is that stigma that GB users have something to hide. If you aren’t really creeping around, you won’t appreciate being able to hide your last seen as much as some do. We don’t need those features.
        I didn’t even know about the update situation. I would be pissed at that. A simple update could wipe your chats if the backups were not in order? Miss me with that.

    5. But Why?

      πŸ™†πŸΎβ€β™‚οΈOMG! I once spent the better part of the day trying to trouble shoot why my cousin’s messages of the last 3+ years disappeared with no backup! I tried the SD trick, the Google drive trick, googling it, binging it, FAQing it and foruming it! Finally realised it was GB and learned backup is a different creature there! When I asked, they couldn’t even remember why they were on it in the first place!!! πŸ˜…

  4. Stone Cold Steve Austin

    What privacy and decency sre you talking about?

  5. 20 Year Old Youth

    So in other words WhatsApp is copying Telegram features bit by bit, πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”right??

    1. King

      Telegram is growing faster than whatsapp especially in Europe and North America …Zuckerberg is trying to save his business 😁😁😁

    2. Leonard Sengere

      It’s like iOS vs Android. One gets the new features first and the other takes its time. Those who use the one that’s slow with the features couldn’t care less that they get these features late.

  6. Telegramification

    Telegramification of WhatsApp in progress.

    1. Bit coins

      Unfortunately that Russian guy Pavel Durov has already won against Zuckerberg on whatsapp vs Telegram…..in UK and Europe most people are using telegram and it’s actually fun to use plus the app is well designed compared to whatsapp.

      1. Leonard Sengere

        I disagree on the design bit. I think WhatsApp looks better but to each their own I guess.

        1. Finda


      2. Anonymous

        Whatsapp is trash compared to telegram…Telegram has better privacy and interface, Whatsapp has Zero privacy its just spams all over. Only smart people use Telegram.

        1. Leonard Sengere

          Only smart people use Telegram? These are just messaging apps my friend. IQ doesn’t come into play. The two apps are more similar than they are different if we’re being honest.

      3. Anonymous

        Americans call him Russian Zuckerberg 😁😁😁😁😁😁

    2. Leonard Sengere

      I’m all for it. Let them bring the best of Telegram to WhatsApp because I’m not going to convince all my contacts to use Telegram, so I might as well get Telegram into WhatsApp.

      1. Anonymous

        Africans are always the last to catch up on new things that’s why the majority of Africans still enjoys Facebook more than Twitter and Instagram.

        1. Kamikaze

          The thing is most Africans don’t know how to use Telegram …Telegram is more complicated than whatsapp that’s why Europeans love it , It took me a while to actually learn to use it coz it’s just not about chatting on Telegram there’s is a lot that’s why in 2023 Telegram growth in Europe and US was 40% compared to whatsapp which had a minus 10%

        2. Leonard Sengere

          I don’t actually think there’s anything wrong with enjoying Facebook more than Twitter. Hakusi kusara. Africans can chart their own path, enjoy their own things.

  7. Robert Ndlovu

    The changes have been accelerated by ChatGPT 4.0
    Life will never be the same for social media companies.
    Silicon Valley going through 5th Industrial revolution preps.

  8. artgeneration

    So many features I only text with it 😰thus all

  9. Anonymous


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