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WhatsApp’s new beta feature makes me feel like I’m in Mission Impossible

According to WABetaInfo, the latest beta version of WhatsApp is trialling a feature called “Delete Messages”—called “Disappearing Messages” in a previous update. Basically, the new feature allows users to set their messages to self-destruct after a certain period of time has passed, and I can’t help but feel like it’s a feature very much inspired by Mission Impossible.

To jog your memory, the movies usually depict Tom Cruise as receiving instructions on his next mission, with the highly-confidential nature of the message meaning that the medium of exchange (usually a public telephone, for some reason) explodes a few seconds after it’s finished playing.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem likely that there will be an explosion animation for WhatsApp’s version of this, although it could certainly have its uses for users. The feature is available on the WhatsApp beta for Android 2.19.282 version, which users who have enrolled themselves in the Google Play beta programme can access, or you can manually download the APK via 3rd party sources online.

Here’s how it works:

The feature can be toggled in Contact Info or Group Settings (only for the Group Administrator), and there are time period options of 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, or 1 year. It appears that the feature will affect all messages sent in a single conversation or group chat, and the feature is also compatible with Dark Mode on WhatsApp as well.

What’s interesting is that users have reported that the feature has a distinction from the “Delete for Everyone” feature that is already widely available on WhatsApp. Instead of “This message was deleted”, the new feature won’t leave a trace when the time period is up, and the message disappears.

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At the moment, the feature isn’t available on the official version of WhatsApp, but based on the fact that it has been trialled in two different beta versions of WhatsApp already, it seems likely that we’ll see the update at some point in the future.