Facebook-owned WhatsApp is testing a new privacy feature in its mobile app for the iPhone and Android handsets, dubbed Disappearing Mode, which supports sending and receiving vanishing messages similar to Snapchat, Signal, and other messaging apps.
WhatsApp Testing Auto-Vanishing Messages
This was first reported by WABetaInfo, a site dedicated to discovering unreleased features in popular software. This isn’t the only unreleased feature being tested on iOS and Android. As a matter of fact, WhatsApp is also working on sticker suggestions and recently rolled out a new feature on iOS that enables you to export specific chats.
How To Turn On WhatsApp Disappearing Mode
Off by default, Disappearing Mode has to be turned on manually in your WhatsApp settings.
To turn on Disappearing Mode for all chats going forward, go to WhatsApp Settings > Privacy > Disappearing Mode, then set the Disappearing Mode switch to the ON position. Don’t worry about Disappearing Mode erasing your existing chats. “When this setting is on, new chats will begin with disappearing messages on,” reads the feature’s description.
Any messages exchanged in Disappearing Mode are automatically erased after being read.
You can also turn Disappearing Mode on or off separately for each WhatsApp conversation.
To do so, open any chat from your conversation list, then tap the chat header at the top to reveal contact or group information. From there, you can enable or disable Disappearing Mode for that particular chat only.
It’s unclear from the WABetaInfo report whether there’s a timer option to specify when the messages will disappear. In the messaging app Signal, for example, the message will disappear from the devices after the timer has elapsed.
When Is WhatsApp Launching Disappearing Mode Publicly?
Currently, in development, the new Disappearing Mode feature will be available in a future WhatsApp update for iOS and Android.
WhatsApp regularly tests unreleased features with a small subset of its users on iOS and Android via its WhatsApp Beta program. While the vast majority of those features make it past testing, eventually reaching all customers, some of them get pulled without explanation and never see the light of day.
Chances are high for the Disappearing Mode feature to launch publicly. Many competing messaging apps support vanishing messages as one of the ways of boosting user privacy.
The sooner, the better.