Popular messaging app WhatsApp appears to be preparing to add secure logins to its web app in the form of fingerprint authentication for Android users, according to a deep dive into the latest beta version of the mobile app performed by code research site WABetaInfo.
The WhatsApp web companion is essentially a way for users to send and receive messages from their computer, and has compatible PC and Mac apps, as well as a browser version that works with either of the aforementioned OS’s as well as Google’s popular Chromebook line.
Users log into the companion app and link their account to their mobile app by scanning a QR code. After that, messages sent to their WhatsApp account will appear on both their phone and desktop, when the latter is running.
When the new feature becomes available, the user will be required to authenticate any new logins to their account through the WhatsApp mobile app using the fingerprint sensor on their mobile device.
This aims to plug a security hole for the Facebook-owned messaging service, as there is currently no way to ensure third parties can’t have access to your messages when using WhatsApp Web.
As 9to5Google reports, it isn’t clear yet if the new feature will support Google’s Face Unlock facial recognition feature, though Android’s latest biometric API would appear to allow for this to be the case.
It should also be noted that Google itself didn’t include a fingerprint scanner in last year’s Pixel 4, though it has since returned with this year’s Pixel 4a and will likely feature in the Pixel 5 slated for release in the fall.
As this feature is still in beta, it is not yet known when it will make its way to the stable version of the Android app, which is how it would reach the vast majority of WhatsApp’s users.
WhatsApp previously added fingerprint security to its Android app in November of last year, roughly nine months after the feature was introduced for its iOS users.