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WhatsApp’s ‘View Once’ feature might expand to include text messages

WhatsApp’s ‘View Once’ feature might expand to include text messages


It originally launched with support for photos and videos.

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A photo of an iPhone running WhatsApp.
Photo by Thomas Ricker / The Verge

WhatsApp’s “View Once” feature, which currently lets you send photos and videos that disappear after the recipient has viewed them, may soon also support standard text-based messages. WABetaInfo reports that it found evidence of the in-development feature in the latest beta version of WhatsApp’s Android app, which might one day let users send messages that are only viewable once before disappearing into the ether.

Much like the current “View Once” feature, the new functionality could one day be useful for sending sensitive information that you don’t want a recipient to have ongoing access to, like a password or credit card details. In fact, when WhatsApp announced the launch of View Once for photos and videos, it used the example of someone sending a photo of their Wi-Fi login details as a case where it might be useful. It’s not hard to imagine this same information being sent in the form of a disappearing text message.

WhatsApp already offers a disappearing messages feature which allows you to set every message sent in a chat to disappear after a set period of time. But the new “View Once” feature would only apply to a specific message rather than a whole conversation, and would have a message disappear after it’s been viewed, rather than after a set period of time.

As it stands, WABetaInfo reports that the feature may one day be accessible via a button in the app that has the traditional send message logo on it combined with a padlock. But since the feature is in-development, and currently isn’t even available to beta testers, this design may change before it’s officially released.

WhatsApp currently prevents recipients from being able to screenshot a piece of view once media if they’re using the most recent version of its app, but it’s unclear whether this same protection will be extended to text messages. 

A spokesperson for WhatsApp declined to comment on WABetaInfo’s report on the upcoming feature, so it’s unclear when, or even if, it might be officially available.