Everyday, I receive a lot of messages on Twitter where I read what many WhatsApp users wish for a long time.
The most wanted features are Dark Mode, polls in groups, ability to quickly share a photo as file (to quickly send uncompressed photos), Call privacy options and an Apple Watch native app, but the main feature is surely about protecting own chats using Touch ID.
Thanks to iOS 8, developers can use new APIs in order to introduce a protection in their apps. Since that version (4 years?!), all WhatsApp users are asking on the web to implement this feature in the application.
Outlook for iOS has Touch ID authentication to open, I like that feature. WhatsApp should also think about
— Drew (@drizzie) December 8, 2017
@whatsapp Is there any roadmap plans on introducing Touch ID authentication to open WhatsApp on iOS?
— Alasdair Allan (@aallan) December 1, 2017
Need Touch id for this application try to get it. It’s very useful for private chats @WhatsApp
— vignesh u (@vigneshu4) November 6, 2017
.. and many other tweets, read all here.
Many famous applications support today Touch ID, for example Telegram, 1Password and Paypal, and we don’t know why WhatsApp is not going to implement this feature.
However, I thought to create a concept about how WhatsApp should implement this feature in the iOS app.
HOW TO PROTECT CHATS
When a chat is protected, it is possible to open it only if the user verifies his identity using Touch ID. If the verification fails, the user has to always insert a passcode (configured in WhatsApp Settings) in order to enter in the protected chat. Touch ID functionalities will be restored once the user locks the iPhone and insert the passcode in the lockscreen (iOS requires the passcode to continue using Touch ID).
Once the user verifies his identity in WhatsApp, the chat will be unlocked until he will close WhatsApp.
Protected chats should be marked, so the user can easily recognise them, maybe with a new icon (like the pinned one) or something similar.
In my concept, as shown in the precedent screenshot, protected chats have a yellow background color.
However, there are a lot of ways to open a chat. Let’s see all (or almost) possible methods.
This is the main way. Opening a protected chat from the Chats List, WhatsApp should present an alert to ask the verification.
On iPhone 6S, 7, 8 and X, you can see the chat preview using the peek action.
The user may try to open a protected chat using this action and WhatsApp should immediately stop it.
The same if the user tries to peek on messages/chat search results.
The More button launches a sheet that contains the Contact Info option, that can be used to bypass the protection check.
The sheet should be fully protected and this will also be very useful to protect the Delete Chat option.
In the Chats List section, there is an option that, if selected, opens your contacts list. When the user selects a protected contact, WhatsApp shouldn’t immediately open its chat but it should ask to verify his identity using Touch ID.
It’s possible to open a chat from the Starred Messages section, if you have starred a message.
In this situation, to view the full chat, WhatsApp should present another alert to ask to the user its fingerprint.
If the user stars a message, that means the message is very important: so, alternatively, if the Starred Messages section has some messages containted in protected chats, it may be a good idea to ask the identity verification in order to open the section.
If the user is searching some messages in WhatsApp, WhatsApp should hide all results for protected chats.
The user has to verify his identity, then WhatsApp will show all results of that protected unlocked chat (so the “This content is protected” text will be replaced with the original message).
Another idea is to group all messages contained in protected chats in a new separate cell called Messages in protected chats: when authenticated, the user will be able to enter in this new section.
GROUP AND BROADCAST INFO SECTIONS
MENTIONS IN GROUPS
Actually if you are in a group and you mention an user, you can tap on the mentioned contact to open the chat.
This action shouldn’t be allowed when it is a protected chat, and the Touch ID alert should be presented.
OFFICIAL WHATSAPP API
https://api.whatsapp.com/send?phone=PHONENUMBER: this is the format of an official WhatsApp API (Click to Chat, that will be very used in Enterprises websites).
Try to replace PHONENUMBER with a real phone number and you will notice WhatsApp will open that chat (this works also on WhatsApp Web).
This action should be protected, because it may bypass the process.
DELETE/CLEAR ALL CHATS OPTIONS
Actually, if the user tries to select one of these two options in WhatsApp Settings > Chats, WhatsApp ask to enter the phone number in order to confirm the operation.
Surely the Touch ID verification is the best option, don’t you think?
When the user wants to scan a QR code to start a new WhatsApp session, WhatsApp should ask to verify his identity. In this way, we are sure nobody used our phone to start a new webClient session to read our protected chats from WhatsApp Web.
Alternatively, WhatsApp should ask the passcode you chose in WhatsApp Settings to configure Touch ID, that should be sent to WhatsApp Web in an encrypted way, so it will be necessary to insert the passcode to open protected chats on WhatsApp Web.
NOTIFICATIONS AND MESSAGE PREVIEW
When the user receives a message in a protected chat, its preview in the push notification should be hidden.
Anyway WhatsApp may implement a new option called Hide Preview for Protected Chats, so the user can continue to view messages preview also for protected chats.
Normally, when the user taps on the push notification, WhatsApp directly opens the chat.
If the push notification contains a message sent from a protected contact, WhatsApp should present an alert asking the fingerprint in the app before opening the chat.
The same applies for local notifications.
In this situation, I have a protected chat with Home, so the message preview isn’t available, instead the chat with Contact1 isn’t protected, so the message preview is visible.
Note that, in my concept, once the user unlocks a protected chat, verifying his identity, and he taps once the home button, the protected chat is still unlocked so the message preview will be presented. The lock status will be restored once the user kills WhatsApp.
This behavior may be configured in WhatsApp Settings.
When the user forwards a message in a chat, WhatsApp automatically opens it.
If it is a protected chat, WhatsApp shouldn’t perform this operation.
The user shouldn’t be able to select the Contact Info option for a protected contact.
This uses the same “WhatsApp Widget” protection way mentioned above.
Here you can see a short demo video of the concept.
To make this concept, I needed 4 days, so you can understand how easy the implementation is.
Obviously I’m only a person, instead WhatsApp has a full team that can implement this feature also better than me.
Obvioulsy the same concept is applied for Face ID on iPhone X.
If you would you like to see the chat protection feature in WhatsApp, I invite you to send to WhatsApp a feedback, writing a mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, hoping they will consider the idea to finally implement this feature natively.
Note that this is only a concept and it is not a hidden feature.
Other posts you would like to read:
• WhatsApp to improve the user experience in groups.
• First Verified Business Accounts appear in WhatsApp.
• WhatsApp is testing more options for image compression.
• WhatsApp to support Stickers like Instagram.
• WhatsApp will support YouTube in the app.