WhatsApp gets lots of tweaking to make it safer and easier to use by following the changes discovered in the beta version of the messaging app by WABetaInfo.
The first change is a rather minor one that simply allows you to add contacts to your WhatsApp list by scanning a QR code, possibly avoiding the pain of contacts not being pulled properly from the phone’s contact list. The second update is more significant as it adds end-to-end encryption to WhatsApp chat backups in Apple’s iCloud.
The QR code feature generates a code for a WhatsApp user, which can then be scanned using another user’s smartphone camera by tapping a ‘scan code’ in the main app. It’s a small thing, but adding contacts to WhatsApp can be easier.
WhatsApp currently uses end-to-end encryption by default in its messages, so you’ll be forgiven for thinking that all actions taken by the Facebook-owned messaging service have the same level of security. But they don’t.
Automatically backing up chat to a supported cloud storage service of your choice is an excellent feature as it allows you to easily switch phones while retaining your WhatsApp chats. But when this data is sent from WhatsApp to Apple’s iCloud services baked into modern iPhones, the backup doesn’t get end-to-end encryption.
Theoretically, if someone was able to intercept the data flowing from WhatsApp on your iPhone to iCloud, they would not have to deal with the same security as they would if they tried to hack directly into WhatsApp chats . As such, every time your WhatsApp chats automatically update on your iPhone, your chats could be subjected to so-called “man-in-the-middle” cyber attacks.
However, with the beta update, end-to-end encryption is applied to iCloud chat backups, making it very difficult to intercept and decrypt the data flowing between the WhatsApp app and iCloud servers. All you have to do now is wait for WhatsApp to automatically roll the update when it’s ready for a full public release; we don’t know exactly when it will be, but WhatsApp usually ejects updates pretty quickly as they enter beta time.