Facebook announces limited public beta for WhatsApp’s phone-less multi device capability

The Holy Grail WhatsApp users have been waiting for is almost here. Almost. Today Facebook announced a limited public beta of WhatsApp’s new phone-less multi device functionality, and you can enroll by following the procedure described on this page. You need to be on the latest beta version of WhatsApp for Android or iOS.

The new beta seems to be limited to only some markets, but the company hasn’t mentioned exactly which, so if you’re interested try and see if it works for you. It may not because you’re not in an eligible country.

Facebook announces limited public beta for WhatsApp's phone-less multi device capabilityThere are a bunch of things that aren’t going to be working yet, here’s the list:

• Viewing live location on companion devices

• Pinning chats on WhatsApp Web or Desktop

• Joining, viewing, and resetting group invites from WhatsApp Web and Desktop. You’ll need to use your phone instead

• Messaging or calling someone who is using a very old version of WhatsApp on their phone won’t work from your linked device

• Calling from Portal or WhatsApp Desktop to linked devices that aren’t enrolled in the multi-device beta

• Other WhatsApp accounts on your Portal won’t work unless those accounts have joined the multi-device beta

• WhatsApp Business users can’t edit their business name or labels from WhatsApp Web or Desktop

So far, if you wanted to use WhatsApp on a device different from your phone, the handset still needed to be connected to the internet, as everything was pinged back and forth through it. With the new functionality, you can use WhatsApp on up to four nonphone devices even if your handset’s battery is dead.

Facebook announces limited public beta for WhatsApp's phone-less multi device capabilityYes, you read that correctly – nonphone – so you still can’t use the same WhatsApp account on more than one phone. Each companion device will connect to your WhatsApp independently while maintaining the same level of privacy and security through end-to-end encryption (E2EE). E2EE is maintained even while syncing your data such as contact names, chat archives, starred messages, and more.

Facebook announces limited public beta for WhatsApp's phone-less multi device capabilityAs you may imagine, achieving this was quite complicated, and it required a rethink of WhatsApp’s architecture. If you’re interested in how Facebook’s engineers pulled it off, make sure you visit the Source linked below, which contains a lengthy explainer.


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