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How To Access Hidden WhatsApp Security Features

January 22, 2016 - Written By Daniel Fuller

Popular communication app WhatsApp allows users to download beta versions of the app with features that are still in testing. Reddit user javiersantos took the beta plunge and managed to find a secret. It would seem that there are a couple of features hidden in the app’s latest beta, version 2.12.413. In order to reach them, you’ll have to have a rooted device and use a terminal app. These two features seem to be ready for prime time, indicating they could show up in official versions in the near future.

The first big new feature is a security indicator that shows that your conversation is completely encrypted. End to end encryption has been present in WhatsApp for a while now, but has never made itself completely clear to users. If you happen to have the beta, are rooted and want to check it out, open up a terminal and grant yourself superuser access using the su command. From there, type the following: am start -n com.whatsapp/com.whatsapp.SettingsSecurity

Hit enter and you should be at a screen like the first one shown below. There will be a brief explanation on the screen about WhatsApp being encrypted and what the option does; that is, it shows a visual indicator for when your conversation is encrypted. Basically, this means that if you enable the option and the indicator doesn’t show, something has gone horribly wrong. Mind you, the feature is still in beta, so if you activate it and get no indicator, that could simply mean the feature is being buggy, as things in beta tend to do.

The other feature that popped up in the newest beta seems to be an option to allow WhatsApp to share account information with Facebook. As many of you know, WhatsApp is already fully integrated with Facebook. This option, which apparently cannot be reversed, allows you to permanently sever that integration. If you’d like to take the plunge, get yourself some superuser privileges, then type this: am start -n com.whatsapp/com.whatsapp.TosUpdateDetailsActivity

Screenshot 2 and onward are applicable here. As an added bonus, a document picker function was apparently found by Reddit user arkydon, but can’t do much right now. arkydon did not include any screenshots. To give that a spin, type this: am start -n com.whatsapp/com.whatsapp.DocumentPickerActivity

So far, there’s been no official comment on these new features or a timeline for official rollout. As with anything present in a beta, especially anything that’s hidden, use them with the utmost care if you decide to try them.