WhatsApp is getting one of its biggest upgrades yet

(Image credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

WhatsApp will be getting multi-device and cross-platform compatibility, according to new settings screens discovered within its beta versions. This is great news, but we might be waiting a while for it to become available.

WABetaInfo, a site dedicated to mining information from the beta versions of the globally popular messaging app, found these new features (via Forbes), but also the unfortunate news that it doesn't seem to be getting launched any time soon. WABetaInfo suggests in a tweet that it could be anything from two to six months before it appears in the stable version of the app.

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

Technically you can use WhatsApp on your desktop as well as your phone — either via a web client or an app. However the PC and Mac version acts as an extension of the phone you originally registered WhatsApp on, and won't work if the phone goes offline, limiting its usefulness.

The presence of this true multi-device mode was revealed by new screens in the settings menu of the Android beta version of WhatsApp titled "Log in on a new device." The screen suggests that the user connects to Wi-Fi to do this. This is likely because the process is data-intensive as your chat history will be copied from your first device to the second in order to facilitate seamless swapping between the two apps, potentially using your cloud backup to do this.

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

There's also a "Linked Devices" screen, which looks like an evolution of the existing WhatsApp Web/Desktop setting that shows which PCs and Macs you've connected your app to. However this change in wording makes it clearer that it isn't just computers you can do this on, which raises hopes that WhatsApp will finally come to the iPad after years of the tweaked basic app not quite being ready.

WhatsApp has seen several big updates recently, including refreshed security and contact QR codes as well as doubling the user limit on its group video calls from four to eight. This is in light of the increased need for messaging apps due to national lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and to fight off several strong rivals in the form of iMessage, Signal and other Facebook-owned services like Messenger and Instagram.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.