WhatsApp is rolling out a way to hide your “last seen” status from specific contacts as well as the ability to leave a group without notifying other users.
Last December, WhatsApp started hiding users’ online status from strangers by default. While this was a step in the right direction, it still allows your entire list of contacts to see whether you’re online. WhatsApp’s upcoming update is supposed to fix that, though, as it will let you choose which contacts can see your status. So, if you don’t want someone to know that you’re ignoring their message, toggle on the setting for that user, and they’ll (hopefully) never know the difference.
WhatsApp is also launching another handy feature that will let you silently leave groups. Right now, the app (very obnoxiously) notifies every user in the group of your departure, which could prompt some group members to message you privately to ask why you left. The new feature is the digital equivalent of the Irish Goodbye — the act of leaving a party without telling anyone — and should help eliminate the awkwardness that comes along with exiting a chat.
WhatsApp says it’ll start rolling out these two features this month and that it’s also working on a way to block users from taking screenshots of “view once” messages. Unlike disappearing messages, view once messages don’t vanish after a specific time limit — they go away after the recipient has seen it once, sort of like a photo or video sent through Snapchat. Adding a way to block screenshots could help prevent users from saving or sharing sensitive information with others. This feature’s still in testing, but WhatsApp says it’ll start rolling it out to users “soon.”
WhatsApp has made several other small but meaningful updates this year. In addition to rolling out emoji reactions and introducing a way to speed up voice messages, the platform also started letting Android users transfer their chat history to iPhone.