Why is WhatsApp expanding multi-device support to iPads and Android tablets?

The Facebook-owned company has been trying to address lack of native support for tablets

People are seen as silhouettes as they check mobile devices whilst standing against an illuminated wall bearing WhatsApp Inc's logo in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016. WhatsApp Inc. offers a cross-platform mobile messaging application that allows users to exchange messages. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

WhatsApp will expand its multi-device support to Apple’s iPads and on all tablets running on Android, according to a report from WABetaInfo, one of the most reliable sources on WhatsApp.

The Facebook-owned company rolled out its multi-device beta, or test, support for select users last month, which will allow users to run the same WhatsApp account on four more non-phone devices.

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We have developed new technologies to maintain end-to-end encryption while still managing to sync your data
WhatsApp

Here's what this mean for users.

What is the multi-device beta programme?

WhatsApp’s multi-device beta is an opt-in programme that provides users with early access to try a new version of the messaging app. In addition to a smartphone, the new feature provides an option to use the same WhatsApp account for web, desktop and Facebook Portal.

Portal is a smart display that is primarily used to make video calls through Facebook Messenger’s built-in video calling service.

“If you join the multi-device beta, you will be able to use linked companion devices without the need to keep your phone connected,” WhatsApp said.

What changes will it bring?

With this new capability, users can use WhatsApp on their phone and up to four other non-phone devices simultaneously — even if their phone runs out of battery power.

However, users still cannot use the same WhatsApp account on more than one phone.

Currently, users can access WhatsApp on a personal computer by having their phone connected to the internet at all times. Users link their phone with the PC by scanning a quick response (QR) code.

But they lose access to WhatsApp on their PC if there is no internet connectivity on the phone or if the device's battery runs out.

But with the new feature, the linked devices would function even when there is no power or network connection in the main phone device.

Why is WhatsApp expanding multi-device support to tablets?

WhatsApp will officially support iPads and other tablets as linked devices, according to WABetaInfo.

“WhatsApp is finally working on multi-device 2.0, and you can use iPad as new linked device,” WABetaInfo said on Twitter.

“Android tablets are also planned to support multi-device on WhatsApp for Android! It's under development and it will be released in a future update,” it added.

WABetaInfo was founded in 2016 on Twitter to independently announce news about WhatsApp.

Missing native support for the tablets is something the messaging app has been trying to address for a while.

How does multi-device programme work?

While the new feature allows the use of WhatsApp on multiple devices, users still need to register their WhatsApp account and link new devices with their phone. If they don’t use their phone for over 14 days, the linked devices will be disconnected.

What about privacy of user data?

Facebook said each companion device will connect to a user’s WhatsApp account independently, while maintaining privacy and security through end-to-end encryption.

“We have developed new technologies to maintain end-to-end encryption while still managing to sync your data — such as contact names, chat archives, starred messages and more — across devices,” WhatsApp said.

How big is the WhatsApp community?

As of March 2020, WhatsApp had two billion monthly active users, up from over a billion in February 2016, according to Statista.

Acquired by Facebook for $19 billion in February 2014, WhatsApp is a cross-platform instant messaging service that relies on the internet for the transmission of messages. In the US alone, WhatsApp users are forecast to grow to 85.8 million in 2023 from 68.1 million in 2019, Statista said.

Updated: August 24th 2021, 9:46 AM
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