When you get a WhatsApp message, whether it’s from your cousin or your neighbor, the notification icon is always the same: the WhatsApp icon. Probably not all your WhatsApp contacts are the same for you, and neither do their notifications have to be. It does not have to be this way.
The latest versions of Android -from Android 11- have changed how notifications work with the arrival of different priorities in conversations. A side effect is being able to make some of your contacts show their photo in notifications of your WhatsApp messages
Photo instead of icon for WhatsApp VIPs
With Android 11, Google introduced several changes to how notifications work and are grouped. In addition to having different priorities – something that already existed – the concept of the conversations: Messaging app notifications. In Android 12, Google has expanded the concept even further, with a dedicated widget for conversations.
Starting with Android 12, notifications are displayed on the dashboard in three groups: conversations, notifications, and muted. WhatsApp is one of the messaging applications that support conversations, which means that you can mark some conversations as priority. It’s done with a long tap on your notification: choosing after Priority.
You need to do a long tap on the notification to access its options and change its priority
After doing so, that conversation is marked as a priority, which implies a series of changes, as detailed in the explanatory text itself. This is what changes after mark a conversation as priority:
Priority conversations are displayed at the top
If the app supports notification bubbles, it is shown as bubble
The profile photo is used in the notification and separated from other notifications of that same app
As of today, native Android bubbles don’t seem to be supported by the WhatsApp application, but what you will achieve by marking a WhatsApp conversation as a priority is that you will see the profile picture of that contact in their notifications. If other people write to you, those notifications will continue to be marked with the WhatsApp icon, separately.
Two WhatsApp notifications: the one on the left is a priority and the one on the right is not
This is a fairly easy way to make sure you do not miss any message from an important contact, by separating your notifications from the rest. It is especially useful if you receive a lot of WhatsApp messages and you have a hard time distinguishing what is important and what is not.
The “bad” news is that you will need to have Android 11 or higher installed. A few months ago, Google estimated that 25% of active mobiles had Android 11 or higher. The figure will be better today, yes.