WhatsApp has been working on multi-device support for its platform for quite some time. We have seen reports about its development that date back to 2019. However, the wait for multi-device support on WhatsApp has finally come to an end as the company has started rolling out the feature to a limited number of beta testers today. So, it won’t be long before the messaging giant rolls out multi-device support to the public.
Now, for those unaware, WhatsApp’s multi-device support will essentially eliminate the need to keep a smartphone always connected to the internet to use WhatsApp on a desktop or any other device. In a June interview, we saw WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg detail the challenges of developing multi-device support for the messaging platform.
Today, Cathcart shared a detailed blog post, further explaining the feature’s intricacies. Along with this, he also announced that a small number of existing beta testers would get access to the multi-device support on WhatsApp, starting today.
How Does it Work?
The multi-device support on WhatsApp allows users to link up to four additional, non-phone devices to their accounts to access chats, voice, and video calls on WhatsApp Web/ Desktop without their primary smartphone connected to the internet. So, once the feature is enabled, you will be able to use WhatsApp on individual devices, even when your phone is not connected to the internet or is switched off.
In the blog post, Cathcart says that the company had to rethink the platform’s current architecture to enable multi-device support. While the current architecture uses your smartphone as a source device to allow users to access WhatsApp on the web or any other platform, the new architecture eliminates this. Instead, it delivers a seamless synchronized experience between multiple devices “without compromising on security”.
So, the new architecture for WhatsApp’s multi-device support uses a client-fanout approach. In this process, the WhatsApp client sending a message encrypts it N number of times to N number of different devices that are stored in the sender’s and receiver’s device list. Each message is individually encrypted. This ensures a secure messaging experience via WhatsApp on any compatible device without requiring a smartphone.
Cathcart further explained the various other challenges that the company had to overcome to develop the much-awaited WhatsApp multi-device feature. You can check out the full, in-depth blog post to get more information.
As for availability, the multi-device support for WhatsApp is initially available to only a limited number of beta testers. So, if you are enrolled in WhatsApp’s beta program – be it one Android and iOS – and are lucky enough to access the feature, you will see a new “Multi-device beta” option under WhatsApp Web or Linked devices settings page.
Moreover, when you use WhatsApp Web or the desktop app on your PC for the first time after the feature is enabled, you will see a new beta tag on the desktop client. However, it is worth mentioning that if you want to send messages to any of your contacts via the web or desktop app without an internet connection, then you have to make sure that they are running the latest version of WhatsApp on their devices.
With that said, the multi-device feature is still under development and far from ready for stable rollout. The company will continue to develop it further, optimize the performance, and add more features before rolling it out to the public in the coming days.