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General News WhatsApp beta for Android gets launcher app shortcuts
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[Image: whatsapp-launcher.jpg]

WhatsApp has added launcher app shortcuts on its latest beta version. The functionality was long rumored but has spotted running for the first time. The launcher options can be dragged to the home screen where they become individual shortcuts. Considering this feature is still in the beta mode, the final version if it makes it, could be slightly different.

The shortcut option was introduced through Android Nougat (or Android Marshmallow if a supporting launcher is used) where on long pressing the app icon, the user can switch to a particular feature within the app - like a shortcut. It is an added functionality and makes navigating apps easier. Since the wider rollout of Nougat, WhatsApp has been expected to get the functionality. The new beta version was first spotted by Android Police. The shortcuts offered are for Camera, Contacts and Starred Messages. Interestingly, most of the shortcuts offered by WhatsApp seem redundant as these are most probably least used features.

First up is the camera shortcut. WhatsApp has been pushing its new Status feature and the new ‘Camera’ shortcut can be used to directly capture and share a shortcut on the app. The images can also be shared with other contacts. Though clearly, this has been a move to push the Status functionality, not many people use the |Status function at all. The feature has been one of the least appreciated updates with barely anyone using the platform to share the disappearing status or to check someone else’s on a regular basis. While it did work for Instagram and Snapchat, for WhatsApp it has been a failure.

The second shortcut lets the user jump to a new conversation directly from the home screen. Once again, a quite unexpected feature as not many create new conversations every day. Most WhatsApp users tend to stick to and interact with particular contacts on a daily basis, with rarely initiating a conversation with someone new. The third and the final feature lets users access starred conversations. It is unclear what “Starred” refers to here as pinned contacts are not included in the feature. Also, as there is a separate feature for creating individual contact shortcuts, as well as pinning chats, the new shortcut seems confusing.

However, as the update is only in the Beta stage, these features could just be the testing ground for WhatsApp before the messenger service rolls out the final update with new, finalized features. The new version can be accessed by downloading the apk but it would be wise to simply wait till WhatsApp finalizes the shortcuts and announces a mass rollout. Since the feature is in beta mode, the official announcement might not be too far off.

Source:
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Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
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