WhatsApp started testing status updates with colored backgrounds on its beta channel, with some users running the experimental 2.17.291 build of the app reporting that they have received the new feature at some point in the last 24 hours. The change is reportedly evident in the same version of WhatsApp that debuts app shortcuts, with the newly discovered functionality being relatively similar to the feature that WhatsApp's parent Facebook already introduced in late 2016.
Users who have access to new status updates can try using them by tapping the pencil icon located in the bottom-right corner of the app's status interface. Much like the Facebook feature, the status tool added to WhatsApp allows you to change the font and background color of your status, as well as add emoji to it. When initially introducing statuses with colored backgrounds, Facebook said that the feature was meant to provide users with a way to more easily capture the attention of their friends as its internal data showed that people are posting fewer Facebook statuses on average than they did in previous years, possibly because the engagement generated by status updates also declined. The same reasoning could be applied to WhatsApp or this might just be another case of Facebook trying to standardize its service portfolio by offering identical features across its range of apps.
Those interested in trying out the new feature may be able to do so by joining WhatsApp's beta channel and then downloading the 2.17.291 build of the popular instant messaging (IM) app from the Google Play Store. The functionality itself still isn't available to all users running the latest beta version of the app, indicating that the Facebook-owned company is running a rather limited test of the functionality that it's rolling out to users with a combination of a client-side update and a server-side switch. It's currently unclear how many WhatsApp beta testers have access to status updates with color backgrounds. Likewise, it remains to be seen how long will the company take to optimize the feature and roll it out to the stable version of its app, provided that ever happens; with the new status updates being introduced as part of an experimental update, there are no guarantees that WhatsApp doesn't end up scrapping them for any reason.