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WhatsApp testing fingerprint authentication on Android phones

You can't lock specific conversations behind a fingerprint, but the new functionality should be handy anyway.

Published onJanuary 10, 2019

A WhatsApp app icon closeup on a smartphone.

WhatsApp doesn’t require a password or PIN in order to be opened, which means anyone can access your account if your phone is unlocked. Fortunately, the Facebook-owned company is reportedly working on a solution to the problem.

According to reliable website WABetaInfo, WhatsApp is testing fingerprint authentication on the Android version of the app. Once enabled, you’ll need a fingerprint to open the app from the app icon, notification shade, or “external pickers.”

Additionally, a screenshot of the functionality shows that you can use your device credentials (presumably your PIN code) instead of a fingerprint if you’d like. This could prove handy if your fingerprint scanner is finicky or broken.

It’s worth noting that fingerprint authentication in WhatsApp seems to be a blanket option. So you can’t hide specific conversations and contacts behind a biometric wall.

If WhatsApp’s co-founder had gotten his way, you’d have had to pay for messages
A WhatsApp app icon closeup on a smartphone for the best chat apps for android list

WABetaInfo adds that the feature will be available to all fingerprint-toting Android devices running Marshmallow or later. The outlet notes that the functionality is still at the alpha stage of development, suggesting it’ll be months before it actually launches.

If you can’t wait until then, you might be glad to know that several smartphone brands already allow you to hide an app behind a fingerprint. So if you’ve got a recent OnePlus, Samsung, or Xiaomi phone, you can already put your apps on lockdown.

NEXT: CES 2019 — All the announcements in one place

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