WhatsApp has reportedly been working on a functionality that will certainly excite its users. The popular messaging app is launching an update, version 126.96.36.199, via the Google Play Beta Program that will replace phone numbers with WhatsApp usernames for conversations.
How do WhatsApp Usernames Work?
According to reports, the new feature replaces phone numbers with usernames, or “push names,” in the chat list whenever an anonymous contact sends a message in a group chat. If implemented correctly, this significant change can make it easier for users to identify unknown contacts without having to save their phone numbers first. However, as of yet, the number of group members may have been removed from the chat list but is still visible within the chat bubble.
This feature has been released to some iOS beta testers who have installed the WhatsApp beta for iOS 188.8.131.52 update. Currently, there is no further information about when this feature will be ready, but many have wondered about its potential advantages and disadvantages.
4 Advantages of WhatsApp Usernames in Place of Numbers
WhatsApp can potentially expand its user base to others who do not have a contact number or who prefer not to share it online. Here are three ways WhatsApp users can benefit from the new update whenever it’s available.
WhatsApp usernames can enhance privacy and security by completely disconnecting from phone numbers. Currently, users are forced to share personal contact details with others if they want to use WhatsApp. It can be a concern for those who value their privacy. For them, usernames can provide a layer of anonymity, allowing them to engage on the app without revealing their personal contact information.
WhatsApp usernames can make it easier to find and connect with people. As mentioned above, WhatsApp requires users to save the number of different contacts before connecting with them. For most, it’s time-consuming and confusing. By having usernames, users can have a better experience in group conversations too. Many may not be familiar with the phone numbers of everyone in the group, so usernames can make it easier to identify and address others in group chats effectively.
By removing the need for contact numbers, users will no longer need to keep their phones with them at all times to access WhatsApp. They can use any device in front of them to log in and access the app with their WhatsApp usernames. Moreover, users can more efficiently recover their accounts whenever they change or replace their devices.
3 Challenges for the New Feature
While there are potential advantages to having usernames instead of phone numbers in WhatsApp, there are also some potential disadvantages that should be considered.
Usernames may make it harder to verify the identity of other users. With phone numbers, users can more easily verify that they are communicating with the right person. However, with usernames, it may be more difficult to ensure that the person on the other end of the conversation is who they claim to be. This makes users vulnerable to revealing sensitive information that otherwise needs to be concealed from strangers.
There is a concern that WhatsApp usernames can increase unwanted messages and spam. Phone numbers are usually considered a more secure and private form of identification because they are tied to personal information and are often protected by two-factor authentication (2FA) or other security measures. Whereas usernames chosen by humans can be vulnerable to theft. Bad actors can often guess or obtain data through social engineering tactics. WhatsApp is likely to step up security measures before releasing the feature for public use.
Most WhatsApp users are accustomed to identifying their contacts with phone numbers. Usernames can be challenging to remember for users who may have to note them down somewhere for future reference. This can probably be a bit of a headache for users who communicate with a large group of contacts on WhatsApp. Similarly, those who are used to phone numbers may need to relearn how to use the app with WhatsApp usernames.