Skip to main content

WhatsApp is fixing one of its most annoying features

Any WhatsApp user can tell you that one of their biggest frustrations with the app is the extent it is tied to your phone. Until now, any time you set up a WhatsApp account, even if it’s on a desktop or iPad, you’re essentially still routing everything through your phone, preventing you from operating multiple independent secondary devices.

That’s all changing with WhatsApp’s new public beta. The rollout is limited, but it brings multi-device capability to the table, letting you use WhatsApp on your phone and up to four other non-phone devices at the same time. And the key part — this works even if your phone battery is dead because each device is connected to WhatsApp independently. This allows you to make a video call on one device while still browsing on your phone or checking your messages on a PC.

WhatsApp legacy architecture showing single device encryption.
Facebook Engineering Blog

But the real technical wizardry is how WhatsApp has addressed the security issues that crop up when introducing multiple devices. One of the big selling points of WhatsApp, together with others like Signal and Telegram, is complete end-to-end encryption. Like the other services, WhatsApp previously worked by using a single identity key for all encrypted communications.

Introducing multiple devices complicates that, but WhatsApp has found a clever way to address it by introducing identity keys for each device. A combination of extended security codes and Automatic Device Verification means that devices can automatically establish trust between each other. So the only time you need to compare security codes is if the entire account gets reregistered, rather than just linking a new device to the account.

WhatsApp multi-device new feature encryption.
Facebook Engineering Blog

The image (above) sheds some light on the changes when it comes to message privacy. Each message gets individually encrypted, and messages aren’t stored in the server after they’re delivered. That said, these changes, while welcome, still fall short of Telegram, which lets you use the app on all your devices at the same time and seamlessly sync messages across any number of phones, tablets, and computers.

WhatsApp will just work with up to four non-phone devices, but it’s still a big step up in addressing one of people’s biggest complaints about the app. This feature will be tested with a small group of users from WhatsApp’s existing beta program for the time being, before rolling out to everyone else more slowly.

Editors' Recommendations

Ajay Kumar
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ajay Kumar is the Section Editor, Mobile overseeing Digital Trend's coverage of phones, tablets, wearables, and other mobile…
WhatsApp just upgraded its emoji reactions and I want them now
Close up of WhatsApp icon as seen on a smartphone display. Credits: WhatsApp official.

WhatsApp will now allow users to react to messages with any emoji, in an expansion of its reaction feature that came out last year. It's coming to iOS and Android over the coming weeks, and it brings more personalization to one of the world's most used messaging apps.

Once you get the update, the emoji reactions will work as they do now, with a long press bringing up the basic six options with the incision of a new plus button. Pressing that plus icon will show you the new expanded set of emojis, and you'll be able to add whatever emoji you want. This includes skin tone variations, family types, and more.

Read more
You can finally move your WhatsApp chats from Android to iOS
WhatsApp and Telegram app icons.

Moving WhatsApp chats from Android to iOS has been a painful task for years. But not anymore, as Apple and WhatsApp have made the process a whole lot easier. Starting today, Apple is adding a feature that allows you to move chats between the two platforms. The feature is a part of Apple’s existing “Move to iOS” Android application. It’s worth noting that the feature is currently available for beta users only, so non-beta users might have to wait for a week or two as it's rolled out in phases.

This is a big move since 2 million people use WhatsApp and, until now, there wasn’t an official method to move conversations between Android and iOS. There have been third-party solutions here and there, but nothing officially backed by Apple or WhatsApp. With the feature becoming available, users will be able to move their chats swiftly from Android to iOS.

Read more
Facebook Messenger app adds calling, following WhatsApp’s lead
Facebook Messenger app with calling

Meta, Facebook's parent company, is rolling out the Calls tab to the Facebook Messenger app on Android and iOS. The move takes a page out of WhatsApp's playbook, making audio and video calls with friends and family a lot easier for Messenger users.

Not every Messenger user will see the Calls tab in the app immediately. But the lucky users who do will find it located between the Chats and People tabs on the lower bar on the app's screen.

Read more