Over the weekend, we started receiving a truckload of tips regarding the WhatsApp beta being “opened to the public”. For those who don’t know, WhatsApp maintains two branches, one being the public release the other one for beta development. The second branch is closed and “invite only” (yes, we’re a part of it) while the other one is for general release.
We obviously didn’t write anything on the story because frankly, it didn’t seem right. Why would WhatsApp suddenly open a beta that had been private for a very long time? Publicizing it as an "open beta" when it in fact was not, would do nothing but contribute to misinformation. So we held off.
We reached out to the WhatsApp team, who are a bit slow to respond, but today we’ve noticed two developments:
- The “open beta” version has now been unpublished
- There is a new beta Store link and yes, it is now private. The app is version number 2.11.288.0
What does private mean? It’s like a nightclub, you have to be on the list and by on the list, we mean your Microsoft ID has to be added to the beta. That means even if we were to give you the beta link, you couldn’t download if you were not invited.
In the end, this appears to be what we thought: an error. Someone accidentally published WhatsApp as an open beta and now the WhatsApp team has killed it and started a new, once again private, branch. Betas often need to be private so you can have a controlled group with dedicated feedback, as opposed to open chaos. That's just the way betas usually work.
The good news is the WhatsApp app for Windows Phone is still being actively developed and you can expect regular updates to the public version. The bad news is no, there doesn’t look like there will be an open ‘beta’ akin to the Facebook beta app.