Good news, WhatsApp is available to use on the web. Here’s how it all works and why iPhone users are missing out.
The instant messaging service is finally joining the likes of Viber, Skype and Google Hangouts by adding web support alongside its existing smartphone apps.
Officially announced via Facebook post by the app’s founder Jan Koum, WhatsApp for web is available to use right now if you have the free phone app or pay a WhatsApp subscription.
Before you go rushing off to resume your group chats though, we run through the key things you need to know to get it up and running.
What do I need to run WhatsApp Web?
The first thing you need to run the WhatsApp client is to have the Google Chrome web browser running on your desktop or laptop. In most cases, laptops and Chromebooks will have this pre-loaded but it’s easy enough to get installed if not. Simply head to the Google Chrome browser page and go through the pretty straightforward setup to get it added to your PC.
Next, you need to go to the WhatsApp phone app, and go to the settings where you should now see a tab for WhatsApp Web. Click on that option and you will then be prompted to launch web.whatsapp.com on your Google Chrome browser on your computer.
Next you will need to scan the QR code on the screen using the camera on your phone, by lining it up inside the box. Once, that’s done, the client should boot up pulling in existing conversations and will pull through all of your contacts.
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What can WhatsApp Web do?
You will be able to send and receive messages within the Google Chrome browser in a similar fashion as you can from the phone app. Additionally, messages including texts and images will sync across devices so will appear on your phone as well.
WhatsApp has added some specific desktop notification settings, letting you receive alerts with or without sounds. You can also turn off those alerts for specific periods whether it’s one hour, a day or even a week, if you don’t want to be disturbed during work.
Can everyone use it?
At the moment, no. If you are using WhatsApp on an Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone handset and bizarrely, the Symbian-running Nokia S60 then you are good to go.
For WhatsApp iPhone users, it’s a slightly different story. Currently, the web client is off limits and according to the app’s founder, Jan Koum, that is down to ‘platform limitations’ yet to be resolved.
A WhatsApp spokesperson told website Gigaom that the iOS experience is not up to scratch because of the lack of background multi-tasking and suitable push technology available on iPhones.
An iOS version will be available at some point, but there’s no concrete news on a specific timeframe.
Are there any limitations?
Unfortunately, there’s a few things that don’t make it into the web app like the ability to block users, create new groups and broadcast messages, all of which still need to be done from the phone app.
Additionally, for the WhatsApp web client to remain online, the app needs to be running on your phone with a stable internet connection. So if you think this is a total replacement for your phone app, then you are going to be disappointed.
Have you had a play with the WhatsApp web client? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.