WhatsApp is testing an all-knowing AI chatbot that will live in your search bar

WhatsApp on phone
(Image credit: Webster2703/Pixabay)

WhatsApp is slated to receive a pair of AI-powered upgrades aiming to help people answer tough questions on the fly, as well as edit images on the platform.

Starting with answering questions, the upgrade integrates one of Meta’s AI models into the WhatsApp search bar. Doing so, according to WABetaInfo, would allow users to directly input queries without having to create a separate chat room for the AI. You'd be able to hold a quick conversation right on the same page. 

It appears this is an extension of the in-app assistants that originally came out back in November 2023. A screenshot in the report reveals WhatsApp will provide a handful of prompts to get a conversation flowing.

It’s unknown just how capable the search bar AI will be. The assistants are available in different personas specializing in certain topics. But looking at the aforementioned screenshot, it appears the search bar will house the basic Meta AI model. It would be really fun if we could assign the Snoop Dogg persona as the main assistant.

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AI image editing

The second update is a collection of image editing features discovered by industry expert AssembleDebug, after diving into a recent WhatsApp beta. AssembleDebug discovered three possibly upcoming tools – Backdrop, Restyle, and Expand. It’s unknown exactly what they do as not a single one works. However the first two share a name with other features currently available on Instagram, so they may, in fact, function the same way.

Backdrop could let users change the background of an image into something different via text prompt. Restyle can completely alter the art style of an uploaded picture. Think of these like filters, but more capable. You can make a photograph into a watercolor painting or pixel art. It’s even possible to create wholly unique content through a text prompt.

WhatsApp's new image editing tools

(Image credit: AssembleDebug/TheSPAndroid)

Expand is the new kid on the block. Judging by the name, AssembleDebug theorizes it’ll harness the power of AI “to expand images beyond their visible area”. Technology like this already exists on other platforms. Photoshop, for example, has Generative Expand,  and Samsung's Galaxy S24 series can expand images after they have been adjusted by rotation. 

WhatsApp gaining such an ability would be a great inclusion as it’ll give users a robust editing tool that is free. Most versions of this tech are locked behind a subscription or tied to a specific device.

Do keep in mind neither beta is available to early testers at the time of this writing. They're still in the works, and as stated earlier, we don’t know the full capabilities of either set. Regardless of their current status, it is great to see that one day WhatsApp may come equipped with AI tech on the same level as what you’d find on Instagram especially when it comes to the search bar assistant. The update will make accessing that side of Meta software more convenient for everyone.

If you prefer to tweak images on a desktop, check out TechRadar's list of the best free photo editors for PC and Mac.

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Cesar Cadenas
Contributor

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.