The WhatsApp beta now has app shortcuts, though realistically they were added around Thursday of last week. Now though, it seems WhatsApp has sent out another update for the beta version of the app that has changed the shortcuts up a bit, removing the previously available New Chat shortcut, and Icon Options shortcut. What now seems to be left are shortcuts for the Camera, which was there before, and just a few different chats which could be the chats that you interact with the most. That said the number of chats that are listed when you long press the home screen icon to bring up the shortcuts could be less if you only interact with one or two chats to begin with.
If you'ready using the WhatsApp beta version then you may have already received the update that includes these changes, and if not you can still sideload the APK by hitting the button below if you'd prefer not to wait for the update to show up on its own. Other than the shortcuts it doesn't look like there is much else that's different with this version of the beta app, so all in all it seems to be much more of a small update, which could mean that a bigger update is in the works to add more features down the road.
That being said, the WhatsApp beta did recently send out a new update back towards the end of July which added in the picture-in-picture mode for Android O users when engaging with a video call with another contact. Sine that update was just pushed out around July 20th chances are it hasn't made its way to the stable version of WhatsApp yet, so by grabbing this latest beta version you'll have the picture-in-picture feature in addition to app shortcuts, though do keep in mind that the shortcuts only require Nougat, while the PIP feature will need to be used with the Android O dev preview. In an even earlier update which happened back in the beginning of May, the WhatsApp beta added the ability to pin chats so they would stick to the top of the chats list, making them easier to find.