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WhatsApp lands on desktop, though iOS users are left out in cold

WhatsApp has just launched a desktop version of its popular messaging app, so you can now use your computer as well as your mobile device to chat with friends.

The move makes the messaging service even more accessible, offering millions of its users the chance to communicate across a wider range of devices.

It’s not, however, as straightforward as you might expect. First, you can only run it on Google Chrome, and second, to connect the browser to your WhatsApp client, you need to scan the QR code showing on this page.

On top of that, your handset needs to stay connected to the Internet for the Web client to work, and “please make sure to install the latest version of WhatsApp on your phone,” the startup says in a blog post announcing the new Web version of its service.

Oh, and one more thing – iOS users can’t use the Web client “due to Apple platform limitations,” though there’s no word on whether it’s working to try to resolve the situation.

Once you’re all done, the desktop browser will mirror the conversations and messages on your mobile device.

WhatsApp Plus lockout

In other WhatsApp news Wednesday, it was revealed the company had started locking out users trying to access its service  via third-party app WhatsApp Plus. The lockout, which reportedly lasts 24 hours, is designed to discourage WhatsApp members from using such unofficial software. WhatsApp Plus offers users several features not found on the official app, but WhatsApp is apparently concerned use of such software could lead to security breaches, possibly similar to one that hit Snapchat last year.

A WhatsApp spokesman said the company’s goal is to “keep WhatsApp fast and secure for the people who use it – it’s the most important thing we do.” He added that starting this week “we are taking aggressive action against unauthorised apps and alerting the people who use them.”

With a user base of 700 million, cross-platform WhatsApp is currently the world’s most popular social messaging app. Last year Facebook acquired the business for a colossal $19 billion, though as the startup famously shuns advertising on its messaging product, revenue for the first half of last year came in at only $16 million. Income is generated via a one-dollar annual subscription fee that’s charged after a year’s free use.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to monetize WhatsApp, however, saying back in October that “products don’t really get that interesting to turn into businesses until they have about one billion people using them.” Once that happens, we should get a clearer idea of what the social networking giant has in store for WhatsApp regarding a monetization strategy.