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How messaging apps have improved privacy, functionality in 2023

WhatsApp and Telegram have rolled out important updates to improve user experience, from ‘hidden’ media to new chat features

The new updates point toward an increasing focus on improving privacy settings. (Pexels/Anton)
The new updates point toward an increasing focus on improving privacy settings. (Pexels/Anton)

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The proliferation of smartphones and their undeniable indispensability in our lives makes it crucial for even people with no interest in technology and the workings of the industry to keep an eye on the newer-than-new updates that phone apps roll out. This year's updates such hidden media and disappearing text point toward a increased focus on users' privacy. 

Also read: 5 things to watch at CES 2023 tech megashow

Last year WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal came up with plenty of updates to retain loyal users and flirt with new ones. WhatsApp launched communities, bringing different groups under one umbrella, larger group sizes, and privacy features such as hiding online status and profile picture. Telegram’s updates included a premium account, a new privacy setting for voice messages, and topics in groups. Signal worked on making the app more fun with features such as customized stories.

As the new year peeking at us from the horizon, some of these messaging apps have already launched more updates. Here is all you need to know about them.



Call tab on WhatsApp Web

The Meta-owned platform is working on improving its desktop version. For many users who like to get on quick WhatsApp calls while working, it’s a hassle not to be able to do so on their laptops. The new update might make calls easier, the instant messaging app may soon introduce a call tab for its desktop app. However, note that this update may not come for WhatsApp Web which does not support voice calling yet.

Picture-in-Picture (PIP) for video calls on iOS

The PIP mode, which Android users have been using for a while, will now be available for iPhone users. With PIP mode on, users will be able to use other applications while staying on a WhatsApp call. Users will be reducing the video call to a small interface which can be dragged and placed anywhere on the screen and multitask while on the call.

Companion mode

Currently, WhatsApp users cannot use the same account on two different services on multiple devices. The new feature, Companion mode, will enable users to link and sync their WhatsApp data and use the app with the same profile on different phones. Users will not be logged out from their primary mobile when signing into another. This also means you might be able to use WhatsApp on android and iPhone devices simultaneously.

View once text

To improve privacy, WhatsApp introduced the View Once feature for photos and videos last year. Following up on it, this year the app will be rolling out the feature for texts. Users will be able to send texts which will be automatically deleted after the receiver views it once.

Other notable updates include enabling users to share voice notes on their status similar to photos, videos, and links as well as a screen lock for WhatsApp desktop.



Hidden media

Users might feel safer while using the app with this update. People will be able to cover photos and videos with a shimmering layer that blurs the image. Recipients will be able to tap and view the image. To enable this, go to the attachment menu, select one or more items, tap on the menu, and choose 'Hide with Spoiler.’

Zero storage usage

Messaging apps eat into a big chunk of available space on our phones. Telegram’s new update will change that. The ‘zero storage’ feature will ensure the app takes up almost no space on your device. Users can remove media and documents from the phone's storage and re-download them from their Telegram cloud at any time.

New drawing and text tools

The app’s media editor tool has been redesigned to dynamically change width based on drawing speed and automatically make the lines smooth. A blur tool has been added to hide sensitive data or unwelcome photobombers along with five precision ways to choose a colour.

Users will also be able to change the size, font, and background when adding text to photos or videos. Adding a custom animated emoji is now available for all, not only the premium account users.

Hiding group members

When added to a group, within seconds you start getting weird (often creepy) messages from random strangers. As much as people want to join interesting groups such as those rescuing animals, new updates, and event updates, this breach of privacy forces them to keep their distance. The new feature, the aggressive anti-spam setting, will help chat admins keep big groups clean of groups with more than 100 members who can now choose to hide the member list, thus protecting their members from unwanted personal messages.

As the competition between the messaging apps is well known, all eyes are on the Signal app to introduce new updates this year.

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