WhatsApp Continues Evolution with Username Search Feature

  • 02-12-2023 |
  • Nolan Gallagher

In a game of feature catch-up with rival messaging platforms, WhatsApp, a Meta-owned service, has been developing a host of new functionalities to streamline user interaction and enhance privacy. Recently, a revelation surfaced regarding WhatsApp's work on a username system that would allow people to connect without sharing their phone numbers—a much-anticipated update given the privacy concerns associated with distributing personal contact details.

The latest beta version of WhatsApp for Android, specifically, showcased progress on this feature by incorporating a username search capability. Despite the update not being visible on the subsequent beta release,, the discovery indicates that WhatsApp is steadily moving forward with the username option. The search bar now conspicuously includes 'username' along with 'name' and 'number', although this addition has resulted in a somewhat congested interface.

At the moment, this functionality isn't available to all users, suggesting a phased, possibly region-specific, deployment. In India, for instance, beta users are not yet able to set or search for usernames. WhatsApp plans to make username usage optional, providing account holders with the flexibility to adapt or remove them as they prefer.

The concept of usernames is not new to instant messaging, with apps like Telegram having utilized them to simplify user discovery—making it easier to connect with just a few keystrokes rather than inputting complete phone numbers. This feature reflects a growing trend where convenience is balanced against the need for privacy, as users face unwelcome attention from businesses following minimal interaction.

While there's no confirmed release date for the wider availability of usernames or the updated search functionality, the extended development period—spanning over half a year—suggests that users could expect to see these additions in a forthcoming stable release.

In parallel, WhatsApp is reportedly also exploring ways to enhance channel visibility by allowing them to set usernames, thus making it more straightforward for audiences to find their favorite content. In a nod to privacy consciousness, the latest stable release of WhatsApp brought improvements to the Chat Lock feature, offering users a more accessible method to secure their conversations and the ability to use a secret code in the search bar to gain access to hidden chats.

WhatsApp's iterative development continues as it introduces new layers of user control, making communications more secure and private while trying to stay in stride with the competitive landscape of instant messaging platforms.