WhatsApp Just Made It Easier to Record Long Voice Messages and Watch YouTube Video Links

WhatsApp received an update on Tuesday introducing a couple of notable feature additions, namely, a more convenient way to record long voice messages, and a picture-in-picture mode for viewing YouTube videos.

WhatsApp's voice message recording ability has been a popular feature on the chat platform for a good while now, but the fact that you had to hold down the microphone button to keep recording could get frustrating if you wanted to send a particularly long chunk of audio in one go.

So, starting today, WhatsApp is introducing Locked Recordings. Now, when you hold the mic button to record a message, a padlock UI element soon appears along the right-hand side of the chat window which allows you to slide up and lock the recording to give your finger a rest. When you're done, tapping the send button ends the audio recording and sends it on its way.

A couple of things that might be obvious to some users, but are still worth noting: when making a Locked Recording, you can't view media in a thread unless you use a 3D Touch action, and you can't navigate to another chat.

The other worthwhile addition in version 2.17.81 is the ability to watch YouTube videos you've received in a chat right from within WhatsApp. Thanks to picture-in-picture, you can also keep watching the video as you navigate to another chat. At the time of writing, PiP doesn't seem to be working for all users who have updated, so WhatsApp could still be working to roll it out more broadly behind the scenes.

WhatsApp is a free download for iPhone from the App Store. [Direct Link]


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Afghan Government Moves to Block WhatsApp, Telegram Messaging Services

Afghanistan's government has ordered a block on messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram, according to a letter sent to the country's internet providers that was widely shared over social media on Saturday.

The letter was reportedly sent to Afghan ISPs after the country's National Directorate for Security ordered the move, in what some observers believe is an attempt to prevent use of the encrypted messaging services by the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

According to Reuters, the letter by telecoms regulator ATRA, dated November 1 and signed by an official of the regulator, directed internet companies to block Telegram and Facebook's WhatsApp services "without delay" for a period of 20 days.

However, the temporary ban does not yet appear to have been enforced, with both services said to be still working normally on Saturday on both state-owned operator Salaam and private service providers.


Public use of mobile phones has boomed in Afghanistan since the Taliban was removed from power by a U.S-led campaign in 2001, while use of services like WhatsApp, Messenger, and Viber are popular among the country's politicians as well as the Taliban, which also maintains a sophisticated social media operation.

However, civil rights groups and Afghan social media users have criticized the attempt to block the chat platforms. Many argue such a ban is unenforceable anyway because it can be circumvented by the use of virtual private networks (VPNs).

Prominent newspaper editor Parwiz Kawa told the BBC that his country was finally an open society after years of censorship, therefore any ban on social media would not be tolerated.

"The public reaction - including our own front page - is to resist," he said. "We can't tolerate any ban on social media or any censorship."

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WhatsApp Starts Letting Users Delete Messages After They’ve Been Sent

WhatsApp is currently rolling out the ability to delete and revoke messages after they've been sent. The function has been in testing as a hidden feature in several earlier versions of the mobile chat app, but is officially going live this week.

Going forward, WhatsApp users will be able delete messages from conversations and group chats up to seven minutes after they've tapped the send button, as long as both sender and receiver have updated to the latest version of the app.

The new option, called "Delete for everyone" will appear in addition to "Delete for me", and is already showing up for some users when they select a message to trash.

In a published support article, WhatsApp notes that recipients "may see your messages before it's deleted or if deletion was not successful", so the feature isn't guaranteed to work all the time. It's also possible that some users may still see the messages in notifications before they're deleted.

Users aren't notified if a delete request fails, but messages that have been successfully deleted for everyone will be replaced with "This message was deleted" in recipients' chat threads.

According to WABetaInfo, WhatsApp is currently testing group voice calls internally, so it's likely this feature will also turn up in a forthcoming update.

WhatsApp is a free download for iPhone from the App Store. [Direct Link]


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WhatsApp Starts Letting Users Delete Messages After They’ve Been Sent

WhatsApp is currently rolling out the ability to delete and revoke messages after they've been sent. The function has been in testing as a hidden feature in several earlier versions of the mobile chat app, but is officially going live this week.

Going forward, WhatsApp users will be able delete messages from conversations and group chats up to seven minutes after they've tapped the send button, as long as both sender and receiver have updated to the latest version of the app.

The new option, called "Delete for everyone" will appear in addition to "Delete for me", and is already showing up for some users when they select a message to trash.

In a published support article, WhatsApp notes that recipients "may see your messages before it's deleted or if deletion was not successful", so the feature isn't guaranteed to work all the time. It's also possible that some users may still see the messages in notifications before they're deleted.

Users aren't notified if a delete request fails, but messages that have been successfully deleted for everyone will be replaced with "This message was deleted" in recipients' chat threads.

