iPhone users are getting a very important WhatsApp update right now

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(Image credit: Shutterstock / Ink Drop)

An important new WhatsApp security feature is rolling out for iPhone users right now. If you own an Android phone, you have probably already received an update that allows you to send 'self-destructing' messages, and now Apple fans are getting the option as well.

With the new feature (officially known as 'disappearing messages') sent messages will be deleted from the recipient's phone automatically after seven days. Initially it looked like users might be able to choose how long a message would remain before being deleted, but WhatsApp decided to make things as simple as possible by fixing it at one week.

There are a few important caveats to note though; if the recipient of a disappearing message doesn't open WhatsApp for seven days, the message will be deleted from the chat but may still be visible in their phone's notification area.

If a person receives a disappearing messages, and then forwards it to a chat where disappearing messages are turned off, it won't be deleted.

If a person replies to a disappearing message, the original message will be quoted and that quoted text might not disappear after seven days.

Finally, if someone receives a disappearing message and then backs up their messages, the disappearing message won't be erased from their phone until the backup is restored.

Now you see it...

The launch of disappearing messages for iPhone was spotted by the experts at WABetaInfo, who specialize in tearing down WhatsApp beta releases to discover potential new features that are in development but not yet available to use.

If you want to be the first to try new tools like disappearing messages, you'll need to join one of WhatsApp's beta programs. Unfortunately for iPhone owners, the program for Apple devices is full right now, but it's worth keeping an eye on the Testflight page to see if a space opens up.

To join the beta program for Android, visit the WhatsApp Beta page on Google Play and enter your details. If you already have the public version of WhatsApp installed, it will be updated to the beta version automatically within a few hours.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)