WhatsApp has issued a warning to users considering switching to an unofficial version of the chat app to unlock some exciting new features. While there’s a lot to like about WhatsApp – it uses secure end-to-end encryption to keep your texts from prying eyes by default, it rarely goes offline, and it includes helpful features like voice memos and video calls – it’s still missing quite a few of the glitzier features you’ll find on some rival services.
To account for this shortfall, a number of developers have created unofficial versions of WhatsApp. Importing your existing contacts and conversations into these chat apps unlocks extra functionality …while keeping all of your chat history intact. It’s much more tempting than switching to a rival service, like Telegram, which might not be used by the same friends and family who can be found on WhatsApp.
WhatsApp Plus is one of the unofficial messaging apps that brings extra features to the Facebook-owned messaging app.
Switching to this app allows WhatsApp users to schedule text messages and create auto-replies – like an Out Of Office in your email inbox, send more photos in a single batch, turn off the blue-tick read receipts for all incoming messages while still being able to see whether your recipients have read your texts.
But while these extra features might sound tempting… they’re really not worth the risk.
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That’s because anyone who is caught using WhatsApp Plus, or any other third-party version of WhatApp, will be permanently banned by the teams at WhatsApp. Yes, really.
According to WhatsApp: “Unsupported apps, such as WhatsApp Plus, GB WhatsApp, or apps that claim to move your WhatsApp chats between phones, are altered versions of WhatsApp. These unofficial apps are developed by third parties and violate our Terms of Service.”
Why is WhatsApp so strict on this? Well, the Facebook-owned company says it’s because they “can’t validate their security practices”.
As such, it’s possible these apps could be reading your messages in the background or introducing advertisements to generate revenue for the developers. It could also be that the developers behind these third-party versions aren’t as secure as WhatsApp – allowing bad actors to sneak malware into the app in the future.
WhatsApp Plus isn’t available in the Google Play Store. Instead, Android smartphone owners have to seek out “WhatsApp Plus” from unofficial app repositories online. You’ll also need to disable some of the safeguards turned on by default on Android to download from the web.
Since Apple doesn’t allow iPhone owners to download software from anywhere other than the official App Store – and there’s no way the company is letting an unofficial version of WhatsApp into the online store – iPhone owners don’t need to worry about the latest warning from WhatsApp.
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