Three huge WhatsApp updates coming to your phone this year revealed

WHATSAPP is forever tinkering with its chat app, rolling out new features to keep things fresh for its 2billion-strong user base.

As the US messaging behemoth tests new tools and settings, it rolls them out to a small group of people as part of "beta" tests.

Some websites, such as WABetaInfo, are members of WhatsApp's fabled beta programme, and promptly share whatever they find.

It means fans can get wind of upcoming WhatsApp features long before they're released to the average user.

We've put together a list of some of the most exciting tools spotted by beta rummagers in recent weeks.

Keep in mind that a feature appearing in beta does not necessarily mean that it'll make it to general release.

However, early versions of the app are generally a good barometer for what users can expect to land on their phones, tablets and PC in the coming months.

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Leaked screenshot of the new two-step verification feature for WhatsApp on desktopCredit: WABetaInfo

1. Better protection from hackers

WhatsApp has come up with a new way to keep hackers out of your chats amid a raft of scams.

A growing number of users have lost their account or been conned by fraudsters using the app, so developers are looking to beef up your defences.

It's a problem that could get worse with new multi-device support in the works.

This will allow people to use the app on their computer desktop or web without needing their phone nearby or even turned on.

With this in mind, WhatsApp's owners Meta want to introduce two-step verification.

It's something we've already seen on mobile for a while, but according to WABetaInfo the feature is coming to desktop and web next.

Two-step verification means that whenever your phone number is used to register for WhatsApp on a new device you'll have to enter a PIN password.

If you buy a new phone, put your existing SIM in, and install WhatsApp, you'll need to provide the PIN to prove it's you.

Likewise, if a fraudster gets hold of your number and tries to do the same it'll protect you.

So making it available to desktop and web next makes sense.

Though the feature is still very much in the testing phase, meaning WhatsApp could decide not to go ahead with it at all.

2. Message reactions

WhatsApp also appears to be lining up a major new feature for users on iPhone.

The US chat app recently rolled out an early version of its iOS app to testers notifications for message reactions.

The upcoming feature is expected to allow users to react to a message using different emojis, such as a smiling or angry face.

It could work similarly to Facebook's reaction buttons, which let you respond to posts and comments with "love," "haha," "wow," "sad" and "angry."

The change was uncovered by WABetaInfo, a tech website with a strong track record of uncovering WhatsApp features before they launch.

It was launched last week in the newest beta (version 22.2.72) of the app – a work-in-progress sent out to testers before launch – on iOS.

According to WABeta info, a new “reactions notifications” option appears under WhatsApp’s notifications settings in version 22.2.72.

Users can either enable or disable these reactions in their notifications.

The notifications will let you know when someone has reacted to one of your messages in group or individual chats.

Users can select which tone to play when they receive those notifications.

3. Easily swap your account between phones

WhatsApp also appears to be working on a new feature that makes it easier to swap phones.

The new tool will let you quickly move your chats from an Android handset to an iPhone.

Until very recently, ditching iPhone for Android or vice versa was a painful process for WhatsApp users.

It almost always meant losing your WhatsApp chat history, which is far from ideal.

Then late last year, WhatsApp added the ability for iPhone owners to migrate their chats to Samsung phones – and then Google Pixel devices soon after.

So rather than having a fresh start on WhatsApp, you could move chats across.

Sadly, it still doesn't work in reverse. If you're switching from Android to iPhone, you lose your chats.

But WhatsApp sleuths at WABetaInfo have discovered a new importing tool.

The feature was spotted in the new WhatsApp beta version 22.2.74 on iOS.

It means you can transfer Android WhatsApp history using the Move to iOS app.

You'll need to keep your phone open and unlocked during the process, according to early photos of the feature.

How to get WhatsApp beta

To download WhatsApp beta for your smartphone you need to go to Google Play on your Android and search for WhatsApp.

Scroll down the page until you see "Become a Beta Tester".

Tap the "I'm In" button and then click "Join" to confirm.

Now all you have to do is wait for the update to the beta version of the app.

Joining the WhatsApp beta on iPhone is more difficult, and has limited capacity.

Follow Apple’s guide here.

In other news, the next iteration of Apple's AirPods could come with a high-tech feature that makes it easier to listen to friends and family.

A four-tonne chunk of a SpaceX rocket is on a collision course with the Moon, according to online space junk trackers.

Boeing has sunk $450million into a flying taxi startup that hopes to whisk passengers across cities by the end of the decade.

And, personalised smart guns, which can be fired only by verified users, may finally become available to U.S. consumers this year.

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