Friends, Eggheads, People of the Internet, lend me your… eyes? Okay, that didn’t go quite as planned, but then again, I’m no Shakespeare. What’s up?! Y’all know we are big fans of WhatsApp (so are nearly 1 billion other people in the world). If you’re a regular reader, you may also have noticed we are big fans on using emulators to run your favorite apps on your PC; from Kik to Tinder, we believe you should have the ability to choose on which device you use the apps you enjoy most.
And WhatsApp is no exception. But, hold the phone! WhatsApp has heard the cries of the people. WhatsApp introduced the world to WhatsApp Web in early 2015 and the world rejoiced verily. No longer must we run WhatsApp thru Bluestacks or Andyroid…well, some of you may have to use an emulator still, but we’ll discuss all of the options and requirements for getting WhatsApp on your PC, desktop, laptop or tablet, whether by the new WhatsApp Web or downloading WhatsApp on PC thru an emulator. Either way, you’ll have the option of how you enjoy your next WhatsApp experience.
An escalator can never break: it can only become stairs. You should never see an Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order sign, just Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience. —Mitch Hedberg
Introducing WhatsApp Web
Dig it: WhatsApp Web is this great way of connecting to WhatsApp on your PC (whether Mac or Windows desktop or what have you). It’s not even a year old, but it’s going pretty well and we know it’s something that users can really get behind because users from every corner of the web (does it have corners? or is it spherical? it certainly is mysterious) have long searched for ways to run their favorite apps on their PCs. So we say huzzah! for one of the developers actually listening (and come on, how could you not listen) to the pleas of the customers. So, allow us, if you are not already aware, to introduce y’all to WhatsApp Web. But first, a little bit about WhatsApp and why we love it so much.
WhatsApp (with that)?
First off, we have to show you this video: it’s from a Saturday Night Live sketch starring Keenan Thompson as a host of a show called “What Up With That?” and every time we write about WhatsApp, we sing the song in the video. So enjoy that. And we hope the song is in your head for the remainder of the article. And the day.
Anywho, for those unfamiliar with the wildly popular messaging app WhatsApp, or perhaps you’ve heard tale and are intrigued, let us give you the rundown: WhatsApp was started in 2009 and gained a steady following over the first year. Unlike a lot of the new messaging apps that flood the various app stores, WhatsApp is not free. In fact, itactually became a paid app early on just to not gain too many followers too quickly. And it has totally worked. What makes WhatsApp so great and a step above the rest is that it is available for so many different phones (and users from all of those various phones can message each other) AND it uses the internet to send messages. Users can send text messages, make phone calls, send videos and images. The first year is free and after that it’s only $0.99 per year. Another great feature of WhatsApp is the founders are über-leery of the invasive code that a lot of advertisers demand, and as a result actively avoid selling advertising space and using advertisements in their app.
In 2014, Facebook purchased WhatsApp for 19 billion smackeroonies (it’s a technical term) so it only makes sense that to appeal to all those users, Facebook would give a green light to expand the app to a web-based, PC-friendly version. If you’re not a WhatsApp user yet, what are you waiting for? Head over to your respective app store and start your free year-long trial. All you need to sign up is a name and phone number. Now, let’s talk about that whole PC option, WhatsApp Web.
WhatsApp Web — Huzzah!
See, as stated earlier, we say huzzah! for the development of WhatsApp Web. So, here’s the deal with it. It is NOT a separate account, it is still your same WhatsApp account. It simply links what you do in the app on your phone to what you can do on your computer. According to the WhatsApp Web FAQs, it’s a “computer based extension of the WhatsApp account on your phone.” So you can see and send messages from both devices. Bottom line: it’s another great way to use your favorite chatting app. There are a few minimum requirements:
- You must already have an working WhatsApp account on your phone.
- You’ve got to have a working and stable internet connection for both devices.
- You’ll want to use one of the following web browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Opera or Safari. These are the browsers that best support WhatsApp Web and be sure whatever browser you choose, it’s the latest greatest version.
It is also imperative that you have the latest version of WhatsApp on your phone. To download WhatsApp Web, follow this link on your computer. Open WhatsApp on your phone. The instructions for the various phones is right there on the page (like iPhone go to Settings, Android go to Menu, etc.). And then scan the QR code from the webpage on your computer using your phone. And BAM! WhatsApp on your PC! No Andyroid or Bluestacks required!
*Note: It is VERY important that you stay connected to the internet to avoid data usage and overage charges. Also, how well the app runs on your PC will depend on how fast your internet connection is.
And that’s how you can now run WhatsApp on your PC without an emulator! You even have option to turn on desktop notifications. And have the full support and blessings of the developer. When you’re ready to logout, you’ll need to tap “logout from all computers” on your mobile device.
Now, if WhatsApp Web is the definitive WhatsApp for your PC now, why would you ever want to use Bluestacks or Andyroid again? Well, it’s not so much of a want as it is a need. WhatsApp Web doesn’t work with all phones or with all operating systems. It will work with all Android devices, but it will only work with iPhones running 8.1 or later. (If you’ve been holding out on upgrading your iOS because you have an older phone and are pretty sure it won’t be able to run the upgrade, you’re out of luck without this trick.) Similarly, if you use a Windows phone, it won’t work on Windows phone 7 (only 8), and only a narrow selection of Nokia or Blackberry devices.
So, if you’re not using one of the above phones or OSs (or combinations therein), you won’t be able to take advantage of WhatsApp Web. In that case, you’ll want to fall back on a reliable Android emulator.
I say Android emulator because Apple is much more closed-lid with their operating system (it’s part of how they maintain the security of their devices), and so it’s a lot harder to find a decent, reliable iOS emulator. (By “reliable” I mean both “works consistently” and “won’t turn your device into Swiss cheese”.) Of course, if you have an iOS emulator you really like, please feel free to mention it in the comments (I’m always happy to try a new one out) but for my money, a decent Android emulator is where it’s at.
For this discussion, I’ll talk you through using Andyroid, although there are numerous Android emulators out there. Feel free to find one you like.
Now, the drawback of using an Android emulator over iOS is that people who use iOS products exclusively (thus taking advantage of all that sweet, sweet product integration) aren’t going to have the Google Play account necessary to really use a good emulator. If that’s the case there is a workaround:
- Sign up for Google Play. (Yes, it’s that easy)
- Google Play will require you to sign in on an Android device, in order to verify the account. To accomplish this, find a willing friend who would let you sign in with his or her phone, and then immediately sign out. Even with immediately signing out, this should be enough for Google Play to recognize the account.
With that done, head over to the Andyroid website and download and install the emulator.
When you fire up Andyroid for the first time, it will give you the option to choose what sort of Android device you want to emulate. I’d go for one with a big screen — something close to the size and shape of the monitor you’re working with.’
Now, from the Google Play store, download the WhatsApp .apk file.
In your emulator, once you’ve signed into the Google Play account from the virtual Android device, you’ll upload the .apk file into this emulated space.
Congratulations, you’ve just installed some real software on an imaginary phone. Take a moment to enjoy the existential oddity of this situation.
This will allow you to work with WhatsApp exactly as you would on a phone, and should have full functionality.
So, even though WhatsApp Web is the preferred way to access your WhatsApp account from a non-mobile device, there are still methods in place for you if your device does not meet the necessary specs.
If you would like to know more about anything we’ve covered here, or if you know a trick that we don’t, let’s get a conversation started in the comments.
Even if it’s just to ask “What’s up with that!”