A couple of days after WhatsApp started showing oddly cryptic timestamps on the beta version of the app for Android, an update issued today has fixed the issue. Until the update, timestamps for chats on the WhatsApp beta version for Android were showing as 84ODAY and 89ESTERDAY instead of ‘today’ and ‘yesterday’. The issue did not affect timestamps other than ‘Today’ and ‘Yesterday’ though, with the rest appearing normally with the date of the chat in place. The bug was visible for some within chat windows, while others could see it in the ‘Status’ section of the app.
Importantly, the bug did not cause any significant damage (that we know of), allowing users to continue using the app normally. It only created a visual anomaly in the timestamp, which meant that the fix was also relatively easy to execute. The issue was caused by the first letters in ‘Today’ and ‘Yesterday’ (T and Y) being replaced with their ASCII codes, which are 84 and 89 respectively. Additionally, the bug has affected only users of WhatsApp beta on Android, with the stable version of the app on all platforms including Android, as well as beta versions for other platforms, remaining unaffected.
With the latest update, things have gone back to normal even for WhatsApp beta on Android users. Notably, WhatsApp beta users get early access to in-development features on the app, and get a chance to test out any new features as such. However, the beta version of the app is less stable than the primary release, and thus may cause problems such as this bug. This particular bug turned out to be harmless and easy to fix, and only caused some mild amusement for users.
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WhatsApp recently came under scrutiny due to the privacy concerns that are currently plaguing its parent company Facebook. However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stated that Facebook systems cannot see the content of messages on WhatsApp, thanks to the level of encryption in place. The platform collects very little user information, according to Zuckerberg.