Heeding thousands of requests from Android users around the world, WhatsApp will now let them hide their timestamps. This comes days after the extremely popular messaging app was thrown a red carpet and brought under the Facebook umbrella with a $19 billion acquisition.
The highly coveted feature, which was for years available only to WhatsApp’s iOS users, lets people keep to themselves when they were last seen online. Now WhatsApp users across platforms can choose whether or not they want to display their timestamp and who exactly is privy to their visibility.
The new feature will extend to the visibility of profile photos and status messages too, much like the way Facebook allows users to customize what they want to display publicly. As of now, this feature has been introduced only over the Android platform, meaning WhatsApp’s iOS users will have to wait for it.
While the update is yet to become available on Google Play, WhatsApp is expected to cross that bridge very soon. For users who cannot wait until the new privacy updates enter Google Play, the official website of WhatsApp allows download of the APK file. The security settings on android devices need to be changed before the new update can be installed.
Once installed onto an android device, the APK file will present users with two options – to use either ‘Package Installer’ or ‘Verify and Install’. WhatsApp asks users to choose the Package Installer option, which will seek permission to make changes to the app. When allowed, the installer will not affect the user’s existing WhatsApp data.
After the app has been updated this way, users need to select Account and later Privacy from within the Settings menu on the app. The Privacy option provides users with three choices, namely, ‘Everyone’, ‘My Contacts’ and ‘Nobody’. WhatsApp’s latest update that now lets Android users hide their timestamp comes with a catch: Once a user hides their online presence, they will simultaneously forego the ability to see other people’s timestamps, whether or not they have changed their privacy settings. The rare iPhone user who may not yet be aware of how to change their visibility on WhatsApp, can choose the ‘Advanced’ option within the ‘Chat Settings’. Preferences can be changed by using the toggle button.
Android users will have another interesting edge over their iOS counterparts: They can switch between being ‘seen’ and ‘unseen’ more than once in a day – there is no upper limit on the number of times they can switch. However, users with iPhone need to wait an entire 24 hours before they can change their visibility.
The update, which has been implemented a little differently over the Android platform, now allows WhatsApp users to hide not just their timestamps, but also their pictures and statuses from prying eyes. The increased user autonomy could greatly accelerate the app’s patronage in the coming days. WhatsApp, which will continue to operate independently despite its recent purchase by Facebook, works on a 2.1 or higher version of Android.
By Aruna Iyer