WhatsApp is finally looking for a way to improve an important feature that even the instant messaging service Facebook has been craving for users for years. On Wednesday, WhatsApp announced that it was rolling out a limited public beta test of its performance improvements for multiple devices.
The update allows WhatsApp users to use the service on up to four non-phone devices. It will be allowed for the first time without a registered phone connected or connected to the Internet. According to a WhatsApp representative, this multi-device chain could not contain another phone.
“Each companion device connects independently to your WhatsApp,” says the message from the messaging app.
To be clear, WhatsApp, which has used by more than 2 billion users worldwide, already has support for using multiple devices. Users can access the service simultaneously, for example through a web browser or a desktop application on their computer. However, today’s phones have to connect to the internet for multi-device support to flow.
In WhatsApp’s own words:
Because the phone has to perform all the operations, the accompanying device is slower and often turns off. Especially when the phone has a poor connection, the battery dies, or application processes are aborted by the phone’s operating system. In addition, only one companion device can work at a time. It means that people cannot be on the portal when, for example, checking their messages on a computer.
WhatsApp’s new cross-device architecture
WhatsApp’s new cross-device architecture removes this bottleneck by eliminating the need for smartphones as a source of truth. While keeping user data synced seamlessly and securely and confidentially.
In a white paper (PDF) published today, WhatsApp outlines how this feature works and gives an idea of why it takes so long to send.
According to the company, it has developed a new technology that ensures that messages have also synced across multiple devices. While maintaining end-to-end encryption, which is currently rare on the market.
“To achieve this, we had to rethink the structure of WhatsApp and develop a new system that would allow multiple devices to experience themselves. While maintaining the privacy and end-to-end encryption,” the company wrote. Each message is encrypting individually, using a pre-defined double encryption session with each device.
A spokesman said the feature would not change the way WhatsApp users use cloud backups. “The mechanism we use to sync messages and other application data between users’ devices is independent of our cloud archives”. The spokesperson added, citing a white paper that describes the protocol in more detail.
WhatsApp does not have an exact date when this feature should be released to all users. Instead, the company announced that it is rolling out this feature to existing beta users first.