WhatsApp is now available as a desktop app for Windows and OS X, the company announced in a blog post on Tuesday evening. It looks the same as WhatsApp Web, and does exactly what you've come to expect from its browser-based counterpart.
"Like WhatsApp Web, our desktop app is simply an extension of your phone: the app mirrors conversations and messages from your mobile device," the company said.
That means you still need to have your phone around to log onto the desktop app. Once you've downloaded the new client, it opens up to show the same screen from web.whatsapp.com. You need to scan the QR code displayed on the screen with your phone before you're let through.
Quite frankly, it's bewildering. WhatsApp's biggest competitor - Facebook Messenger - owned incidentally by its parent company, has a much better Web interface and even a native Windows 10 app.
For what's it worth, the new app - essentially a Node-Webkit wrapper - comes with a few keyboard shortcuts, and does have low memory consumption. On Windows, you can archive a chat by pressing Ctrl + E, mute it with Ctrl + Shift + M, change the read status of message with Ctrl + Shift + U and delete it with Ctrl + Backspace. Press Ctrl + F and you'll be taken directly to the search bar, while Ctrl + N and Ctrl + Shift + N help in starting a new chat or group respectively. On Mac, the shortcuts remain the same except you'll need to replace Ctrl with the Command key.
But it does have some quirks. While the Web version of WhatsApp works on any browser across all operating systems, the native app is limited to Windows 8 64-bit and newer, Mac OS X 10.9 and newer. Roughly 45 percent of the desktop world still works on Windows 7, so it's anybody's guess what the WhatsApp team was thinking.
The good thing about a native app - if you're on Windows 8.1/ 10 - is that the notifications will now appear in the "Action Centre", the right-hand side panel that integrates all notifications and quick access for certain settings.
But if like most people in the world you're usually juggling multiple messaging services such as Facebook Messenger, Skype, Slack, WhatsApp and the like, you're better off using a messaging tool that combines everything into one app, and works on a more diverse lists of desktop OSes. One such option is Franz.
It would be great if WhatsApp could bring voice calls to its new desktop client, and make it independent of your mobile device. But for now, WhatsApp for desktop offers little for its 1 billion+ users.