The world’s favourite messaging service WhatsApp has spent much of this year adding new features (partly, we think, to make up for the disaster that was its revised Terms of Service). One of those features is the ability to use the app on more than one device, while keeping it connected to just one phone number. That feature is now in private beta.
Which, obviously, means you can’t use it yet. But it does give us an opportunity to try before we buy, so to speak. The feature and how it will work has been detailed by the parent company Facebook for the beta.
More than one WhatsApp
Long story short, you will soon be able to use the app on your main device — a phone — and up to four other devices at the same time. Your (main) phone won’t even need to be on for the other devices to function, as they’ll operate independently — the result of the company rethinking “…WhatsApp’s architecture and design[ing] new systems to enable a standalone multi-device experience while preserving privacy and end-to-end encryption.”
Facebook gets quite technical, so if you want to get the full rundown then go and read their very detailed post explaining everything. Basically, the app needs to remove the smartphone as the centrepiece of security. The phone used to host the key, and the desktop version of WhatsApp needed to get that key from the device itself. That key will now be handled by specific devices rather than having to run through your main device.
The old method led to limitations — like only having a single extra device working at a time. But, says Facebook, “The new WhatsApp multi-device architecture removes these hurdles, no longer requiring a smartphone to be the source of truth while still keeping user data seamlessly and securely synchronized and private.”
But, as we’ve said, the feature is still in beta. There’s work to be done with testers before it’s allowed out into the wider world. The last thing Facebook needs is a massive data leak caused by not paying WhatsApps’ security enough attention, something the social media company seems to be acutely aware of this time around.