For the first time, WhatsApp is introducing a new feature that will allow users message from a computer without needing to have their phones at hand. At present, WhatsApp which is owned by Facebook is linked to a user’s phone. It has an app for desktop, but until now users have needed their phones on and connected to be able to send and receive messages and make calls. But the new feature will let users send and receive messages “even if your phone battery is dead.” Up to four other devices, like PCs (Mac or Windows) and tablets, can be used together, WhatsApp said. WhatsApp users will also be able to enjoy video and audio chats on WhatsApp for PC without their phone.
To begin with, the new feature will be rolled out as a beta test for a “small group of users”, and the team plans to improve performance and add features before enabling it for everyone.
End-to-end encryption, a key selling point for WhatsApp, will still work under this new system, it said.
Several other messaging apps already have such a feature, including rival encrypted app Signal, which requires a phone for sign-up, but not to exchange messages.
“Very excited to be launching a beta of our new multi-device capability for WhatsApp,” said Will Cathcart, head of WhatsApp.
“Now you can use our desktop or web experiences even when your phone isn’t active and connected to the internet.”