There’s nothing quite like waking up to some screenshots of the new beta version of WhatsApp, the popular mulit-platform messaging client. We’ve already detailed some of the changes coming for the future Windows Phone 8 branch, an update that looks to be quite massive. But for those on 7.8, we’re told that version is getting updated as well.

Though the 7.8 branch of WhatsApp evidently won’t ditch the background audio API for connections (more on that below), it does bring some other new features and at least shows that the WhatsApp and Nokia teams aren’t forgetting 7.x users with the planned update.

WhatsApp Beta Windows Phone 7.8

Although the audio API (aka “music streaming”) feature will remain, it has been optimized and re-written making it “much faster” this time around. As to why it is still there, the WhatsApp team feels that it’s a good solution for an uploading problem. Basically if you attach a video (or large photo) and minimize the app, that media will continue to upload in the background because of that audio API usage.

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By not using this, a lot of users complained that they would either have to leave the app open and wait for the upload to complete or were confused when they minimized the app and it didn’t upload their media.

Windows Phone 8 presumably can handle background tasks a bit better which is why we’re expecting that version to ditch the audio API. By branching the two builds, WhatsApp can get the best of both worlds for their users--that's our guess, at least.

WhatsApp Beta Windows Phone 7.8

Other features in this build include:

  • new chat smiley support
  • link to voice call
  • square notifications
  • fast resume
  • double wide tile
  • larger inline image support

No word on an ETA for the update, but it looks like the WhatsApp team is nearing completion and it shouldn’t be too much longer (we’re guessing the first week of June, give or take, is a good estimate).

Thanks to our source for the info and screenshots!