What you need to know
- WhatsApp is reportedly adding the ability to set up a username.
- The feature is said to be in the works and will be included in a future update to the messaging app.
- Users will presumably be able to search for other people by entering their username rather than their phone number.
WhatsApp has been spotted developing a new feature that will allow you to create a username, which will be a major change to how users find one another on the app.
According to WABetaInfo, the messaging service is working to add this capability as part of a future update to the app. When and if it goes live, it should be accessible by going to the Profile page in the Settings menu.
The latest development has been discovered in the latest beta version of WhatsApp for Android, with a new field in the profile section of the app providing the option to set up a unique handle. Currently, users can only use their phone numbers to identify themselves. It is also the only way they can search for other people on the Meta-owned platform.
This means your phone number is always visible to anyone in a one-on-one or group chat. By introducing the ability to create a username, users will have an extra layer of privacy.
Many of our favorite messaging apps, like Telegram and Messenger (another Meta-owned service), already allow you to identify your account with a username. WhatsApp is playing catch-up here, as it has done in the past with some of the recent features it has rolled out to users.
It is important to note that WhatsApp has not yet confirmed that it will be adding usernames. And if it does introduce the feature, it's uncertain whether users will be able to hide their phone numbers and only display their usernames instead.
However, the fact that this has been spotted in a beta version of the app suggests that the service is at least considering the possibility. If WhatsApp does decide to add usernames, it could be a major change for the app. Usernames could make it easier for users to find each other, and they could also give users more control over their privacy.
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Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.