We've seen some brilliant Android developments recently, including some excellent news about Android TV adoption and also a smart new feature coming to Android Auto.
However, arguably the biggest in terms of upgrading most people's smartphone experience has been a series of new WhatsApp feature updates announced for the OS recently.
T3 has reported on these new Android WhatsApp features, most of which have been communicated on the official WhatsApp blog (opens in new tab), and right here we explain what they are and how Android users can use them.
1. View once photos and videos enhance privacy
The latest (and arguably biggest) WhatsApp update on Android is the app's new View Once photos and videos feature. This feature has been designed to address two things: the first is that not every image or video shared on WhatsApp needs to be saved to a person's camera roll, and secondly to enhance and protect a person's privacy.
The View Once function, if selected, means that photos and videos can now be shared and that, as the name suggests, they can only be viewed once by any other person in the chat. This means that, for example, you can share an image of a Wi-Fi password or driving licence, and then once viewed by the intended recipient, it will be inaccessible and won't be stored on their phone.
Once a file is viewed it is marked as "opened" in the chat history, just so everyone can see if it has been viewed or not.
To use the View Once feature, when selecting a piece of media click the small "1" icon in the caption bar. This will toggle on the View Once setting.
2. Join group calls even after they've started
Another great feature for WhatsApp on Android is the new ability to join a group call even if it has already started. Group calls have, for obvious reasons, become a lot more popular over the past 18 months, and now a WhatsApp user can join in to a call that is already live even if they missed it beginning.
Group calls allow up to eight WhatsApp users to video call with each other, however, before this update there was no way for anyone who missed the start of the call to get involved. Now, though, they can. To join a group call that is already in progress simply go to the "Calls" tab in WhatsApp and tap "Join" to get involved.
This update also has added the ability to preview participants in a group call before joining. You can also now join a group call if you have previously selected the "Ignore" option.
3. Archived chats now remain archived and muted
Another small but very welcome Android feature update for WhatsApp is the fact that now if a user has archived a chat it will remain archived and muted even if a new message gets sent in it.
So, for example, if you've got a regular ski trip that is planned with friends and you've got a WhatsApp group for it that gets used for planning in the months leading up to it, if that has been archived for the rest of the year it won't then pop back in to your chats history if a new message gets fired into it in the middle of summer.
This feature can be turned off, too. Archiving of chats, as ever, can easily be done in the WhatsApp setting menu.
4. Chat history transfer between devices lands on Android
A feature that is rolling out imminently, WhatsApp is finally bringing the ability to transfer your chat history between devices to Android. This means that if you get a new mobile phone you won't lose all your old device's chat history in WhatsApp, which has been a seriously inconvenient problem with the service up till now.
Speaking on the new feature, product manager at WhatsApp Sandeep Paruchuri has said that:
"We’re excited for the first time to make it easy for people to securely transfer their WhatsApp history from one operating system to another. This has been one of our most requested features from users for years and we worked together with operating systems and device manufacturers to solve it."
The chat transfer feature was debuted at the recent Samsung Unpacked event as it is coming to Samsung Android phones first in a few weeks time, but will then shortly after land on Android phones in general.
5. WhatsApp web multi-device upgrade
The final big update that's come to Android in the WhatsApp beta app is that you can now use it on up to four devices at one time and, importantly, you don't have to have your phone with you to use it.
This is a game-changer as it means you can use, say, WhatsApp web on PC and send messages or make calls just as if you were using another chat service, but without having to have your phone with you.
You do still need your phone to initiate the first link to the other device, but after that is established you can use WhatsApp on that device without issue. If you don't use your phone for 14 days, though, then the linked devices are automatically disconnected.
As noted above, this feature is currently available in the WhatsApp beta app, but is slated to be rolling out to everyone imminently.
So, there you go, plenty of great new WhatsApp features for the Android version of the app. Naturally, to make sure you have the very latest upgrades be sure to make sure you are running the latest version of WhatsApp from the Google Play store, as you could already be missing out on neat functionality.
- These are the best Android phones to use WhatsApp on