WhatsApp adds Android fingerprint unlocking

What happened?

Tired of tapping a PIN into your phone to protect your WhatsApp chats? If your Android phone has a fingerprint scanner, you can now use it to keep nosy parkers from reading your private conversations, though this comes months after the same feature was introduced in the iOS a version of the app. The new feature means you use your smartphone’s fingerprint scanner to open the app, even after unlocking your phone, which makes it impossible for someone else to pick up your handset and read your messages. So far, there are no plans to add facial recognition for phones that support it.

How will it affect you?

Fingerprint unlocking will work on all versions of Android with a scanner, provided WhatsApp has been updated to at least

version 2.19.222. To enable the feature, open WhatsApp and go to Settings, Account, Privacy. There, you’ll see a ‘Fingerprint lock’ page, which lets you turn on the feature and set a length of time before the app automatically locks – immediately, after one minute or after half an hour.
If your phone starts to ring with a WhatsApp call, there’s no need to fiddle with a fingerprint because you can answer calls without unlocking the app.

What do we think?

It makes sense for apps to use advanced security features such as fingerprint recognition, not least because it makes them faster to unlock and saves you having to memorize yet another PIN or password.
But it’s worth remembering that this only protects you from someone picking up your phone and reading your messages, not against hackers cracking the app and accessing your data, and it won’t stop WhatsApp suffering security breaches and flaws. The new option is worth enabling, but you should also turn on two-factor authentication if you haven’t already – for WhatsApp and other apps and accounts. See our feature on page 48 for more secret tips for WhatsApp.

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