Everybody I know uses WhatsApp. In fact, I’d argue that in certain markets, the Facebook-owned instant messaging app has usurped the traditional method of text messaging (SMS), while there are the added benefits of video calls, voice notes, images, and so on. However, there has always been a major gripe with the platform for many users (including this writer)—why can’t you use the same account across multiple platforms?
Currently, user IDs are tied to registered phone numbers, and the closest thing we have to a multiple-device setup is WhatsApp Web. But there is some good news. WABetaInfo reports that developers are currently working on a new feature that will finally allow users to use a single account across multiple devices—up to four at a time.
This opens up quite a bit of possibilities. For one, this feature appears to be a cross-platform one, which means that you’ll be able to use the same account on Android and iOS devices. It should theoretically be seamless, with the report saying that chat histories will be copied over to other devices once they have been registered as a linked device (WiFi required).
Do note that this would be a subtle, but significant change from the way WhatsApp Web works at the time of writing. WhatsApp Web is basically a mirror image of your primary WhatsApp mobile app, and requires your smartphone to be connected (and powered on). With the new feature however, new messages will be delivered to all devices registered, and chat histories are immediately synced across platforms.
And the best bit? We could also be seeing an iPad app—at long, long last. Beyond the usual WhatsApp Web trick (and iPad apps that basically load up WhatsApp Web), there has been zero support for the iPad from WhatsApp. This means that the iPad will be supported as one of the four registered “family” devices, and you could theoretically use your cellular-enabled iPad as your primary, mobile WhatsApp device.
This should also finally solve the conundrum that users have had for ages: how do you transfer chats from iOS to Android and vice versa? Again, the current backup mechanism for Android devices relies on Google Drive, while iOS devices use iCloud for histories—this new feature could be the answer to that.
Do note that WhatsApp hasn’t confirmed the news, although information from WABetainfo has been fairly reliable in the past. No official timeline has been provided either, and with privacy concerns becoming increasingly apparent, a possibility is that WhatsApp are ensuring that their end-to-end encryption promise is kept with the new feature.
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