WhatsApp’s developers have started 2016 in force, releasing three beta versions until now, but 2.12.396 doesn’t bring new features and in the absence of a change log, we can assume that the update has only a few bug fixes and performance improvements.
WhatsApp 2.12.396 was already uploaded on the official website, so you can manually download and install it on your Android smartphone. The good news is that you don’t need to uninstall the previous version, as this one will automatically update whatever old version you had installed on your smartphone.
On the Google Play Store, you’ll find only the latest stable version of WhatsApp, which contains three important features: starred messages (it’s similar to a bookmarked web page, which makes the message easier to be found), rich preview (when receiving a link, you will know what the page contains without opening it) and support for Android direct share (it works on Android 6.0+ and you can chare content from other applications with your contacts).
At the end of 2015, the developers took a long break and spent the Winter Holidays with their families and friends, but once they returned to work, they continued improving the application. WhatsApp 2.12.396 doesn’t come with new features, but as you know, a few months ago was introduced the option to back up chats on the Google Drive and now you can mark chats as unread, make voice calls to other WhatsApp friends, log into your account from your computer (using the web client and one of the supported browsers: Firefox, Chrome and Opera) etc.
In order to install the latest beta version on your Android smartphone, first you must enable the Unknown Sources option, which is found in Settings > Security, so just check the box in front of it. After installing the update, disable this option, because otherwise, you’ll risk infecting your device with viruses, by downloading files from third party sources that contain malware.