Coming Soon: Chat on WhatsApp With Usernames, no Need for Phone Numbers

Soon you will be able to text someone on WhatsApp without sharing your phone number

Highlights
  • WhatsApp’s username-based messaging appears to be in its phase of final development.
  • The feature has been spotted in the latest beta version of WhatsApp on Android.
  • Username-based messaging is expected to allow users to message other people on WhatsApp without revealing their number.
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WhatsApp has been working on its ‘username’ feature for quite a while. The Meta-owned company has been trying to develop a system, where users can message each other without sharing their phone numbers. This is already an option for those using WhatsApp Communities.

It looks like WhatsApp is now gearing up to bring this same username-based messaging to individual chats as well, which makes sense. The latest beta version of WhatsApp on Android is letting some users search for contacts directly with usernames. Let’s have a look at what this feature is all about.

WhatsApp To Soon Launch Username-Based Messaging

WABetaInfo has reported that the latest beta version 2.23.25.19 on Android has started rolling out username search. This means that users will soon be able to navigate through their contacts by using usernames, instead of traditional phone numbers.

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WhatsApp Username Search (Image: WABetaInfo)

However, the feature is currently available only for select beta users on Android and is absent on iOS. The feature should soon be available for all beta users in the coming weeks.

The username feature sounds familiar to what apps like Telegram have offered for a while now. WhatsApp is definitely taking inspiration from Telegram. Of course, it is another way for Meta to integrate its top 3 apps (Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp). Either way, the ability to be able to message someone without sharing your phone number is a huge bonus.

WhatsApp’s Username Messaging: Could it be a bane for privacy?

WhatsApp is immensely popular in Asia and Europe, and is often the primary source of personal messaging in these regions. Although other platforms like Facebook Messenger and even Telegram are widely popular, WhatsApp is considered the inner-circle messaging platform.

This is because people only expect messages from their personal contacts on WhatsApp, while the other social contacts are present on Facebook or Instagram. This is one of the reasons why WhatsApp remains the top messaging service in Asia, despite lacking features as compared to Telegram or any other app.

While username-based messaging is a huge boost for privacy, this also means that users are expected to share their WhatsApp details even with those people, with whom they do not wish to share their number. So the exclusive personal circle status of WhatsApp could fade away. Already the rise of business accounts on WhatsApp has meant that many times users in India are bombarded by messages from accounts they didn’t really sign up for in the first place. With username-based messaging, this problem could grow further.

However, from WhatsApp’s point of view, this will give a massive push in WhatsApp adoption as more people will start using the platform. That’s exactly what Meta wants with each of its apps.

With over 2 billion active users, it will be interesting to see how WhatsApp implements username-based messaging in its app. The feature is expected to roll out to all users by next year.