WhatsApp has started public testing of the ‘View Once’ feature on iOS that allows users to send a photo or video that can be viewed only once before it gets deleted. To recall, the feature first appeared on the app’s Android client a couple of weeks ago via the beta channel and works similar to the concept of disappearing message in Snapchat.
However, View Once on WhatsApp is not the same as the Disappearing Messages trick, as the latter is not dependent on the number of views before a photo or video gets deleted. Instead, when users enable the disappearing message feature on WhatsApp, chat records are automatically deleted only after a span of seven days.
View Once for WhatsApp’s iOS client has started appearing following the release of the v188.8.131.52 beta update, as per WABetaInfo. iPhone users who are registered for beta testing as part of the TestFlight program will be able to access the feature after installing the latest version. For those that the feature has not gone live yet, it will likely appear in a phased manner, assuming this is a batch-wise rollout.
A Great Addition, But Missing A Few Tricks
In order to send a disappearing photo or video, users simply need to tap on the attachment button, pick the file, and select the rounded ‘1’ icon on the right of the text field. Once enabled, it is just a matter of then hitting the send button. As soon as the recipient views the photo or video once, it will be deleted without being saved to the local gallery. In case the sender wants to check the status of the sent media, they can do so by checking the ‘Message Info’ section. This can be accessed by long-pressing on a message and tapping the ‘i’ icon at the top. The Message Info window shows three options depending on the message viewing status — Opened, Seen and Delivered. It is worth noting that there is a similar option on Instagram and Messenger apps called Vanish Mode.
View Once on WhatsApp does lack a critical feature – screenshot protection. It appears that WhatsApp hasn’t baked in any form of screenshot detection tool either, one that could alert the sender that the recipient has taken a screenshot of a photo they’ve shared. The same applies to screen-recording tools (both native and third-party) when it comes to videos shared with a single-viewing condition attached. This appears to be a huge miss on WhatsApp’s end, and an omission that many users are unlikely to be happy with. Of course, users should avoid sharing sensitive media with people they don’t trust enough to begin with.
Another trick that WhatsApp’s View Once is missing, is the ability to set a timer for how long after a photo gets automatically deleted once opened by the recipient. This feature is already available on Telegram and has been implemented quite well on the rival platform.