The internet is ablaze with tales of WhatsApp’s triumphant foray into the lands of the world wide web. Yes, the headlines are right, there’s a WhatsApp for ‘web’. As always, that’s not the whole story. And here at Guiding Tech we pride ourselves with telling the whole truth. So that next time you’re having a conversation with your slightly less nerdy friends, you can slam their misconceptions and feel better about yourself.
Also, when was the last time a service coming to desktop made so much noise? Usually it’s the other way around. Maybe it’s time to accept that even in the post-PC world, a majority of the work force still sits in front of a computer for 8 hours a day and they’d rather reply to annoying group messages and test new flirting techniques without picking up their phone every 36 seconds. Also, let’s see how long it takes for web.whatsapp.com to make it to your office computer’s block list.
So, time to find out what WhatsApp for web is and what it isn’t. (If you’re the kind of person who goes beyond the headline but isn’t quite ready to read the whole text, I’ve made this easy for you. Stick to the subheadings.)
1. It’s Not WhatsApp Web. It’s WhatsApp for Chrome Desktop for Android Users
I wonder why they didn’t go for that title – “WhatsApp for Chrome desktop for Android users”. Not as sexy as “WhatsApp Web“, but a hell of a lot more accurate.
I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t web mean you can access it from anywhere, on any browser? Web is, after all, the shorthand for www (world wide web). Here, that’s not the case. I’m sure there’s a good reason for WhatsApp to only go with Chrome (for both Windows and Mac). Tighter integration with Android and the built-in support for notification mirroring comes to mind.
But as of right now, you can’t access WhatsApp “Web” from web browsers like Safari, Internet Explorer or Firefox (side note: It does seem to work on Chromium based browsers like Opera). Who knows what the future holds though. After all, in the wise words of Katy Perry: after a hurricane comes a rainbow.
Yes, not all of the 700 million WhatsApp users will be able to use WhatsApp from the desktop tomorrow (including yours truly). The number is going to be substantially small, but still in hundreds of millions so that’s good.
Clarification: WhatsApp Web also works with BlackBerry, BlackBerry 10, Windows Phone and Nokia’s S60 Symbian based phones. Hurray for those twelve guys.
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2. You Need Internet Connection
It has “web” in the title so this one is self-explanatory. Both your devices will need to be connected to the internet. While your phone doesn’t strictly need to be on the same Wi-Fi network (data connection will do), it’ll be faster and cheaper for you if you do so.
3. It Works by Scanning a QR Code
So this is how it works. Fire up WhatsApp on your Android phone and make sure you’re running the latest version (which is 2.11.498 at the time of writing). Tap the three dotted menu and select WhatsApp Web.
Now go to web.whatsapp.com on Chrome on your desktop and scan the QR code on the page using your smartphone’s camera via the WhatsApp app.
Boom, your phone is linked to the web app. You’ll now see all your conversations there.
4. It’s for Conversations, Not Management or Settings
All you can use the web view for is sending and receiving messaging. Management functions like blocking a user, creating groups, or leaving groups are still to be done from the Android app.
5. No Support for iPhone Yet (And Why it’s Only for Android)
This wasn’t a shock for many, given how the web client works. WhatsApp Web is essentially mirroring the data from your phone, not from WhatsApp’s servers. This is great for security reasons, with a phone number still being a user’s identifier (after all, on the internet, no one knows you’re a dog).
On Android, the app has an easier time running in the background and sending push notifications and data from the phone to the connected browser. And this needs to happen even when you haven’t touched the phone in hours and it’s essentially in deep sleep mode.
This just isn’t possible on iOS right now. And then there’s the whole issue of WhatsApp pulling data from the app (even though it’s its own app) and sending it to a different machine. That’s also a strict no-no in the Apple-verse.
6. You Can Use Both at the Same Time
Unlike using WhatsApp on desktop via BlueStacks, you can continue using WhatsApp on your phone even when you’re logged into WhatsApp Web. Your conversation between the two devices will be in constant sync.
Are you using the WhatsApp web client? Has it been the knight in shining armor of your early morning dreams? Let us know in the comments below.