WhatsApp Channels, a feature that will let users broadcast information to several users on the app, is reportedly in development. The company, which recently announced the rollout of a feature allowing users to “keep” disappearing messages, could soon introduce read-only channels that will allow users to post updates that other users can subscribe to. Unlike regular chats on WhatsApp, these channels might not be protected by end-to-end encryption, while users’ membership of channels is expected to remain private, according to a report.
Information gleaned by WhatsApp feature tracker WABetaInfo from the latest beta version of WhatsApp for iOS (Testflight version 23.8.0) shows that the Meta-owned messaging service plans to update the Status tab with a new Channels section. This section will allow users to discover new channels via a Find Channels button. WhatsApp Channels will not show participants’ personal information such as their names or phone numbers, according to the feature tracker.
It is worth noting that WhatsApp rival Telegram already offers a similar channel feature that allows users to subscribe to these broadcast-only groups allowing information or updates to be disseminated to subscribers. Users receive notifications for new messages posted in channels, which function like read-only groups.
WABetaInfo claims that users will have to manually subscribe to these channels on WhatsApp using the channel name or its handle, and there will be no algorithmic recommendations or social graph that suggests new channels for users.
Unlike many other features that can currently be tested by users on the beta channel of WhatsApp for iOS or Android, channels are still in in development, according to the feature tracker. This suggests that users will have to wait for a while before they can create new channels or subscribe to them.
WhatsApp channels are expected to arrive on upcoming beta versions of the app before making their way to all users on the stable release channel. There’s no word on whether this feature will also be available on the desktop app for WhatsApp on Windows or Mac computers.
Last week, WhatsApp announced the rollout of a ‘Keep in Chat’ feature that allows users to save messages in disappearing messages chats. However, as a privacy safeguard, the sender of a message will be notified when a user saves a specific chat, and they can choose to prevent any user from “keeping” a message.