New web-based app finally allows users to send messages from a computer to contacts using smartphones.
WhatsApp can finally be used on something other than a smartphone: a desktop web app.
The new platform allows WhatsApp’s 700m users to send and receive free text, picture and voice messages through Google Chrome on a computer, but only if they use WhatsApp on an Android, Windows Phone or BlackBerry. iPhone users need not apply.
“Unfortunately for now, we will not be able to provide web client to our iOS users due to Apple platform limitations,” said WhatsApp in a blog post.
Today, for the first time, millions of you will have the ability to use WhatsApp on your web browser. Our web client is simply an extension of your phone: the web browser mirrors conversations and messages from your mobile device — this means all of your messages still live on your phone.
To connect your web browser to your WhatsApp client, simply open https://web.whatsapp.com in your Google Chrome browser. You will see a QR code — scan the code inside of WhatsApp, and you’re ready to go. You have now paired WhatsApp on your phone with the WhatsApp web client. Your phone needs to stay connected to the internet for our web client to work, and please make sure to install the latest version of WhatsApp on your phone. Unfortunately for now, we will not be able to provide web client to our iOS users due to Apple platform limitations.
iPhone users are excluded because of the way WhatsApp relies on a constant connection between the smartphone and desktop web apps. It differs from rivals including Facebook Messenger by using end-to-end encryption to protect messages from snooping.
Jan Koum, WhatsApp chief executive, said: “Our web client is simply an extension of your phone: the web browser mirrors conversations and messages from your mobile device. This means all of your messages still live on your phone.”‘Messages remain on the smartphone’
The system works very well on the desktop, with messages sending and arriving seamlessly with the smartphone. Messages sent from the desktop appear exactly the same as those sent from a smartphone.
Desktop users can reply to group messages, but cannot establish a new group without doing so on a smartphone.
The Facebook-owned service recently announced that it had 700m monthly active users who send more than 30bn WhatsApp messages a day. It has added about 25m users a month since August 2014.
WhatsApp’s main rivals include Facebook’s own Messenger app, which reached 500m active users in November and can be used through a web browser without a connection to the smartphone, along with Chinese messaging app WeChat, which reached 438m active users in August.