WhatsApp has improved the security for its app by introducing an extra layer of protection for privacy-conscious users.

The latest update for the popular messaging app allows people to restrict access using biometric technology.

Version 2.19.20 of WhatsApp will include the new security feature for users of the iOS app, meaning iPhone owners can restrict access to the app using either Face ID facial recognition or Touch ID fingerprint security.

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The feature was first reported last month by the WeBetaInfo website, who spotted the update in an unreleased version of the app. 

Its roll out on the iOS app was then spotted by unofficial Apple news site 9to5Mac. 

The feature can be enabled through the Privacy menu within the app's Account Settings.

The update description states: "You can now require Face ID or Touch ID to unlock WhatsApp. Tap 'Settings' > 'Account' > 'Privacy' and enable Screen Lock.

Other anticipated updates include a much larger sticker selection and the inclusion of third-party keyboards.

Since launching in 2009, WhatsApp has grown to become the world's most popular messaging app with around 1.5 billion monthly active users. But a major merger with other Facebook-owned messaging apps may boost this number even further. 

The integration with Instagram and Facebook Messenger will see the underlying messaging infrastructure of the apps be unified, according to Facebook. 

“The integration that we’re thinking about, we’re really early in thinking through this,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently said, without specifying a date for when it might take place. “There’s a lot more we need to figure out.”

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