WhatsApp is taking a more proactive approach to filtering out spam as it may soon begin automatically silencing calls from unknown numbers.
The feature is fittingly called Silence Unknown Callers, according to WABetaInfo (opens in new tab), giving users the choice of whether or not they want phone calls from people outside of their contacts. It’ll find its home in the settings menu where it can be toggled on or off at any time. Once activated, WhatsApp will no longer alert users to calls from random numbers, but the Caller ID can still be found in both the calls list and notifications center if you really want to know who it was.
As WABetaInfo points out, Silence Unknown Callers could also be addressing a flaw in WhatsApp’s Communities feature. The problem is anyone in a group can get other people’s numbers pretty easily either by contacting the Community creator or an admin to then start spam calling everyone. On the flip side, the full list of participants in a Community and their numbers are visible to the creator so even they can take advantage of the situation. Reporting and blocking certainly work, however, there’s nothing in the way to stop the first wave of spam; at least for now.
You can try out Silence Unknown Callers yourself by downloading the latest WhatsApp beta for Android which you can do by joining the Google Play Store beta program (opens in new tab). It’s unknown at this time whether or not the feature will make its way to iOS nor do we know its official launch date.
In the works
Alongside Silence Unknown Callers, WhatsApp is currently testing (opens in new tab) a variety of other new features for Android. The big one is a new split view on tablets allowing the chat list to appear when opening a chat, status tabs, or making a call. It looks similar to the browser version of WhatsApp. Additionally, the beta will allow users to try out the redesigned Status tab now supporting Newsletters, the platform’s other big upcoming feature.
There are a few changes for WhatsApp for iPhones, but they’re a lot less impactful. Arguably the biggest change in the iOS beta is the redesigned chat attachment menu which is already present on the Android app. And a new sticker maker tool (opens in new tab) that turns images into stickers. Not much for iOS owners right now, but at least you recently got an exclusive picture-in-picture mode for video calls.
Be sure to check out TechRadar’s recently updated list of the best antivirus apps for Android if you want to know how you can boost security.