WhatsApp tests multi-device support that works without a phone – TechCrunch
WhatsApp finally offers an improvement on a key feature that even the Facebook-owned instant messaging service has recognized as a major user demand for years.
On Wednesday, WhatsApp announced that it is rolling out a limited public beta test for its enhanced cross-device capabilities.
The update allows first-time WhatsApp users to use the service on up to four non-phone devices without the registered phone being turned on or otherwise connected to the internet. A spokesperson for WhatsApp told TechCrunch that this chain of multiple devices cannot contain another phone.
“Each companion device will connect to your WhatsApp independently,” the messaging app said. in a post.
To be clear, WhatsApp, which is used by over 2 billion users worldwide, already supports the use of multiple devices. A user can simultaneously access the service, for example, from a web browser or a desktop application on their computer. But the multi-device support stream currently requires the phone to be connected to the internet.
In WhatsApp’s own words:
“By forcing the phone to perform all operations, paired devices are slower and frequently disconnected, especially when the phone has a bad connection, low battery, or the application process is interrupted by the system. phone operation. It also allows only one companion device to be up and running at a time, which means people cannot be on a call in Portal while checking their messages on their PC, for example.
WhatsApp’s new multi-device architecture removes these barriers, no longer requiring a smartphone to be the source of truth while keeping user data synchronized and private in a transparent and secure manner.
In one white paper published today (PDF), WhatsApp described how this feature works, which gives an overview of why the delivery took so long.
The company claims to have developed new technologies that ensure that even across multiple devices, messages sync while maintaining end-to-end encryption, a feat currently rare in the market.
“To achieve this, we had to redesign the architecture of WhatsApp and design new systems to enable a stand-alone multi-device experience while maintaining end-to-end privacy and encryption,” the company wrote. “Each message is individually encrypted using the paired encryption session established with each device. Messages are not stored on the server after delivery.
The feature also doesn’t change the way WhatsApp uses cloud backups for users, a spokesperson said. “The mechanism we use to sync messages and other app data on a user’s devices is independent of our cloud backups,” the spokesperson added, pointing to the white paper that describes the protocol more in detail.
WhatsApp does not have a specific date for the deployment of this feature to all users. Instead, the company told us that it is initially rolling out this feature to its existing beta users. Over the next few months, it plans to start adding it as an activation beta feature for a small number of users on stable versions of the app.
The aforementioned feature is one of many that WhatsApp is currently developing. WhatsApp is working on a dedicated app for the iPad and is expanding the disappearance mode feature from last year. The app, which currently allows users to set a seven-day timer on messages, plans to expand this feature to allow users to share images and videos that can only be viewed once.