tech

Explained: This is WhatsApp's biggest feature of the year

WhatsApp is planning to bring a new multi-device support feature to its platform. This feature will allow users to access the same WhatsApp account from multiple devices.

WhatsApp rolled out dark mode feature earlier this year.
WhatsApp rolled out dark mode feature earlier this year. (REUTERS)

WhatsApp has added a host of new and critical features to its platform this year. First came the dark mode. Then, WhatsApp, responding to a sudden surge in video calling functionality owing to the Covid-19 lockdown, increased its group calling limit from eight participants to eight participants. And more recently, the company introduced animated stickers feature and QR Codes on its platform.

With these features already available in the company’s main app one might think that WhatsApp was done rolling out new features to its app this year. But it’s not. While the company is working on many features, which includes an advanced search mode and design optimisations in the dark mode among others, one feature stands out among them: multi-device support.

Now, the multi-device support isn’t exactly a new feature. We first heard about it late last year. The feature popped up on our radar again earlier this year and then again earlier this week. Needless to say that the company is making its small strides in building and perfecting this feature before a wider roll out.

One obvious question that arises here is what is the multi-device support feature? Well, to give you a quick brief, the upcoming multi-device support feature allows WhatsApp users to access their accounts from various devices. As of now, users can access their WhatsApp accounts only from one additional device other than their smartphones. If they try to access their accounts from a second device, they are logged off from the first one. Multi-device support feature changes that.

Till recently, not much information was available regarding this feature. But now, a report by WABetaInfo says that Facebook is planning to include support for up to four devices, including Portal, its desktop app and WhatsApp Web, in this feature. This of course may change before the feature is ready to ship.

The latest report also answers the biggest question about this feature: how this functionality will work? As per the report of the blog site, which tracks the developments in the app extensively, WhatsApp is planning to include a new option called ‘Linked Devices’ in the app’s hamburger menu between Starred Messages and New Broadcasts option. On tapping on this option, WhatsApp users will be directed to a screen where they will get the option of linking a new device. This can be done simply by tapping the ‘Link a new Device’ option. A separate report by the blog site says that WhatsApp will use a combination of phone number and SMS code for the verification process.

Apart from linking a new device, users will also be able to remove their existing linked devices. The company will offer users ‘Log Out’ and ‘Close’ options to the users when they click on one of the linked devices. Clicking on the Log Out option will help the user to log off from the mentioned device.

This feature is available in the WhatsApp Beta for Android version 2.20.196.8 of the app. The company hasn’t rolled out this feature in its main app yet but if you are a beta user, you can get your hands on this feature by downloading the mentioned version of the app on your smartphone.