WhatsApp is now testing a new ‘watch once’ feature for photos and videos on Android, and iOS users are expected to gain access at a later date.
WhatsApp is rolling out a new ‘watch once’ feature for photos and videos for certain beta testers of the Android app. The new addition to WhatsApp’s expiring media tools comes after WhatsApp’s messy policy changes earlier this year. While WhatsApp claims not to have lost a large number of users due to its changes, the company has spent several months backtracking statements about how the policy changes would affect users.
Facebook, WhatsApp’s parent company, has previously experimented with bringing ephemeral to its messaging platforms when WhatsApp introduced ‘disappearing messages’ last year. However, unlike the View Once feature, disappearing messages are removed from chat rooms after seven days. Later, disappearing messages were added to Messenger and Instagram.
According to WABetaInfoTo use the View Once feature, users simply select the timer button on the right side of the text field where an image would be placed. When selected, users will receive a text icon notifying that the view once has been activated and a message with the icon View once can be viewed in text chat. Once the image or video is closed by the recipient, the message will be replaced with a “Timed out“Notification. Of course, viewing once does not mean that recipients cannot take a screenshot of the sent media. Similarly, users who are blocked by the sender can still interact with media configured to see once if they share common chat rooms with the sender.
Expanding media platforms that expire
Currently view once is only supported for beta WhatsApp accounts on devices running version 184.108.40.206 of the Android app. While anyone who wants to test beta features can sign up through the Google Play Store, WhatsApp’s beta testing program is currently closed. For now, users who want to get their hands on the View Once feature will have to wait until the full release with a future update. Similarly, although the feature is only available on Android, iOS users will also be able to use View Once to send photos and videos with a future update.
Although the feature shares similarities with Snapchat tools, it lacks the customization that makes Snapchat as popular as it is today. The beta version of WhatsApp only allows users to set posted media to be viewed once, rather than setting custom parameters like deleting media after 24 hours or saving media to a chat room after posting. Snapchat also allows users to set entire chats to automatically delete after 24 hours. Not to mention, Snapchat users can also go into a story’s settings and see which users have viewed and even taken screenshots. However, ephemeral content is Snapchat’s bread and butter, while WhatsApp and Facebook are still catching up.
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