According to WABetaInfo, WhatsApp is currently testing group voice calls internally, so it's likely this feature will also turn up in a forthcoming update.

WhatsApp is a free download for iPhone from the App Store. [Direct Link]


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WhatsApp Gains Support for Live Location Sharing

Popular messaging app WhatsApp was today updated with a new feature that's designed to allow WhatsApp users to share their location in real-time with family and friends.

Live Location through WhatsApp features end-to-end encryption and includes tools to allow users to specify who they share their location with and for how long.


To use Live Location, WhatsApp users need to open a chat with a person or group, select the "Location" feature in the attach button, and then choose the new option to "Share Live Location." When selecting the share option, users can select an amount of time the location sharing feature will last before expiring.

The person on the other end will be able to see the user's real-time location on a map, and if, in a group chat, more than one person shares their location, multiple locations will be displayed on the same map.

Live Location is available on both iOS and Android devices, and it will be rolling out to the WhatsApp apps "in the coming weeks."

WhatsApp can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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WhatsApp Video and Photo Messages Reportedly Blocked in China

China has reportedly started blocking some features of the WhatsApp messaging service, as authorities continue to tighten controls over the country's internet.

WhatsApp users began reporting problems with sharing content on the chat platform yesterday, with many unable to send video and pictures. Despite initial fears of a communications-wide ban of the Facebook-owned service, text-based messages within the app appear to be unaffected.

WhatsApp's reach in China is small compared to homegrown chat service WeChat, which boasts 900 million users but is routinely subjected to state monitoring and censorship. However, Chinese users concerned about privacy have increasingly turned to the encrypted WhatsApp platform to communicate with friends and relatives as well as businesses abroad.

Facebook and Instagram have remained blocked by China's Great Firewall since 2009 and 2014, respectively. Encrypted messaging service Telegram was also blocked inside China after it became popular with the country's human rights lawyers, while several domestic VPNs – which are commonly used to evade censorship and access services abroad – were recently shut down after authorities said they were unauthorized to run.

China appears to be clamping down on potential sources of politically sensitive news as it prepares for a major leadership reshuffle in Beijing. The event happens every five years and often leads to a tightening of online controls to project an air of stability in the country. The death of jailed Nobel peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo last week also spurred censors into action, with commemorations on WeChat reportedly blocked by authorities.

(Via The New York Times.)

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tags: China, WhatsApp

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Latest WhatsApp Update Brings Pinned Chat and Multi-Format File Sharing Features

The latest update to WhatsApp Messenger rolled out on iOS on Sunday and adds a couple of notable new features, one of which is the ability to share files of any type within conversations.

Version 2.17.40 of WhatsApp is the first to allow any file type to be sent using the Document option in the Share menu. Previously files were limited to PDF documents, but now the only limitation is file size, which is officially 100MB.

It's also now possible to pin chats to the top of the chat list to quickly find important conversation threads. To pin a chat, swipe right on the chat and tap the pin icon. Additionally, users can now tap and hold on groups of multiple photos they've received to quickly forward or delete them.

Version 2.17.40 also includes a couple of new hidden features that still appear to be in testing, suggesting they'll soon become public in a forthcoming update. According to WABetaInfo, they include in-line YouTube video playback with Picture-in-Picture support and an emoji search function.

Finally, a new Recall feature is expected to be enabled in 2.17.40+ that allows users to delete texts, images, videos, GIFs, documents, quoted messages, and even Status replies after they have been sent, as long as the Recall feature is used within a five-minute window.

WhatsApp is a free download for iPhone from the App Store. [Direct Link]

Tag: WhatsApp

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WhatsApp Gains Photo Filters and Automatic Albums, ‘Recall’ Feature Reportedly Imminent

WhatsApp gained a handful of new features this week, including photo filters, quick replies, and automatic albums in chat threads.

The photo filters in WhatsApp 2.17.30 are similar to those found in Snapchat and Instagram: users can now add one of five filters to photos, videos, and GIFs before sending, enabling them to enhance the look or correct poor lighting. Pop, black and white, cool, chrome, and film filters can be selected with a simple swipe up on the image.

Image via TechCrunch

In addition, WhatsApp now automatically generates album views when multiple images or videos are sent consecutively in the same chat window, thereby avoiding the usual stream of individual images that clog up a thread.

Elsewhere, users can reply to a specific message in a thread by swiping across it, which takes it to the bottom of the chat window where they can type a response. WhatsApp says the feature is particularly useful during fast-moving group chats when a particular message can get quickly lost higher up the thread.

Finally, WhatsApp is said to be readying a much-requested hidden "unsend" feature in another imminent update to the app.

