The popular messaging service WhatsApp is expanding its chat empire beyond mobile. The Facebook-acquired application is making its browser-based debut with WhatsApp Web. But don’t get too excited just yet—this app isn’t for everybody.
Usually when a service is built for the Web, it is done with the expectation of making it more accessible. WhatsApp’s move to a Web app is limited in which portion of its 700 million active users can use it. If you’re a WhatsApp user with an Android, Windows Phone, or BlackBerry device, you will be able to access your messages via the Google Chrome-compatible Web app.
WhatsApp Web mirrors conversations from the mobile client, serving as an extension of the phone app itself. All communication done through WhatsApp continues to live on the phone.
For iOS users, there will be no browser-based accessibility. WhatsApp cites “Apple platform limitations” as the reason for the exclusion, though no further details were provided. WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum has previously taken shots at Apple for what he perceived to be the company borrowing features from Koum’s app. No mention was made for future iOS compatibility, so Apple loyalists will have to take solace in iMessage’s cross-platform sync.
For those who can access WhatsApp Web, the process to connect will require visiting the Web app in Google Chrome. A QR code will appear and users will have to scan the code in WhatsApp with their phone’s camera. The process will pair the mobile and Web clients.
Users will have to make sure their phones remain connected to the Internet for the Web client to work—if your phone dies or loses connection, the Web app goes down with it.
Photo by Yatuka Tutsano/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III