Finally, one of the worst kept secrets in the tech world has come to fruition: WhatsApp has been working on a web client and now it is available for Chrome, Firefox and Opera browsers (sorry Internet Explorer, and other browser users). There is a small caveat here in the WhatsApp for PC version: only Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry smart phone users can take advantage of the web app for PC and Mac; iOS people, you will have to wait due to Apple platform limitations.
WhatsApp for PC - what took you so long?
Rumors of a web/desktop version from the Facebook-owned company have been floating around for months, and were given further weight when Telegram founder Pavel Durov accused the company of trying to poach its web developer (among other things). While there has been much speculation about what direction Facebook would take the messaging app since its acquisition, it seems that producing rival products is still on the agenda. Although, WhatsApp for Web differs from Facebook Messenger because it uses end-to-end encryption when sending messages, so messages remain on the phone rather than being stored on the web.
Back to basics
To set it up, you need to scan the QR code on https://web.whatsapp.com/ by accessing the WhatsApp Web option in the main menu of the mobile app on. Once that’s done, your contacts will be ported to the web version and you’re ready to start chatting, although it’s worth noting that the web version only works while you have an active internet connection. You can then chose whether you want to have desktop notifications and sounds activated (a good feature if you are chatting on the sly at work).
The feature set in WhatsApp for PC is pretty limited at the moment; you can only send normal text-based messages or photos. There is no option to attach video or audio files, start group chats (although you can reply to pre-existing group messages), make calls (audio or video), share your location, back-up messages, edit images, etc. Basically, it’s a really cut down version of the mobile app that’s primarily designed for instant messaging.
Looks just like WhatsApp for mobile, but bigger
WhatsApp Web looks very similar to the Android app. So, it takes one click of the message icon at the top of the screen to start a chat, and all the chats you start on the web app will be synced to your phone (and vice versa). Even if you’re not familiar with WhatsApp, the app is so basic that you can pick it up in seconds. The message sending process is seamless and there is no loss of data between the phone and the web when both are active, nor is there any delay.
The interface has the familiar WhatsApp color scheme of green and a sort of off-white shade, so it will be familiar to any users - even if it is a touch stark. The left side panel displays your contacts, the middle shows the messages, and the optional right hand panel displays contact info. The design is well thought out as you have all the information you need at your fingertips. However, WhatsApp for PC doesn't include any customization options; for example you can’t change the background for different chats.
It’s worth remembering that this is a web app and not a desktop client. So, if you close your browser and clear your cookies, you must go through the whole process of signing up again using the QR code. WhatsApp is finally offering a desktop client, so if you want to download Whatsapp in your computer, download Whatsapp for PC.
Worth the wait?
WhatsApp users have been crying out for a web version for ages and finally the company has come through (although what took them so long when rivals Viber and Telegram achieved it ages ago, I don’t know). While WhatsApp Web doesn't come close to being as fully featured as the likes of Skype for desktops, those who regularly use the messaging app on their phone will still see a place for it in their lives. Let’s just hope it doesn't take WhatsApp quite as long to make it available for other browsers and iOS users.