While Apple was recently in the government’s cross-hairs for refusing to help the FBI break into the San Bernardino terrorists’ iPhone, other big tech companies are quietly pushing forward with their own high-tech privacy measures.
On that note, Facebook may be laying the groundwork for a new encryption feature that will allow people to send secret messages to each other on its Messenger app, according to The Information.
The hints at possible encryption were discovered in code hidden in the iPhone version of the app program, which would offer protections akin to the encryption already used by WhatsApp, the popular chat platform acquired by Facebook in 2014. Similar protections are also already offered by rival messaging apps like Telegram.
Encryption is just one of a number of potential new features to emerge from the code investigation, which also pointed to clues that Facebook will soon allow user to buy products or services through Messenger while chatting with a business or possibly even in a retail establishment, presumably using an extended version of an online peer-to-peer payment system introduced last year.
Not coincidentally, the news of possible new features comes not long before Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference, scheduled for next week in San Francisco – typically the occasion for big reveals of new products and features. Among other things, Facebook is also poised to begin inserting ads directly into Messenger.
Competing social platforms are upgrading their chat services as well. Last week photo sharing and video messaging platform Snapchat introduced a new version of its chat app, Chat 2.0, that allows users to move between and combine multiple modes of communication including video, audio, stickers, and GIFs, with more intuitive and immediate transitions between them.
Also last month, Facebook’s WhatsApp launched a new document-sharing feature that allows users to upload and share PDF files through the messaging service.