WhatsApp could get a major free safety and security upgrade

The next update for the popular messaging app could bring a great feature for your peace of mind

WhatsApp on iPhone
(Image credit: Rik Henderson / Future)

When it comes to third-party messaging apps, there are few with the household name status of WhatsApp. The iconic green icon made a name for itself early on, offering encrypted messaging that could work easily across both iPhone and Android phones.

In recent times, the app has been littered with new updates every few weeks. Since the summer, we've seen the introduction of screen sharing on video calls, hi-res content sharing in chats, and the ability to silence unwanted calls among a host of other features.

Now, another is being rumoured – and it could be a game changer for keeping yourself safe online. The feature – shared by WhatsApp specialist blog, WABetaInfo – shows off the ability to create an alternate profile appearance for your account.

That allows users to utilise a different name and profile image for their contacts and people who they don't know. For example, I could use a silly selfie and call myself "S-Dawg" to my friends, but keep a more professional headshot and name for anyone who doesn't have my contact info.

That's handy from a professional angle, but it also offers a brilliant upgrade for safety and security. For users who wish retain a degree of privacy – younger users, for example – you could have an ambiguous profile picture for users who don't have your contact information, without losing your favourite picture for friends and family.

So can you use this right now? Not quite. The feature was found as part of the beta version of the app in a testing capacity. You won't find it in the stable version of the app right now.

Still, it's a positive sign. The fact that the feature is in testing is a good sign for users, and makes it more likely to appear in the stable version of the app later on down the line.

Until then, users will just have to wait patiently. We'll certainly be keeping an eye out for more details on this one, though, so watch this space. 

Sam Cross
Staff Writer

Online news writer at T3.com, Sam has five years of experience in online and print journalism, with work featured in publications like Metro and Last Word on Sports. After years writing about music and football, Sam now turns his hand to bringing you news about new phones, smart home products, smart watches, laptops and TVs. Sam is a longtime fan and user of Apple products, including iPhones, MacBooks and Apple Watches.He’s also T3’s resident football expert, bringing you everything you need to know about the big games, including how to watch them. In his spare time, Sam is a keen guitarist, watch lover and (very) amateur golfer.