The rumors we’ve been hearing for quite a while now have turned out to be true. WhatsApp officially took the wraps off of it’s web client and you can finally send and receive WhatsApp messages on your computer. We shall dive in to do a quick hands on of the new service.
How do I get started?
- Update to the latest version of WhatsApp from the Play Store which is 2.11.500, by the way. If the update is not yet available in your country, the folks at AndroidPolice have been kind enough to upload the APK.
- Once updated, force close the App and reopen and you’ll be greeted with a new “WhatsApp Web” option in the main menu.
- Go to Web.WhatsApp.com on your desktop browser and scan the QR code and it shall let you in.
What you need to know
- The web version of WhatsApp uses a simple QR code scanning authentication system instead of username/password combination.
- You’ll need your phone connected to a network all the time you are using it on your browser. If there’s no data connection on your phone, it’ll simply display an error connecting message on the browser.
- Right now, it works on Android, Symbian, Blackberry and Windows Phone but not on iOS. WhatsApp says it’s due to system limitations. We believe that it has something to do with notifications not been able to mirror on browser in the background.
- The Web interface is complete from the smiley panel to voice clips and everything you’d find on its mobile counterpart.
- The notifications are basically mirrored from phone to the web. So a deletion of messages are in sync between the web and the phone.
- Material Design : With the web version, WhatsApp finally seems serious about design while bringing a lot of material touches. It’d be pretty safe to assume that the mobile version is getting the same treatment soon.
- Notifications : If you’re using Desktop Chrome, you can enable desktop notifications for new messages. (To get more reasons to distracted when you’re working on your new blog post)
Not everything is alright
The first major annoyance is that the web client needs the phone as an auxiliary, that is, the web client is useless if you’re not using their mobile app. The best we can understand is, this is just a web app and not a full-blown client.
The second problem is, if your phone needs to be connected to a data service all the time, it defeats the purpose of the web version. There’s basically no benefits other than typing and receiving messages on a large screen.
Next up, as Lopez finds on Twitter, WhatsApp is using a non-standard local file system API for its web version. Now, doing a quick compatibility check for request file system reveals that it’s supported only by Google Chrome. It pretty much explains why it’s a Chrome only for now. Using non-standard support isn’t probably what you should advertise when you’re making a foray into web apps.
There are other things that are missing too, like the inability to delete messages from the web and change your profile picture or even update status. But hopefully, these are on the software side of things and an update could trigger it in the near future.
It should get better
The web counterpart seems like a complete feature rich package that covers almost everything that its mobile app has. The web interface has some questionable stuffs, but all in all, this is one great start. It has miles to go from here. But hey, won’t you mind obsessing over the latest cat pictures on your computer instead of being distracted by your phone?