WhatsApp rich previews for URLs and extra 'clear chat' optionsOctober 20, 2015: Version 2.12.323 brings URL previews, although they are limited to a small image and a snippet of text, and currently only visible to the sender. They aslo don't work on image links – just regular URLs – so there's still plenty for WhatsApp to iron out. This feature is currently in the beta version, so we're sure there'll be many more small updates in the next few weeks, downloadable from the WhatsApp webpage or APK Mirror.
The 'clear chat' option in any chat window now has an expanded set of options. Instead of just clearing the entire chat, you can now choose to delete all messages, messages older than 30 days, or messages older than six months.
WhatsApp now allows Google Drive backupsOctober 8, 2015: Version 2.12.306 of WhatsApp includes the ability to back up your WhatsApp chat history, voice messages, photos, and videos to Google Drive. It had been possible to make local backups for a while, but that didn't help if your phone was lost, stolen or broken. Now, you can back up everything up to the cloud, in safely encrypted form, and easily restore it all at any time. This feature is expected to take a few months to roll out to all WhatsApp users, but keep an eye on the updates and you should receive a prompt to set up the Google Drive backup once it's ready.
WhatsApp adds new emojisAugust 25, 2015: WhatsApp version 2.12.250 has introduced some all-new emoji, including the Vulcan greeting for Trekkies – you know the ones – and a slightly less friendly one we'll leave the screenshots to explain.
Another nice addition is skin tones, so you can be more racially sensitive with your bird-flipping or geek greeting.
Mark WhatsApp messages as read/unreadAugust 25, 2015: You also have the option to mark a conversation as read, without even going into it. Simply long press the chat on the main screen and a pop up menu will appear. right down the bottom you'll see the option for 'Mark as Read'. You can do this in reverse too and long press to 'Mark as Unread' so you don't forget to return to a message later.
Use Google Now to send a WhatsApp messageJuly 29, 2015: This isn't strictly an update to the WhatsApp app, but it could affect how you interact with it. You can now use a Google Now voice command to send a WhatsApp message to one of your contacts, just say "Ok Google, send a WhatsApp message to [contact name]." You will then be prompted to dictate the message you want to send.
Alternatively, you can record it all in one statement, such as "Ok, Google, send WhatsApp message to Malcolm, I'm still in love with you," or something else.
If you're new to Google Now voice commands, hit the link to see a list of what else can be achieved with Google's handy personal assistant.
WhatsApp calls low data usageJuly 22, 2015: The low data usage option can be found in the Chats and Calls menu within WhatsApps settings. It affects how much mobile data is consumed during WhatsApp calls. This could be an excellent addition for those who often make calls using mobile data, although we don't yet know to what extent it reduces the data consumed.
Add custom notifications to WhatsApp contactsJuly 22, 2015: Feel free to add custom notifications to your contacts now too. Simply open a contact's profile page and you'll see you've also got a setting for Custom Notifications. Tap it and check the box to activate the options, then choose custom notification sounds, notification colors, popup actions and more.
This means that your phone won’t make a sound or vibrate, but you can still see their notifications, should you choose to.
To download the latest version of WhatsApp, hit the link.
WhatsApp Like buttonJuly 3, 2015: Picked up by WhatsApp beta tester Ilhan Pektas, there is now speculation that WhatsApp is going to introduce a 'Like' button. Mr Pektas sent a tweet which translates as: "Like Button for divided images in WhatsApp: o #cool".
We don't know much more about it at this point, and there's nothing to necessarily say it will become a full feature. But as the 'Like' button is already a facet of Facebook, and given the tradition of Facebook implementing existing features into the WhatsApp interface (such as Messenger's 'read message' ticks), it's possible that this feature will appear.
WhatsApp global searchJune 24, 2015: In some of the latest versions of WhatsApp given out the beta testers group, global search made it debut. Usually when you tap the search icon you can only search for the names of your WhatsApp contacts. This latest version extends that search to all words in all conversations. This means finding that particular chat a breeze.
