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How to download WhatsApp Messenger

WhatsApp group video call
(Image credit: WhatsApp)

WhatsApp Messenger is the most popular messaging app in the world, with more than 2 billion people using it to stay in touch with friends, family and various social connections.

The Covid pandemic only increased that popularity, with usage soaring by up to 40 percent as people across the planet were restricted to their homes for large periods of time.

Pandemic or not, it's easy to understand WhatsApp's popularity. The service, owned by Facebook since 2014, is one of the best encrypted messaging apps, offering secured text messaging, promising a layer of privacy for all your communications. 

WhatsApp updates over the years have tacked on other features, including Wi-Fi calling and multimedia support. WhatsApp particularly excels at managing group chats, letting you communicate with select contacts all at once. And all of that is completely free — WhatsApp doesn't charge to use the messaging service, placing it among the best FaceTime alternatives for Android phones.

Want to get in on messaging with WhatsApp? You'll have to download the app to your smartphone first. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to download WhatsApp Messenger for free. Here's where you can find the app.

Where to download WhatsApp Messenger

WhatsApp is primarily a way to stay connected on your mobile phone, so naturally, both Google and Apple feature WhatsApp in their respective app stores. But you're not limited to an Android phone or iPhone to use WhatsApp — the company also makes a version for Mac and Windows PCs. (You'll need to have WhatsApp on your phone to also use the desktop version, though.)

There's no dedicated version of WhatsApp for the iPad. Instead, you'll need to access WhatsApp through a browser on Apple's tablet, and even then, you'll still need to link your iPad to an iPhone to use the app.

What you can do with WhatsApp

Once you've got WhatsApp installed, getting setup is a fairly straightforward process. Consult our guide on how to use WhatsApp, which includes tips on getting started and overviews of all the features such as messaging, group chats, voice calls and more. It's also worth learning how to use WhatsApp Web and WhatsApp Desktop so you can make use of the service on more devices.

WhatsApp is always getting new features via updates, so it's important to keep your version of WhatsApp updated. Recent additions have included a dark mode, and WhatsApp also is planning to add a true multi-device mode, as evidenced by a new in-progress feature discovered in the beta version of the app. Other new features included animated stickers, as WhatsApp faces stepped-up competition from rival apps such as iOS's built-in Messages app.

WhatsApp may feature encrypted messaging, but its affiliation with Facebook means you'll still need to be vigilant about privacy given the latter's spotty record when it comes to safeguarding its users' personal data. For instance, WhatsApp may be at fault for your phone number showing up in Google search results, though there are ways to get your number removed. 

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.