Feature Update: WhatsApp Could Soon Replace Phone Numbers With Usernames

The username may also appear in other sections of the app, such as the group participants list. However, this feature does not hide the phone number of group members, as it is still visible within the chat bubble, but this is still a good step.

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Meta Apps - Messenger, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram
Meta Apps - Messenger, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram

WhatApp is a great chat app, but it has its limitations, some of which have been addressed by Meta over the last couple of years.

While it has a long way to go in terms of storing messages on the cloud, the messaging app has come a long way in that segment; messages can be stored in Google Drive, although the process of doing so is not the smoothest (it does not happen automatically, and backups take a while to upload – among other issues).

The lack of a solid cloud solution means that WhatsApp cannot be run on multiple devices, at least to some extent. Users can use WhatsApp on their PCs and tablets, either via the web or native Windows/macOS apps, but the setup can only happen if done via a primary account on a phone. WhatsApp has since attempted to counter this issue by making an account running on a non-primary device, say PC, run for two weeks in a case where a connection has been broken (say, if a person has lost a device).

Now, another issue that has been around is the case of usernames, numbers, and general privacy. See, in Telegram, for instance, you can give someone your username, and you can have conversations with them without them ever knowing your number. Telegram also has a privacy setting that allows users to hide their numbers from people they do not know.

WhatsApp, however, does not have that feature, but this is about to change. It is launching a new update via the Google Play Beta Program, which will update the version to 2.23.5.12.

The update brings new functionality that is likely to be appreciated by a lot of users, particularly those who participate in big group conversations. This feature will replace phone numbers with usernames in the chat list whenever an anonymous contact sends you a message in a group chat.

The latest update extends this feature to the chat list, making it easier for users to identify unknown contacts without having to save the number as a new contact.

The username may also appear in other sections of the app, such as the group participants list. However, this feature does not hide the phone number of group members, as it is still visible within the chat bubble.

The feature has been released to some iOS beta testers who have installed the WhatsApp beta for iOS 23.5.0.73 update.

This a great development, and we hope WhatsApp will fully allow users to replace their phone numbers with a username for conversations.

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Kenn Abuya is a friend of technology, with bias in enterprise and mobile tech. Share your thoughts, tips and hate mail at [email protected]

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