It’s taken the Facebook-owned firm years to launch, but users of WhatsApp Web and Desktop are finally about to get one of the messaging app’s most-wanted features. Until now, using WhatsApp on your laptop, computer or tablet meant keeping a secure connection to your smartphone. This has been a huge annoyance if your phone is out of battery, lost or broken. There’s no way to check your messages without an active phone and downloading chats and photos on a second device can be slow.
So users rejoiced this week when the company announced it will be adding multi-device support. You will now be able to use WhatsApp on up to four devices at once, plus your phone. Even better, it works without a phone connection.
The delay was because WhatsApp wanted to make sure it was protecting users’ privacy when switching devices. But it has developed some clever new tech to ensure all your messages still have end-to-end encryption so hackers can’t intercept and read them.
As a bonus, all your messages and other data like stickers, archived chats, new contacts and starred messages, will be synchronised seamlessly between all your devices. You will also be able to start and answer WhatsApp calls from any device.
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As an extra measure, a new technology called Automatic Device Verification will reduce the number of times you need to carry out identity verifications like security codes.
The new feature puts WhatsApp ahead of rivals Signal and Telegram. Signal has end-to-end encryption but doesn’t support multiple devices. Meanwhile, Telegram’s encrypted “secret” chats can only be read on one device.
Speaking about the upgrade, Will Cathcart Head of WhatsApp, said: “Very excited to be launching a beta of our new multi-device capability for @WhatsApp. Now you can use our desktop or web experiences even when your phone isn’t active and connected to the internet.
“All secured with end-to-end encryption. We’ve been working on this for a long time. Until now, @WhatsApp has only been available on one device at a time. And desktop and web support only worked by mirroring off your phone – which meant your phone had to be on and have an active internet connection. Our multi-device capability immediately makes the experience better for people who use desktop/web and Portal. And it also will make it possible to add support for more kinds of devices over time.”
Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait to benefit from the change. It’s being tested with a small group of users before being rolled out more widely. We can’t wait.
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