WhatsApp is bringing even more options to disappearing messages

WhatsApp logo shown on a smartphone
(Image credit: Alex Ruhl / Shutterstock.com)

The development of disappearing messages is an on-going process in WhatsApp. It has been possible to configure messages to self-destruct after a period of a week for a little while now, and there is also the option of having media files vanish after they have been viewed once by recipients.

But now more options are on the way. Beta builds of WhatsApp earlier this year showed signs of working being underway on the ability to have message deleted after one day, and now it appears that at least one more option is in the pipeline.

WABetaInfo spotted a new option in the latest beta version of WhatsApp for Android. In addition to the 24-hour option that has been undergoing testing for a few months, there is now also a 90-day auto-deletion setting.

Although the new setting is not yet functional – even in the beta build of the app – WhatsApp is building up to giving users the ability to have messages they send be deleted after three months elapses. Although all of the potential timeframes for auto-deletion of messages are useful for sending delicate or time-sensitive information there is nothing to prevent a recipient from saving a disappearing message by screenshotting it.

Into thin air

While it's great to see that WhatsApp is going to develop new features and extend the options available in those that already exist, the timescale to which the company is working is unknown. For instance, the option to have messages disappear after 24-houirs has been in the beta version of the app since April without progressing to the main release.

It is entirely possible that the new 90-day option will remain a beta-only option for quite some time while WhatsApp gains feedback from tester about how the feature has been implemented. But not only is it not possible to say quite when a feature will be promoted from the beta to the main app, it is impossible to say for certain if this will happen.

As with all beta software, the tests that are carried out in the WhatsApp beta are just that: tests. What is seen in the preview builds of the app may well get a full release, but it is not guaranteed, and there is always the chance that things will been tweaked and changed before a full public launch.

Analysis: more choice is less?

While WhatsApp users will undoubtedly welcome the arrival of additional options – and, by extension, greater choice – the limitations that are being imposed on disappearing messages are a little confusing. The three available timeframes are quite strangely spread out. A day and a week are fairly obvious choices to have included, but to then jump to three months (rather than, say, one month) seems a bit strange.

But perhaps the most important question to ask here is why are users not being given unlimited choice? It would be perfectly possible for WhatsApp to give people the ability to specify a number of days, weeks, or months before a message vanishes, and it is hard to understand quite why the decision has been taken to have hard limits on the available settings.

It is difficult to imagine many scenarios in which 90 days is deemed the perfect time after which a message should be deleted, but it's safe to assume that WhatsApp has done some research into what users are looking for. It would still have been nice to have been given more flexibility.

Via WABetaInfo

Sofia Elizabella Wyciślik-Wilson
Freelance writer

Sofia is a tech journalist who's been writing about software, hardware and the web for nearly 25 years – but still looks as youthful as ever! After years writing for magazines, her life moved online and remains fueled by technology, music and nature.

Having written for websites and magazines since 2000, producing a wide range of reviews, guides, tutorials, brochures, newsletters and more, she continues to write for diverse audiences, from computing newbies to advanced users and business clients. Always willing to try something new, she loves sharing new discoveries with others.

Sofia lives and breathes Windows, Android, iOS, macOS and just about anything with a power button, but her particular areas of interest include security, tweaking and privacy. Her other loves include walking, music, her two Malamutes and, of course, her wife and daughter.

You can find her on Twitter and Mastodon.