Initially, we thought that WhatsApp will be bringing ephemeral messages to the app when it was spotted that they have something called Disappearing Messages in an earlier version of the app. But now it looks like the Facebook-owned app has not only changed the name of the upcoming feature to Delete Messages but they have also decided on a different purpose for it rather than just a way to erase messages you don’t want people to see later on.
According to WABetaInfo, they have discovered that in the beta version 2.19.348 of the WhatsApp Android app, the formerly named Disappearing Messages is now called Delete Messages. It’s still not available for everyone of course but the beta shows how it will initially work. The earlier version showed that it will work with both individual chats and group chats but it seems that this new version will now be only for the latter and that’s because its main function has changed.
Ephemeral messages or disappearing messages are for those who want to be able to eventually have such messages deleted for one reason or another. But for WhatsApp’s Delete message feature, this is more for those who want to save up some space and clean up their group chats. WhatsApp is notorious for taking up a lot of space on your device and if you have a lot of group chats, then that means there’s a lot of clutter just within the app.
So basically, the upcoming feature is just a cleaning tool that group admins can use for the group chats they manage. You have several options for how long new messages will last: 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, or 1 year. You can also just choose to turn off the feature if you think it’s okay to keep all the messages. If you want to be able to delete messages in an individual chat, then you’ll probably have to create a group with the contact.
We don’t know yet when WhatsApp will be rolling out this new feature for the stable version. We’re still waiting for when the Dark Theme will be available so that may take some time.