It’s been a little over a year since WhatsApp rolled out WhatsApp Web and only six months since WhatsApp Web became available to iPhone users. Aught sixteen has been a busy and exciting year thus far for the Facebook owned WhatsApp; with the announcements that WhatsApp has surpassed the one billion active monthly users mark and the app is now free (no more pesky dollar yearly subscription fee), WhatsApp is at the top of the messaging service market.
Have you tried WhatsApp Web yet? Recently acquired a shiny new iPhone and want to sync your phone and your PC? Or perhaps you’re just curious of what’s going on in the WhatsApp world. Today, we will walk you thru acquiring a new WhatsApp account, downloading WhatsApp Web, and syncing across your multiple devices, as well as fill you in on the latest WhatsApp news.
Society cannot share a common communication system so long as it is split into warring factions. — Bertolt Brecht
WhatsApp Web for iPhone — Online Messenger
WhatsApp, in addition to sounding like the traditional greeting of one Bugs Bunny, is one of the big messaging apps out there in the market. It’s a bit more vanilla than some of the more gimmick based apps, like Snapchat, but it’s a solid messaging app. As was rare in such messaging services, WhatsApp had a subscription fee. This was both a blessing and a curse. A curse because it limits the number of people willing to use it, but it is a blessing in that this very same limitation means that the app was much less crowded. Really, it’s a matter of choosing an app for what you want to use it for: if you want something where you can find a lot of people, then maybe a paid app is a deal breaker for you. But if you find that most of the chatter on the free apps is just noise, this might be something to consider as a space for maintaining a higher quality of conversations. In any event, the subscription fee slowed their growth long enough to give them a chance to really shore up their infrastructure, so you can be sure that the app is a much more stable experience because of it.
And WhatsApp isn’t any fly by night. This is one of the more popular messaging apps out there, boasting some one billion active users according to some estimates. It was founded by former Yahoo employees in 2009, so in a way it’s building off of some of the oldest communities on the internet. And in October 2014, Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion, further solidifying WhatsApp’s strong support system and team.
Only slightly earlier this year, WhatsApp made big news, announcing that WhatsApp’s active user number had hit the one billion mark (and has surely slightly surpassed it by now). About the same time, Google announced Gmail had hit that same user mark. So WhatsApp and Gmail both boast over one billion users; I don’t know about y’all, but just knowing as many people are using WhatsApp as are using Gmail all over the world is kind of mind blowing. One seventh of the world is on WhatsApp… that’s a whole lot of messaging.
The other big news from earlier this month (February 2016): WhatsApp did away with its one dollar per year subscription fee. Previously, users were able to utilize WhatsApp for a full year for free, and then an annual fee kicked in. It was a small price to pay, and people certainly did (obviously, since they reached a billion users prior to doing away with the subscription fee). Or so it seemed on the surface. WhatsApp reported dropping the fee because a whole slew of users don’t actually possess bank accounts or credit/debit card numbers and were worried about losing their access after the first year. And as you know, losing access to a social media or messaging app is more than just a minor annoyance: Losing access means losing all of your histories, all of your friends — the entirety of the community that you’ve spent all that time building up.
But because WhatsApp is shifting to an entirely free model, don’t get too worried: WhatsApp was and is devoted to being an ad-free app, so it does have many wondering how WhatsApp will “make ends meet.” WhatsApp will explore in the near future working with businesses you’re already in contact with, like your bank or an airline about an upcoming flight. What hopefully won’t happen is sharing (or selling) of information with other companies that you are not already in cahoots with. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out but we won’t speculate too much; however, if this is the sort of quandary that floats your boat, I recommend this Forbes article.
Another bit of WhatsApp news: the number of users in a group chat has been increased from a hundred to 256, further proof suggesting the company is poised to turn its focus to businesses. So now instead of sending a message to your hundred closest friends (I’m sorry, you have a hundred close friends?), you can send it to even more — say, a hundred and three of your closest friends, and then 153 people who now regret giving you their contact info.
One final chunk of news that we’re pretty excited about is that WhatsApp Web now supports not only Chrome, but also Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge. Previously when it rolled out, WhatsApp Web was always only supported on the browser Chrome and users had to deal with workarounds (and you know we’re fans of workarounds, but even bigger fans of options); but now WhatsApp Web supports these three browsers.
So, those are the latest developments in the world of WhatsApp. Now, let’s talk about WhatsApp Web and your iPhone.
WhatsApp Web isn’t a separate service, it’s just a different way of accessing your WhatsApp account. It is perhaps the worst kept secret of social media that not everybody wants to be on their phones all the time. You know it, and I know it, but you know who doesn’t know it? Pretty much everybody who has ever released a messaging app! They think that once we’re home, we just want to stay on our phones all the time, despite us having some much better machinery that we would much rather be messaging on. Or else they think that we all live in Faraday cages, because we don’t want to communicate with anybody at all when we’re at home.
Well, WhatsApp knows that sometimes you don’t want to be on the phone, and they have made a web portal version of their wonderful messaging service. So, instead of having to download and install an emulator to virtualize WhatsApp on your phone, or else using a web-based emulator like ManyMo, you can instead go straight to the horse’s mouth and use the web platform, with no sketchy third-parties involved.
It works pretty simply: you point your browser to the WhatsApp Web webpage and you’ll be greeted with a QR code. You simply fire up your WhatsApp app on your smart phone (yay, you can do this with your iPhone now!) and then use the app to scan the QR code. Voila, your WhatsApp account is now paired with that browser. Now your phone has to stay online in order for this to work, but so long as your computer and phone are both online, you can now send WhatsApp messages from your browser.
I’m certain WhatsApp is busy working on Web and all the kinks and security that go into it (clearly, they are constantly at work to bring us the best possible messaging service because the fact that more web browsers are supported and it is available now for iOS users means WhatsApp hears the cries of the masses …heck, even the fact that there is a WhatsApp Web is evidence enough), but there are a few real drawbacks to the Web version. It does not support the full array of functions from the app. You cannot sign up for a WhatsApp account from the Web; you must have an account to scan the QR Code and access WhatsApp Web, so you’ll need to head over to the app to sign up for an account if you don’t already have one. Your phone is pretty much WhatsApp Web’s lifeline, so you won’t be saving any data or anything. You will simply experience the convenience of having your keyboard at your fingertips and downloading any pictures or attachments sent to you onto your PC.
This is how it works. This is how it has ever worked. But the tricky thing is that there was a cumbersome limitation for the longest time: you could use pretty much any smart phone out there on the market… except for an iPhone.
Until now, that is.
Apple has lifted the restrictions which previously kept iPhone users from being able to take advantage of WhatsApp Web. If you want to sync the web portal with your iPhone, you will need to have an iOS version of 8.1 or later. You will also need the version of WhatsApp installed on your iPhone to be the latest version. Finally, you also need to be using one of the following browsers on the desktop or laptop computer you’re trying to sync with:
- Safari (so Macs can use this right out of the box)
- Edge (This is the broom Microsoft is using to sweep Internet Explorer under the rug)
- or, the Internet’s little darling, Firefox.
If this is your technical set up, then you shouldn’t have any problem taking advantage of WhatsApp Web from your iPhone, using the steps we listed above.
What about our readers? Do you have a lot of call to use WhatsApp Web? What are your thoughts on Apple finally allowing users to take advantage of this great little workaround? Please let us know what you think down in the comments.