It used to be that mobile network providers could charge a tonne for inclusive text message plans with their smartphones. However, free messaging applications are changing the landscape of mobile contracts. Here are some useful tips to know when you're using the popular, free messaging application.

#1 – Hide your ‘Last Seen’ status

When you read a WhatsApp message, it's marked with 2 blue ticks for the person who sent it. If you've ever tried to ignore a message from a particular person, then you've probably left it as 'Unread' for as long as possible. However, any activity within the application will still be visible to them, as you'll be flagged as being 'Last Seen' at the time you last opened the app.

Fortunately, you can turn this option off within the app so that any snooping contacts can’t view the last time that you were active in WhatsApp. You can do so by opening Settings and going to Account then Privacy. Tap on the 'Last Seen' field and change it to the option that you desire.

#2 – Track your spouse’s or friend’s location

For some people, tracking the location of a loved one might be a step too far. However, perhaps you're worried about your significant other, or maybe you're waiting on the arrival of a friend.

If you'd like to keep tabs on your friends or family, there's a built-in location tracker within WhatsApp. Fortunately, this requires the permission of the tracked individual or device, so there can be no unwanted spying. To send your location, simply tap on the paper clip icon and select Location > Share Live Location.

This can only be done on a time-limited basis, anywhere from 15 minutes up to 8 hours. Also, you can choose to disallow the tracking at any time once it has been activated, so you’ll only ever be tracked when you choose to be.

#3 – Customise notifications

If you've started to fill up your contacts list, but still have that one person whose messages are more important to you, then you'll be glad to know that you can customise notifications for a specific contact. To do so, you'll need to open a chat window with the contact you'd like to personalise, then tap on their name at the top and select 'custom notifications'.

Next, you'll have to check the box titled 'use custom notifications', before scrolling to the following field to select the customisation you'd like. This could be anything from a specific audio cue to a different LED notification depending on your device.

What’s more, if you’re getting pestered by that group chat that won’t shut up, then you can mute notifications; this prevents them from showing up on your home screen. Simply tap on the group chat title at the top of your screen within the chat window, then select the ‘mute’ option. You’ll have the choice of muting for 8 hours, a week or a year.  

#4 – Share files between platforms

WhatsApp is not only a mobile phone application, but also works as an application within a web browser. Through this means, you can share files between your PC and mobile using the app, provided that you have two accounts.

Simply share the file that you’d like to download from one client to another, for example between your mobile phone and computer. You can do this by opening a chat window between both of your accounts, then sharing the file within the chat window. When you log into your other account, you’ll be able to re-download the file.

#5 – Join the beta testing program

If you want to be the first person to test any new WhatsApp features coming to the application, then you'll need to become a beta tester. Though this can increase the likelihood of encountering bugs and other issues, it's a trade-off against being able to test out new functionality earlier than other users.

To become a beta tester, you'll need to visit the WhatsApp website through the Google Play Store and scroll to the section titled 'Become a beta tester'. Tap on the 'I'm in' button and you'll be added to the program. This works just like a regular Play Store app update. You can follow the same process to leave the program, too.

Stuck with something?

If you’d like any help with downloading, updating or removing the application, then you can get in touch with WiseGuys for helpful advice. You can reach us by phone on 0808 123 2820 or drop into one of our walk-in centres in Bournemouth or Christchurch.