According to fan site WABetaInfo, Whatsapp will enable "Recall" in version 2.17.30+, allowing users to delete texts, images, videos, GIFs, documents, quoted messages, and even Status replies after they have been sent, as long as the Recall feature is used within a five-minute window.

WhatsApp is a free download for iPhone from the App Store. [Direct Link]

Tag: WhatsApp

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Facebook Fined $122 Million for Misleading EU Regulators Over WhatsApp Deal

The European Commission has fined Facebook $122 million for misleading regulators over its 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp. The announcement came on Thursday in a press release in which the Commission said that the social media company had provided "incorrect or misleading information" when it told regulators that it would be unable to link the profiles of users on WhatsApp and Facebook.

However, WhatsApp announced in 2016 that it would start sharing some user data, including phone numbers, with Facebook, contradicting the earlier claim. In its press release, the Commission said that Facebook knew the data crossover was technically feasible in 2014 when it bought WhatsApp for $22 billion, but that it had stated otherwise when asked by merger regulators.

"When Facebook notified the acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014, it informed the Commission that it would be unable to establish reliable automated matching between Facebook users' accounts and WhatsApp users' accounts. It stated this both in the notification form and in a reply to a request of information from the Commission. However, in August 2016, WhatsApp announced updates to its terms of service and privacy policy, including the possibility of linking WhatsApp users' phone numbers with Facebook users' identities.

The Commission has found that, contrary to Facebook's statements in the 2014 merger review process, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook and WhatsApp users' identities already existed in 2014, and that Facebook staff were aware of such a possibility."
The ruling by the Commission will not have any impact on its decision to rubber stamp the acquisition, and remains separate from data protection investigations that are currently ongoing, the EC explained in the press release. The separate investigations involve historical data collection of WhatsApp users in Germany, the U.K., and Italy. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said:
"Today's decision sends a clear signal to companies that they must comply with all aspects of EU merger rules, including the obligation to provide correct information. And it imposes a proportionate and deterrent fine on Facebook. The Commission must be able to take decisions about mergers' effects on competition in full knowledge of accurate facts."
Facebook responded to the decision in a statement published on its website on Thursday. The company said it had "acted in good faith" during its communications with the EC, and claimed that it had attempted to provide "accurate information at every turn".

"The errors we made in our 2014 filings were not intentional and the Commission has confirmed that they did not impact the outcome of the merger review," the statement reads. "Today's announcement brings this matter to a close."


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WhatsApp Quietly Extends Encryption to iCloud Backups of Chat Logs

WhatsApp has bolstered the security of the iCloud backup feature in its messaging platform, in an attempt to protect archived chat logs from being accessed in a readable form (via TechCrunch).

WhatsApp has offered end-to-end encryption on its messaging service for some time, but that encryption did not previously extend to iCloud backups of messages. Given that Apple holds the encryption keys for iCloud, a subpoena of Apple or an unauthorized iCloud hack could potentially allow access to WhatsApp messages backed up there.


However, WhatsApp has moved to prevent that possibility by also pre-encrypting the backup files. "When a user backs up their chats through WhatsApp to iCloud, the backup files are sent encrypted," a WhatsApp spokesperson told Forbes, confirming the change.

WhatsApp quietly added the encryption to WhatsApp iCloud backups late last year, however the change only came to light last week when professional hackers claimed to be able to circumvent the security measure.

According to Russian-based Oxygen Forensics, third-party hacking tools are able to download the encrypted WhatsApp data backed up to iCloud and then generate an encryption key to decrypt the data using the associated SIM card. The tools could potentially be used by police with access to a phone where the WhatsApp account has been deactivated but the encrypted messages are still stored in iCloud. WhatsApp has yet to comment on the claims.

The encryption debate has been reignited in recent weeks on both sides of the Atlantic. FBI director James Comey revealed earlier this month that his agency had been unable to access the data on more than 3,000 mobile devices in the first half of the fiscal year, despite having legal authority to avail themselves of the contents.

A recent statement by U.S. senator Dianne Feinstein also appeared to confirm that the government had used $900,000 of public money to pay for the third-party tools to unlock the iPhone used by the San Bernardino terrorist. No information of relevance was found on the device, the FBI later revealed.

Meanwhile in the U.K., government home secretary Amber Rudd recently claimed that it is "completely unacceptable" that authorities cannot gain access to messages stored on mobile applications protected by end-to-end encryption, such as WhatsApp. Rudd said she would be discussing the situation with technology companies in the near future.

Since that time, a draft technical paper prepared by the U.K. government has been leaked that contains proposals related to the removal of encryption from private communications. The paper reveals that companies would be required to provide the raw data "in an intelligible form" without "electronic protection" within one working day. Discussions about the feasibility of the proposals are said to be ongoing.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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