WhatsApp update: Fingerprint unlock feature is coming to Android

Finger Print Source: Google Images

WhatsApp is launching a beta feature which will allow users to unlock the app with their fingerprint.

With the news that Facebook will be rebranding, it’s acquired applications to make sure that the world knows that Mark Zuckerberg’s social media behemoth owns them.

Thankfully it seems it’s still business as usual amongst the hard-working dev team at WhatsApp.

WABetaInfo, one of the go-to sites for upcoming WhatsApp features, is reporting that there’s a new security feature on the horizon for the world’s favourite messaging application (outside of China).

Keep your WhatsApp messages safe

WhatsApp for Android Beta v2.19.221 currently lets users experiment with the fingerprint unlock for the application. Spies and philanderers alike rejoice with the news that you will finally be able to keep your instant messages safe from prying eyes.

To be clear from what’s been reported thus far, the screen lock won’t affect the way the application runs in the background. You’ll still be able to see message notifications and will even be able to reply to them.

However, once enabled, the fingerprint security will require you to produce your fingerprint whenever you attempt to open the application.

Once you enable fingerprint unlocking, you’ll be able to change the unlock interval. It will automatically block content if you have the widget on your home screen.

If you’re simultaneously worried about security and putting your messaging app widget on your home screen though, then you probably aren’t really that worried by security.

Requirements for using the Fingerprint unlock feature

To use the feature, users will need to be running Android Marshmallow or later and a fingerprint sensor of course. In the WhatsApp beta at least the option is under Settings > Account > Privacy > Fingerprint Lock.

From what we’ve seen so far it appears that WhatsApp will be making use of the built-in Android fingerprint APIs. This is very important if it’s true; it means that the fingerprint reading and authentication will be handled by Android on your device.

Security concerns

If that is not the case and WhatsApp wants to keep a copy of your fingerprints, then there may be some alarm bells.

I am not over the moon that I gave my fingerprints to my Android Device under the protection of Google; but I like unlocking my phone quickly, and Google did promise that one time not to be evil.

I’d prefer not to give my fingerprints to Facebook either, though; before one of them figure out a way to monetize that too.