WhatsApp Is Now Available on a Web Browser
Users of the popular messaging app WhatsApp can now conduct their chats via a Web browser — with a few restrictions.
The Facebook-owned service with some 700 million monthly active users said in a blog post Wednesday that people can now link their mobile phones with a WhatsApp Web client, allowing them to write and read messages via their computers.
There are, however, a few limitations to the setup. First, those with iPhones are out of luck due to “Apple platform limitations,” WhatsApp says. The service works with Android, BlackBerry, Nokia S60 and Windows devices, but users need the latest version of WhatsApp.
To start, WhatsApp users can visit Web.WhatsApp.com via Google’s Chrome browser on their computers, where a QR code will appear.
Then they need to open WhatsApp, click a button that says “WhatsApp Web,” and use their phone’s camera to snap a photo of the code. (WhatsApp notes that users’ phones must remain connected to the Internet for the setup to work.)
So, why would anyone want to do this?
For one thing, using a keyboard to write messages is faster than doing so on a smartphone. Users can also more easily save images or videos on their computers using this arrangement. And people like office workers, who spend much of the day sitting at their desks, can opt to receive WhatsApp alerts on their computers, effectively uniting their work computers and their phones.
WhatsApp didn’t disclose the reason for offering the new functionality. But it’s no secret that Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook is keen to connect users all over the world, whether that’s via their own platform, via WhatsApp, or on Instagram, the photo sharing app Facebook acquired for $1 billion in 2012. A Facebook spokeswoman referred questions to WhatsApp; a representative there did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This isn’t the first such offering from a messaging app. Asian competitors like China’s WeChat and Line, which is owned by South Korean Internet portal Naver, have offered similar functionality for some time.
In that sense, WhatsApp is just now catching up with its international rivals.