Apple’s iMessage could learn new tricks from WhatsApp’s cross-device feature


Comment: WhatsApp now lets you access your texts from your computer or tablet, even if your phone is turned off. To access WhatsApp messages, your phone does not need to be turned on. You now have faster access to chats from virtually any computer or tablet you choose, thanks to the new Linked Devices feature of the web and desktop app, which was previously in beta and will be released publicly. over the next few months. WhatsApp’s new feature enables a cross-platform texting experience that reminds me of using iMessage on a Mac and iPhone, but without the need to use only Apple devices.

WhatsApp now lets you choose up to four devices besides your phone that can send and receive WhatsApp messages. You set up these devices by scanning a QR code generated on the WhatsApp website or desktop app with the WhatsApp app on your phone, and after that they are listed as “Linked Devices” in your account. From then on, that browser or desktop app will be able to access your WhatsApp texts whether your phone is present or not. In addition to this flexibility, I also found that WhatsApp would simply start up much faster on the devices I tested, including my work Mac, a Chromebook, and an iPad.

WhatsApp’s desktop apps aren’t new, to be clear. However, they previously required a constant connection to your phone to work. If your phone turned off or was temporarily lost, you could hardly access your texts at all. Other Meta-owned services like Messenger don’t have this limitation, but at the cost of your privacy not having end-to-end encryption enabled by default.

I wouldn’t call WhatsApp’s multi-device system perfect yet, and other messaging apps like Signal and Telegram offer similar solutions, so let’s go over some more ins and outs for WhatsApp’s particular multi-device setup. When your WhatsApp account receives the new linked devices feature, you will receive a message similar to this.

WhatsApp also spells out other omissions that linked devices don’t yet support, including clearing or deleting chats from a linked device if you’re using WhatsApp on an iPhone and showing live location. And while a linked device won’t need a connection to your phone, the new WhatsApp feature still requires a phone to get started. During setup, your phone will send a copy of your most recent message history to your device.

Works on almost all devices, but not nearly all features. The best part of WhatsApp’s new multi-device launch is the speed. As I explained earlier, I can switch between different devices on multiple operating systems and track group chats or quick text messages seamlessly. However, some features such as video and voice calls only work on Windows, macOS and WhatsApp mobile apps. The web version I use on my Chromebook and iPad doesn’t have access to these calling features.

Linked devices also depend on your phone using WhatsApp to stay connected. If you don’t connect to WhatsApp for 14 days from your phone – either because you lost the phone or maybe you only use WhatsApp very occasionally for specific contacts – all linked devices will be disconnected.

I also found that one could inadvertently fill up their paired device limit quickly. If you use the WhatsApp desktop app and WhatsApp for web on the same computer, WhatsApp will see it as two devices. If you clear your cache on your web browser and then log back into WhatsApp on that web browser, it will also appear as a new linked device. It’s easy enough to remove linked devices from your settings, but it’s worth it that some device management might go faster than expected.

Also, for now, smartwatches can’t be a paired device, and WhatsApp doesn’t offer an Apple Watch app either. I find it quite easy to use WhatsApp from an Apple Watch by replying to notifications, but you can’t start new messages with this method. I know of third-party Apple Watch apps in the App Store that unofficially integrate with WhatsApp, but I’d be wary of providing additional access to that.

Summary of news:

  • Apple’s iMessage could learn new tricks from WhatsApp’s cross-device feature
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