Unlike some other messaging services, WhatsApp ties the user’s identity to their phone number.
While this makes it easy for people to find you, it does have one major downside: using the same WhatsApp account across multiple devices is damn hard.
Fortunately, that’s about to change. The latest WhatsApp beta for Android (version 184.108.40.206) allows users to pair their number with a secondary phone, making life easier for those who carry work and personal devices.
How it works
Spotted by WABetaInfo, this functionality works much like WhatsApp Desktop. To link your account with another device, you only need to scan a QR code.
And, like WhatsApp Desktop, the main device doesn’t need an Internet connection — or even power.
So, if your personal phone is about to run out of power, you could conceivably switch your WhatsApp account to your work phone without having to swap SIMs.
The beta allows users to link their accounts with four other devices. At the time of writing, it’s unclear whether this figure also includes PCs.
I can imagine this feature proving useful for small businesses that rely on WhatsApp to field customer inquiries.
Rather than pass the same mobile device between employees, businesses can simply share the WhatsApp account between multiple devices, ideally resulting in more efficient customer service.
In fairness, this functionality was previously possible using third-party services like Tyntec. But soon, it’ll be a native WhatsApp feature.
A push for tablets
Android Police notes the latest WhatsApp beta contains references to a yet-unreleased version of the messaging app for Android tablets.
This represents a welcome change for the messaging platform, which has largely ignored tablet devices. For instance, the company still doesn’t have an iPad app, although that may soon change.
In an interview with The Verge published in July, Will Cathcard, Head of WhatsApp, said the company would “love” to release an iPad app.
The barrier, he explained, was the app’s previous reliance on the user’s smartphone. This acted as a single-point-of-failure. If the smartphone lost power or connectivity, WhatsApp would cease working elsewhere.
The company cleared that hurdle in November 2021, making it possible to seamlessly roll out the service to other non-smartphone form factors.
Getting the latest WhatsApp beta
The latest WhatsApp beta is only available to a handful of pre-approved testers.
At the time of writing, this program is full. It’s unclear whether the company will open it to more people. Nor is it known when the feature will see a proper general release.
Unless you’re one of the lucky few, you’ll have to wait. Patience is a virtue.
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