If you’ve ever wanted to send a message that you want to be readable only for a certain period of time, the disappearing or ephemeral message features of messaging apps is truly useful. Several apps like Telegram and Viber already have this and now it looks like Facebook’s WhatsApp is testing out “disappearing messages” for selected beta users. It’s still in the early development stage though so it’s still subject to change based probably on the response of the testers.
The idea behind disappearing messages is added security for those who need to send sensitive information or documents through the messaging app. How WhatsApp is implementing this feature seems pretty basic compared to its competitors. According to WABetaInfo, WhatsApp submitted the new update to the Google Play Beta Program but also notes that not everyone may be getting it as they’re still testing and developing the feature.
You can set how long it will take for the message to disappear but the only two options available are 5 seconds or one hour, which is quite a big gap. Hopefully later on they add some times in between the two. The feature also seems to be available only in group chats based on the screenshots but that is probably something they will remedy later on as well. When a message disappears, there is no “trail” in the chat that shows a message has been deleted.
WABetaInfo said they currently have no information as to when the feature will be released in a wider beta or if it will be at all or go straight to a wider update. They did say that WhatsApp is “actively working on the feature” so that when it is released, it will be better and should work perfectly, although you can probably expect early bugs or something during its initial rollout.
We’ll just have to wait for more information from reliable sources later on or maybe even an official announcement from WhatsApp itself. In the meantime, you’ll just have to find some workaround or not send sensitive messages at all.