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WhatsApp just got a big biometric security boost on the iPhone

If you’re worried about people prying into your WhatsApp conversations, then the latest update to the iOS version of the messaging app should be music to your ears.

The latest version – 2.19.20 for those keeping track – introduces biometric authentication for the first time. That means that if you enable the extra layer of security, you won’t be able to access the app on your phone without showing your face (Face ID: iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR) or fingerprint (everything else, dating back to the iPhone 5S).

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This is pleasingly flexible, as the new version of WhatsApp lets you set time limit to this if you like – as in, you can only make biometrics required after an hour of inactivity.

There is a fairly big caveat for the super paranoid, mind: notifications can still appear outside of the app if enabled more widely. You can even reply from a notification, so if that’s an issue then you may want to tackle how iOS tackles notifications more widely.

Beyond that, though, you can’t get into WhatsApp and see conversation histories without some kind of biometric identification.

Whether or not that’s useful to you depends on how you use your phone, I suppose. For people who keep their handsets firmly about their person at all times, it’s probably unnecessary – after all, you have to unlock your iPhone to get to the app anyway.

But if you regularly find yourself passing your phone around, or routinely use its games to placate bored children, then it’s definitely worth enabling.

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What’s particularly interesting about this is that the iOS version of WhatsApp has got the feature ahead of the Android edition. Presumably this is to do with the sheer number of Android handsets out there, but it’s still bit of a bonus for Apple and its ongoing campaign to promote itself as the choice for privacy heads.

Will you be enabling biometric authentication on WhatsApp, or does it seem like overkill? Let us know what you think on Twitter @TrustedReviews.

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