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According to several reports and images that have surfaced online, it appears that WhatsApp is testing fingerprint authentication on the instant messaging app for Android, as confirmed by @WABetaInfo on its social media page and a blog post.
There’s no arguing that WhatsApp is the biggest instant messaging application. This feat can be attributed to the many standout features of the platform, one of which is security. End-to-end encryption debuted on WhatsApp two years ago to ensure secure communication and make messages more private (like a face-to-face conversation) and now, Fingerprint authentication is coming to further up the security and privacy of messages and data on the app
About how the feature will be implemented, WABetaInfo reports that when the feature is finally pushed as an update to the app, users will be able to toggle on/off fingerprint (as shown below) in a new “Authentication” pane under the Privacy menu of the app. The fingerprint authentication option is expected to be located under the “Read Receipts“. option
Once enabled, WhatsApp will prompt you to place your finger on your fingerprint sensor for authentication whenever you open the app. And irrespective of where or how you try to get into the app (perhaps from your phone’s notification tray, from other applications, or be it from the app icon itself0 WhatsApp will request for your fingerprint — long as you have the feature is activated and your device is fingerprint-enabled. That said, the feature will lock the entire app, not specific chats.
As an icing on the cake, WABetaInfo also reports that users will be able to use their default phone credentials (like PIN, password or Facial recognition perhaps) to open WhatsApp in lieu of using fingerprint. I, however, think fingerprint is enough though as it is the easiest and fastest form of smartphone biometric authentication. However, using other device credentials comes in handy should WhatsApp not recognize your print or your phone’s fingerprint sensor goes faulty.
When WhatsApp fingerprint authentication officially roll out?
At the moment, the source reports that the feature is still much in its early developmental stages. Furthermore, the feature was recently pushed as an update to the version 2.19.3 of the WhatsApp Beta app through Google Play Store’s Beta testing program immediately after the company resumed from Christmas break. So this is a totally new development which might take time to fully manifest on the app. To add, WhatsApp is said to be making this feature for Android phones running the Marshmallow OS or newer.
Interestingly, in the next update that we’d be getting from the Play Store, fingerprint authentication might not be the only new feature WhatsApp has in store for users. The company is also reportedly working on an “Audio Picker” that will allow users play and preview audio files before sending them.
The new in-development audio picker will allow users select and send up to 30 audio files simultaneously. The fingerprint authentication, audio picker, as well as other features are set to hit WhatsApp for Android at an unspecified date in the future. Of course, these features will be available for iOS device too but no date is in view.