WhatsApp has announced that users will now be able to access its hugely popular instant messaging app in desktop-based Internet browsers for the first time.

The company made the announcement on a blog posting. But there was disappointment for users of iOS devices due to what the company called “Apple platform limitations.”

Desktop Access

WhatsApp currently has some 700 million monthly active users. Until now users have been limited to mobile platforms, as iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, and Nokia.

But following today’s announcement, the service can now be used on Windows desktop computers, allowing them to type out their messages much quicker on a full size keyboard than on a smartphone. The new format should also make it be easier for users to save images and videos on their computers, rather than their mobile device where space is more limited.

So how does it work? Well, WhatsApp users can link their mobile phones with a WhatsApp Web client. This allows them to write and read messages via their computers.

WhatsApp users have to visit Web.WhatsApp.com via Google’s Chrome browser on their computers, where a QR code will appear. Use your smartphone camera to take a picture of the QR code to pair WhatsApp on your phone with the WhatsApp web client.

“Your phone needs to stay connected to the internet for our web client to work, and please make sure to install the latest version of WhatsApp on your phone,” it said.

“Our web client is simply an extension of your phone: the web browser mirrors conversations and messages from your mobile device – this means all of your messages still live on your phone,” the company said.

But it should be noted that the WhatsApp web client is not available for iPhone and iPad users, because of limitations associated with Apple’s iOS platform.

“Unfortunately for now, we will not be able to provide web client to our iOS users due to Apple platform limitations,” said the company.

Encryption Argument

Last February Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19bn (£12.6bn), and the social networking giant is known to be seeking ways to make money from the IM service.

Last November, WhatsApp announced that the Android version now comes equipped with end-to-end encryption, which should prevent any outside spying on the communications.

The British government said recently that it wants powers to allow spies to access the content of encrypted communications in fight against terror.

What do you know about Internet security? Find out with our quiz!

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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