WhatsApp is a popular third-party messaging service with quite a few useful features which make it a great alternative to traditional SMS and messaging apps. Recently, the Facebook-owned app introduced end-to-end encryption as an added security measure to keep users' conversations private. Now, it looks as though developers may be working on a passcode feature that will allow users to protect their conversations even from those within physical proximity of their devices.
According to a report out of Android Authority, the information comes from a program that is used to translate text from English to Dutch, and some notable phrases were recognized which suggest the likely passcode functionality. For example, "Enter the current six-digit passcode", "Passcodes don't match. Try again", and "Enter a recovery email address", the latter of which suggests that if the user forgets their passcode, they will be able to regain access to their account via an emailed passcode reset. Entering a recovery email may not be a requirement however, as there is a section of the translation that suggests that enabling the email recovery feature is optional. As far as the passcode feature itself, there is no information yet as to whether using it will be a requirement of the app. Although it would make sense for developers to make it optional to provide users with a choice which lets them prioritize either security or convenience, depending on which they personally find more important. It is also not yet known whether other types of authentication will be added later, such as a pattern or fingerprint unlocking method.
While similar functionality is already available through third-party locking apps, such as Super AppLock, this security measure will be integrated directly into the messaging app itself, eliminating the need for additional software, and may offer more flexibility, such as the ability to lock individual conversations without locking the entire app. This feature is just a rumor at this point and has not been officially confirmed, so there is no word in when (or if) this update will make its way to devices. If you aren't familiar with WhatsApp and would like to check it out, you can install it using the Google Play Store link below.