A beta version of the Android app includes a hidden WhatsApp newsletters feature, which the company appears to be readying for testing. Such tests are normally conducted on the Android app ahead of the iOS one …
WAbetainfo discovered references to the feature in beta 18.104.22.168.
WhatsApp is now working on a new feature called Newsletter. To be honest, we cannot say for sure that it is really called “Newsletter” as it seems a codename at the moment, but we can temporarily call it that way.
Newsletters will be a one-to-many tool for broadcasting information and they look like a new way to easily receive useful updates from people and groups like local officials, sports teams, or other organizations. Thanks to Newsletters, users will finally be able to choose who they want to hear from and follow broadcasters of their choice right within WhatsApp.
The site notes that WhatsApp newsletters are likely intended as an extension to the Communities feature. This allows communities to link together up to 10 groups. For example, many interest groups have two WhatsApp groups, one for on-topic conversations, another for off-topic chat, so people can choose whether or not to participate in both. A WhatsApp Community offers the ability to have linked groups, and includes a broadcast facility to forward messages to all relevant groups.
WAbetainfo reports that the Newsletter feature appears as a “separate and optional” section of the app, keeping it distinct from standard chats and groups. This is likely because not everyone will want to use it, but also because Newsletters won’t offer the end-to-end encryption used for individual and group chats. The site suggests this is because there is no benefit in what is effectively intended to be a public broadcast feature.
However, other privacy measures are included. In particular, nobody will be able to see which newsletters you subscribe to. Unlike group chats, your name and phone number are hidden by default – including from the newsletter owner.
Earlier this month, WhatsApp rolled out an update to the iPhone app that offers a picture-in-picture feature for video calls, so you can access other apps while still viewing the chat.
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