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what it is, how it works and everything you need to know

22 mayo, 2021

After a long wait in which many of his competitors have been ahead of him, WhatsApp has finally released its application to chat from the web. Therefore, now we can use WhatsApp from any computer regardless of its operating system, or at least that is how it should have been.

And it is that this launch has not been without controversy. First of all, the only browser with which the application is compatible is Chrome, then we will explain why. What’s more, iOS users will also not be able to use this web app no matter how much they use the Google browser, and this is something that does not seem to be changing anytime soon.

How does it work?

Whatsapp Web

When we access the WhatsApp Web page, it will show us a QR code to which we will have to point with the camera of our mobile using the “WhatsApp Web” option implemented in the mobile application after its last update. Once this is done, the web will automatically synchronize with our device via WiFi or our data connection.

The connection to the WhatsApp servers is not made from the website, but directly from the mobile that we have synchronized to it. In this way, we are downloading all conversations and images that we handle from the server and uploading them to the web directly from our mobile phone, so if it fails we will not be able to use the service.

This indicates that what WhatsApp web offers is not an instant messaging client in the cloud like the one offered by large competitors such as Telegram, but a direct access to the application of our mobile phone, and that it depends on it at all times in order to function. Time will tell if this decision has been successful or if they have missed an opportunity to catch up with what the competition offers.

Use experience

Screenshot 2015 01 22 110 141

During our tests we have been able to verify that this web application is limited to the fact that we can send and receive text, voice and picture messages, and has not included other key options such as being able to send video files or share contacts and our location, something that taking into account that all contact is made through our mobile phone should not have been very complicated to implement.

The interface is quite similar to that of the mobile application, having on the left a column with the list of our conversations and on the right the content of these. Browsing through the options in the contact column we have realized that many of those included in the web version are missing, since our profile cannot be started and we have not found a way to create conversation groups.

If we add a new contact on our mobile phone while we have the web open, when trying to open a new conversation with that person will not appear on the list, so we will have to start it from the mobile phone or after restarting our browser. If we choose to start the conversation from the phone, the data of that contact such as the name or the avatar will not appear until after restarting Chrome, and in the case of the avatar it is possible that not even with those.

In the options referring to each of the conversations there are also great absences, such as the possibility to change the background image, see the files that we have shared in the conversation, search for specific words in the log, empty the conversation window or the possibility of blocking the user with whom we are speaking.

Fortunately, the functions that the web application does include they do not give any kind of problem. Notifications are perfectly displayed on the PC, messages arrive in real time and images and audio are shared without any problem. In fact, the images can even be enlarged, something always very welcome. By showing we can even see when someone is writing something before the text and the famous blue double check appear.

Why can’t iOS use it?

The fact that iOS users cannot use this service has to do with the way in which Apple’s mobile operating system handles applications in the background, since it does not allow or allow them to maintain an open connection to a server, nor do they accept incoming connections from the browser.

“Unfortunately, for now we will not be able to offer the web client to iOS users due to limitations of the Apple platform” – Jan Koum

In this way, the only way that the current WhatsApp Web application could work on iOS would be for Apple to decide to change the way iOS handles its apps in the background. It is quite difficult for those from Cupertino to change anything for a single application, so it does not seem that Apple mobile users will be able to use this website in the short or medium term.

Why is it only compatible with Chrome?

Google Chrome

The reason why at the moment Google Chrome is the only browser compatible with WhatsApp Web is simpler, since at the moment it is the one that best supports WebRTC, a standard developed by the World Wide Consortium for browsers to be able to maintain communications in real time, which is vital for WhatsApp Web to function properly.

Fortunately, this problem does seem like it could be solved in the medium term. And it is the logical thing to think that WhatsApp began to lift the blocks to other browsers as they improve their WebRTC implementation, and therefore guaranteeing that they will be able to use your web application without any problem.

In Genbeta | The web version of WhatsApp, now available