WhatsApp announced today that it has launched a native desktop app that’s available for both Windows and Mac. The Facebook-owned company said that the app supports desktop notifications, better keyboard shortcuts, and more. All messages are synced with WhatsApp’s mobile devices, as well.
Earlier this week, leaked screenshots indicated that a desktop app was going to be released soon, one that would allow you to send messages to friends and share files, all from your PC.
This new tool makes the service more accessible and is likely aimed at helping to accelerate growth. WhatsApp already counts more than 1 billion monthly active users, but that number could soon be surpassed by its messaging cousin at Facebook.
WhatsApp’s desktop app works on computers with MacOS X 10.9 and Windows 8, or higher. After installing the app, you’ll have to scan a QR code using the WhatsApp app on your mobile device — the feature will be located under “Settings” > “WhatsApp Web.” If the QR code is recognized, you’ll be authenticated on the desktop. WhatsApp for desktop connects to your phone to sync messages, so potentially quite a bit of data will be transmitted, depending on usage, of course. The company advises that you connect your phone to Wi-Fi.
The desktop app is essentially the same as the mobile version, particularly the one that launched in August: You can find your contacts and attach emojis and files to your messages. Voice dictation is supported, as well.
This new app is being released as the company faces continued legal issues within Brazil over access to user data. A judge in the country has already suspended the service twice, and even ordered the imprisonment of a Facebook executive, over the company’s refusal to cooperate with government demands to access WhatsApp’s encrypted messaging service as part of a drug trafficking investigation.
A desktop app will certainly make communicating with loved ones, friends, and business associates easier, especially as your messages will now be synced. It also puts WhatsApp more on par with competitors like Facebook Messenger, Skype, and Telegram.