WhatsApp users can finally start using the service on multiple devices without being connected to a smartphone.
The promised update arrives on both Android and iPhone in beta, for the time being, and enables users to access the service on up to four linked devices.
So, if you’re using WhatsApp on your laptop via WhatsApp Web or WhatsApp Desktop, for example, you’ll remain connected even if your phone is not. That’s handy if you want to leave your phone at home, or the battery dies.
The company isn’t enabling all users to take part in the beta yet, but to see whether you’re eligible to give it a try, make sure you’ve updated to the latest version of WhatsApp, which is 2.21.220 on iPhone and 126.96.36.199 on Android.
From here, just open WhatsApp and select Settings > Linked Devices and select Multi-Device Beta if the option is available to you. WhatsApp will log you out of all existing devices and require you to connect again in order to use multi-device support.
When you join the beta you’ll see the message: “Now you can use WhatsApp on web, desktop and Portal without having to keep your phone connected.”
WhatsApp says all chats will continue to be encrypted end-to-end, but there are some limitations. The Meta-owned company says you won’t be able to take advantage of the feature if the intended recipient has an outdated version of the app on their phone. There might also be some performance and quality issues, while the company works on perfecting the feature.
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If you don’t want to chance it for now, we’ll let you know when the feature comes out of beta and rolls out to the public. It’s the latest interoperability feature WhatsApp has added in recent weeks, following the launch of an iOS-to-Android transfer feature.