FACEBOOK-OWNED WhatsApp has added biometric authentication to its iPhone app, allowing users to "lock" their, er, private conversations using Face ID or Touch ID.
While the new 'Screen Lock' feature doesn't work on a per chat basis, it allows the app to be "locked" until its launched using Face ID (for iPhone X, XS, XS Max and iPhone XR users) or Touch ID (for users of the iPhone 8 Plus and below).
If you've got some messages you'd like to, er, keep locked away, update WhatsApp to the latest version (2.19.20) and head to Settings > Account > Privacy and enable Screen Lock. You can set a time limit immediately, after one minute, after 15 minutes or after one hour) for the app to lock itself in, depending on the nature of your messages.
As noted by 9to5Mac, which first caught wind of the privacy-conscious update, users will still be able to view WhatsApp notifications and quick reply within iOS.
WhatsApp is said to be testing a similar feature for Android users but hasn't yet said when this will be released.
While the messaging app is taking steps to improve security, its privacy focus was recently thrown into doubt after Facebook announced plans to merge Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp into a cross-platform service.
The move will reportedly see the three services become a single tool at the end of what the New York Times reports will be a "long process", which could result in a single powerhouse of a service.
WhatsApp, for example, uses end-to-end encryption but lacks a desktop app, which Facebook Messenger has. Instagram has a huge user base that could lure refuseniks into the instant messaging aspect.
All three brands will remain, according to reports, but will work on a single back-end that will allow users to cross post and communicate with users of other services. μ
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