WhatsApp testing new authentication options for users

Whatsapp channels list screen
(Image credit: Meta)

What you need to know

  • The newest beta update for WhatsApp on Android introduces new ways to unlock the app.
  • In addition to biometrics, testers will be able to use face IDs and passcodes to open WhatsApp.
  • This could be particularly beneficial for devices that don’t offer biometric sensors.

WhatsApp continues to work hard to ensure its users' privacy, with recent examples including rolling out blocking screenshots of profile pictures and beta testing an end-to-end encryption indicator to tell users whether or not their conversations are secure. The newest update further seeks to protect users by improving the app lock feature.

Beta update, as reported by WABetaInfo (via Android Police), allows testers to unlock WhatsApp using various methods, including fingerprint, face ID, or even the passcode for the phone it’s on. 

When users enable the app lock, they can use “fingerprint, face or other unique identifiers to open WhatsApp.” Previously, the app lock was only available using biometric authentication, which meant that it was unavailable for users whose phones didn’t have a biometric sensor. 

Screenshot of the changed app unlock screen on WhatsApp beta

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

Now, those users can potentially lock WhatsApp and use an alternate method to unlock it, such as a passcode. And, as WABetaInfo points out, anyone with a broken or malfunctioning biometric sensor on their device would also benefit from having alternative ways of unlocking WhatsApp. 

WhatsApp currently offers two ways of securing conversations on the app: the first is with the app lock, and the second is via chat lock for specific conversations. If you secure specific chats, you need to use a fingerprint or your face to unlock them. This update appears to apply only to the app lock, not the chat lock. Whether this is likely to be introduced at a later date is unclear.

Currently, this update is only available to some beta testers, with the expectation that it will be rolled out to more users in the coming days. However, users are being warned against installing this particular beta update as some are encountering crashes upon opening the app. Instead, beta testers are being advised to wait for a future update, which may fix this particular issue. 

Steven Shaw

Steven Shaw is a full-time freelancer, but before he changed his career at the start of 2021, he was in the retail industry, leading teams to achieve goals in selling technology products, such as smartphones, tablets, and more. Graduating from the University of Cambridge with a Masters in Medieval History, he's always had a passion for the topic, alongside technology and many Simpsons quotes.