WhatsApp multi-device support is now live

After months of speculation, WhatsApp has finally rolled out the support for multi-device on its platform. Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart had confirmed that this feature is coming to the app soon. Zuckerberg also said that it has been a “technical challenge” to develop. The feature is a bit complex and there are some things you need to know before you decide that you want to use it. Here we answer some of the key questions about the latest WhatsApp feature:

What is the new WhatsApp multi-device feature?
Essentially, the multi-device feature allows WhatsApp users to operate one account via different devices simultaneously and independently. This means that if using the multi-device feature, you’ll be able to use linked companion devices without the need to keep your phone connected.

Is the WhatsApp multi-device feature available for everyone?
No. The feature is currently in the beta stage and is being tested with a small set of users only.

Who is eligible to test the WhatsApp multi-device feature?
Existing WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business app beta users on both Android and iOS operating systems can opt for it.

What is the maximum number of devices you can use for the WhatsApp multi-device feature?
Using this feature, you will be able to use WhatsApp on up to four companion devices at one time.

Is it an all-new feature or does WhatsApp offer similar functionality?
Currently, WhatsApp allows you to connect your account to another device via web, or PC app for macOS and Windows, and even Portal by using a smartphone as the primary device. Because of this, companion devices are dependent on the main device to maintain a persistent connection. So it ends up mirroring the contents of the main device on secondary devices

Are you required to keep your phone connected to all the companion devices?
No, the WhatsApp multi-device feature does not require a smartphone to be the source of truth. However, you’ll still need to register your WhatsApp account and link new devices with your phone.

Are the chats still secure?
WhatsApp multi-device feature supports end-to-end encryption

Are the chats synced across devices?
Yes, WhatsApp says that it synchronises message history as well as other application data such as contact names, whether a chat is archived, or if a message is starred across devices.

How are WhatsApp messages synced across devices?
According to WhatsApp, “When a companion device is linked, the primary device encrypts a bundle of the messages from recent chats and transfers them to the newly linked device. The key to this encrypted message history blob is delivered to the newly linked device via an end-to-end encrypted message. After the companion device downloads, decrypts, unpacks, and stores the messages securely, the keys are deleted. From that point forward, the companion device accesses the message history from its own local database.”

Are all features supported while using WhatsApp multi-device?
Since the feature is currently in the beta stage, not all features are supported. For instance, you cannot view live locations on companion devices. Pining of chats and joining, viewing, and resetting group invites from WhatsApp Web or Desktop is also unsupported at the moment among other features.

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