Although the public version of WhatsApp has not received a new update since early January, the WhatsApp team is churning out new beta features, ensuring a massive update is on the horizon.

Today, version 380 of the private beta landed and it brings with it, once again, some fantastic new features. A member of the beta program has given us the following screenshots, though we’ve been able to independently confirm their authenticity.

Privacy control

One of the big new additions is something that is new to Android and iOS too, namely privacy control. Remember how you can always see when the last time someone was online with WhatsApp? Pretty soon, users will be able to control that via the privacy settings. From there, you will be able to control:

  • Last seen – Everyone, My Contacts or Nobody
  • Profile Photo – Everyone, My Contacts or Nobody
  • Status – Everyone, My Contacts or Nobody

Admittedly, that’s a very useful feature. What’s neat though, as mentioned above, as that’s a relatively new feature to iOS and Android too, meaning that Windows Phone is finally nearing parity with those platforms. In fact, by the time this release comes out, they may well very be matched.

Interestingly, it’s not a one way street though. If you disable your status, the app – as of now – also hides your contact’s status as well. So while you can protect your activity, you won’t be able to see someone else’s either. We’re guessing that because WhatsApp just enabled this, users will have to opt-in to have their status shown, with the default being ‘nobody’.

New background gallery

Background images were revealed the last time by us from the previous beta release. In today’s version, the WhatsApp team has added a ‘background gallery’ replete with six well designed wallpapers.  That’s in addition to

  • Take a photo
  • Choose from Albums
  • Search Web
  • Delete

Background images do bring a little bit of life to the otherwise minimalist app, though users can still opt for the default black background should they choose.

Other forthcoming features already completed in the beta include Media Autodownload and Custom notification sounds.

No word on when the beta features will go to the public version, though we’ll of course keep you posted.

Thanks, Nik N., for the tip

Note: WhatsApp beta is a private beta, so we are not sharing the link as it would not work for any non-listed members. There currently is no public way to sign up for the beta, so please don't ask.