WhatsApp’s October 2023 All Changes and Revolution and Enhancements updates

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By Dave Winer

WhatsApp's October 2023 All Changes

WhatsApp’s October 2023 Update: A Fresh Look at New Features and Enhancements

In the world of instant messaging, WhatsApp stands as a giant, connecting billions of people daily for work, family, and social interactions. Owned by Meta, WhatsApp has not only maintained its dominance in 2023 but has also introduced a series of updates and features, some of which draw inspiration from other popular messaging apps like Telegram.

October 2023 was particularly eventful, with Meta’s engineering team rolling out several updates that reflect WhatsApp’s ongoing commitment to user privacy and security, along with some highly anticipated features.

Multiple Accounts, One Device

For years, WhatsApp users have been hoping for the ability to use the app with multiple phone numbers on the same device. Previously, this required either using third-party software to clone the app or carrying a secondary phone solely for WhatsApp. However, this October brought a significant change. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the official support for multiple user accounts on the same device. This update is particularly beneficial for those with dual-SIM phones.

WhatsApp has ensured that while user accounts share device resources like storage and contacts, conversations, privacy settings, and notifications remain separate for each account. This development, which began in June, finally came to fruition, making it easier for users to manage multiple aspects of their lives from a single device.

The Rise of Passkeys

In a move to enhance user privacy, WhatsApp introduced passkey support. This feature allows users to bypass the traditional SMS-delivered two-factor authentication (2FA) code and instead use secure on-device biometrics, like a fingerprint, to sign in to their accounts. Passkeys come into play when setting up a new phone or resetting an old one. They offer several security advantages, such as eliminating password reuse and reducing the risk of phishing scams.

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Passkeys work by matching cryptographic keys between your device and WhatsApp servers. On your device, biometric authentication confirms your identity, making passkeys immune to attacks that can intercept SMS-delivered 2FA codes. This method is not only more secure but also quicker and easier than using a conventional password or one-time password (OTP).

Enhancements in Voice Messaging

Meta has also turned its attention to voice messages. One of the notable tests in October was the introduction of self-destructing voice messages, which would disappear after being played once. This feature would add voice messages to the list of view-once media formats on WhatsApp, which currently include photos and videos.

Additionally, WhatsApp is working on voice message support in channels, allowing administrators to record and share clips with a larger audience. This would be a significant step forward, as channels currently only support sharing images, videos, and text.

Community Events and Text-Based Gatherings

WhatsApp introduced communities earlier in the year to facilitate large-scale interactions through topical groups. In October, Meta added features to communities, allowing members to gather at a specified time for text-based events. Participants can schedule these events using the attachment button in the message box.

Interface Redesign

WhatsApp has been experimenting with a new user interface (UI) design over the past few months. In October, this new design reached a broader audience, including many beta testers. Changes include a bottom-aligned navigation bar, new toggles in the app settings, a darker chat background, and a different color for the in-app logo.

Enhanced Chat Privacy

Another privacy-focused change allows users to hide chats they’ve locked for privacy reasons. This feature adds an extra layer of security by keeping private conversations out of sight. To reveal hidden chats, users need to enter a secret code in the WhatsApp search bar, followed by the unlock code for each locked chat.

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Phasing Out Older Android Versions

As WhatsApp evolves, it’s essential to phase out support for older Android versions to deploy advanced features effectively. In October, WhatsApp dropped support for Android 4.4 and older versions. The app now requires at least Android 5.0 to run. This move is expected to affect less than 1% of users worldwide, based on Android version distribution stats.

Looking Ahead

These beta changes are expected to make their way to the stable channel after sufficient testing. While Meta rarely provides specific timelines, users can look forward to these updates becoming widely available in the near future.

So in October 2023, this was a significant month for WhatsApp, with updates that not only enhance user experience but also reinforce the app’s commitment to privacy and security. These changes reflect WhatsApp’s ongoing efforts to stay ahead in the competitive world of instant messaging, ensuring that it remains a preferred choice for billions of users worldwide.

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