By Luke Bull

 

It’s tough for a PR man to admit, but we’ve all said something we wish we hadn’t. Now WhatsApp’s latest social media technology is giving us more time to correct that.

The world’s favourite messaging app has been giving us seven minutes to delete a sent message if we change our mind – but only since late last year.

But that’s changing, according to product marketing insiders. Instead of the standard 420 seconds, you’ll get 68 minutes and 16 seconds to delete. That might sound like a random length of time, but it’s 4096 seconds, a good old round number in binary as fans of tech blogs already know.

That’s plenty of time to delete that ill-thought comment or a message sent to the wrong person, provided they haven’t read it, of course. And with the “Delete for Everyone” option, it could get you out of a group chat hole.

The switch is currently being tested by Android beta users who have WhatsApp version 2.18.69 on their phone.

For those who have it, the delete option is easy enough to access. Just open the chat that contains the message you want rid of and tap and hold the message – or, poor you, messages – you want rid of. Then tap Delete at the top of the screen and selected Delete for Everyone.

Unfortunately, even though your intended recipient hasn’t read the message you’ve deleted, they get a message saying you wiped a message to them. Awkward. And perhaps something the technology brand should address.

And there’s no way to get rid of a message that’s already been read. That’s a lesson in thinking before you text, tweet, post or WhatsApp right there.

Perhaps of more use – because people check their phones so regularly, they’ll have been offended by your message before you’ve realised it’s offensive – is a feature WhatsApp is rolling out in India.

The app’s two million users there will be able to make money transfers in-app following a successful trial involving a million people.

Anyone who wants to use it will have to link their WhatsApp account with their bank account. That follows the lead of other chat apps such as Chinese owned WeChat, who hit a billion messages a month for the first time in February.

It’s this kind of functionality and added value which is driving the success of free apps. The very best have to be able to offer something more to their users, to make their lives easier in lots of little ways.

After all, it’s far more convenient to WhatsApp someone the money for the Chinese takeaway you are sharing than to go through the rigmarole of opening up your banking app, or – and this is very Noughties – dig around in your pocket for the exact share of the bill.

What WhatsApp has done by giving people more time to delete their messages doesn’t amount to a whole hill of beans.

But if the money transfers go worldwide, that would be a real boon.

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