However, like the Google Drive chat backup option, this feature has since been removed, but at least we know that WhatsApp is interested in testing it. Let us know in the comments what you think of this feature and if you'd like to see it introduced permanently.
We've contacted WhatsApp for clarification on these elusive (but very useful) beta features and will update this article with any information we receive.
WhatsApp design improvementsMay 15, 2015: WhatsApp version 2.12.87 introduced a number of design improvements to its interface. Most notable of these is the lighter conversation wallpaper, material design icons, and an improved call interface in employing WhatsApp's 'teal' color scheme.
Another minor additions which you may or may not notice are the in the more subtle search menu, with 'search...' now faintly written instead of the spyglass icon. Download the latest version via APK mirror, and check out how the call window now looks below.
In India, meanwhile, the country's third-largest private sector bank launched 'Ping Pay', a service which will allow its customers to transfer money using WhatsApp. Customers will be able to send money even to non-Axis bank accounts using Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), with a Rs. 50,000 daily limit. Its success could pave the way for other countries to start using WhatsApp as a payment service.
Block unknown numbers in WhatsAppApril 22, 2015: We're not entirely sure when this change happened, but newer versions of WhatsApp (but not the version available in the Play Store - you'll need at least v2.12.30 for this feature) let you mark an unknown number as spam when you block it. If you receive a message from a number you don't have in your contacts list, you will see an option to report that number as spam when you block it. Here's the screenshots of the feature in action. You can still block a number (without reporting it as spam) in the overflow menu on the top right of the conversation.
Google Drive backup in WhatsAppOption now removed: Version 2.12.45 of the WhatsApp APK introduced a feature whereby you can backup all of your messages, contacts, and settings to Google Drive. You can access the new features by going to Settings > Chat settings > Chat Backup. Here you can choose how regularly you want backups to occur, as well as whether you want backups to happen over a mobile data connection as well as Wi-Fi.
Backups to Google Drive are scheduled for 4am, though you can manually choose to 'Back up now' at any time. Interestingly though, the feature has been removed from subsequent versions of WhatsApp, including four versions released over a 24-hour period on April 21-22. We've contacted WhatsApp for clarification on the feature's removal, and will update this article as soon as we know more.
You can download the WhatsApp 2.12.45 APK at APK Mirror along with newer versions (that don't have Google Drive backup enabled). You can also pick up the WhatsApp APK on the official WhatsApp download page. Just make sure you have the exact version number you're after, as WhatsApp only hosts one APK at a time.
Admittedly, there's nothing too revolutionary in the overhaul. The thing about Material Design is that we know what we're going to get. The update brings round profile icons and the three tabs at the top has become joined with the WhatsApp banner up top (which, incidentally, has lost its logo). The icons for searching, calling and the overflow menu are slightly remodeled and the green color is even a little more lively.
Right now the Play Store doesn't have the latest version with the Material Design changes on board. For the latest version you'll have to enable Unknown Sources in your Security settings (don't forget to disable unknown Sources once you're done) and then head to the WhatsApp website to download the latest and greatest APK.
31 March, 2015: As long as you have WhatsApp version 2.12.19 or above, which is the first version that does not require an invitation call (which admittedly didn't work for everyone anyway), you'll be able to use the WhatsApp calling feature. You will need to enable 'Unknown Sources' in your device's security settings first so you can install it.
We've found the call quality to be a little patchy but some are claiming it's better and more stable than Skype. We'll assume the concrete bunkers we all live in are causing the problem, and not WhatsApp's efforts. Once enabled, you'll see a three-tab layout with a calling option next to your contacts.
If you're having any trouble getting the service to work, you can try some alternative methods in our guide on how to manually enable WhatsApp voice calling. If you want to know how to silence incoming WhatsApp calls now that you've got yet another calling channel to worry about, here's a quick guide for that too.