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Introducing WhatsApp's Desktop App (whatsapp.com)
312 points by andersonmat on May 10, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 220 comments



Why is Facebook/WhatsApp doing the tether to the phone crap? I have a few seniors in the family who have no need of a cellphone (stay at home most of the time). Everyone else in the family uses WhatsApp and these poor people are left out of the look. It is completely stupid as far as I can see. What is the phone requirement buying them?


It's required because your phone is where your messages are stored.

Whatsapp don't retain messages/media after they've been delivered to your phone, which is a compelling privacy feature for many.

It's also what allows them to serve such an enormous user base with limited hardware. Their technology stack (FreeBSD/Erlang) is pretty interesting, more info here:

2014 talks by Rick Reed:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c12cYAUTXXs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TneLO5TdW_M

Slides:

http://www.erlang-factory.com/static/upload/media/1394350183...

There's likely no technical reason why you couldn't use a pc instead of a phone for users that want to use the pc as the primary client (with the phone optionally accessing the DB on the pc in the same way that the desktop client does for the phone). Perhaps they've decided that this is a small and declining market.

Edit:

Slides for second talk

http://www.slideshare.net/iXsystems/rick-reed-600-m-unsuspec...

440k connections/sec, 1.1 million msgs/sec, 1 billion images/day, and that was in 2014...


> There's likely no technical reason why you couldn't use a pc instead of a phone […]

Any personal computer built in the last five years can do anything a smartphone or tablet can in terms of processing power and connectivity. A smartphone is a computer with hardware that enables it to use cell phone networks and make calls.

My inner cynic strongly suspects that Facebook and other similar corporations really like the control they have on the overall user experience on the two major mobile operating systems; i.e., eyeballs on a smartphone or tablet are worth more than those on a general purpose computing device.

Too much freedom on a personal computer; with browsers that feature all kind of privacy enhancing add-ons such as ad-blockers and tracker-blockers. Much harder to monetize.


You are totally right! That's the obvious answer. On desktop you have too much freedom.


I'm going to assume this is sarcasm and upvote.


> It's required because your phone is where your messages are stored.

So are you saying that a desktop PC's hard drive can't handle storage of some text messages but a phone can?


Of course, he is not saying that, he is just explaining how whatsapp is actually storing the messages.


No, he's saying that in order for the messages to be available, they have to be stored locally and since most people need access to the messages from their phones, it makes sense to do it this way to ensure that all messages are stored on the phone, instead of users ending up with some messages on their phones and some on their PCs.


Neither does iMessage store messages on servers, and yet I receive iMessages on every device I signed on.


But you can't retrieve historical iMessages on a new device.


I'm not really asking for that feature. If I could send and receive messages on the computer without having to open the smartphone app every five minutes for it to restore the connection, I would be happy already;


"Perhaps they've decided that this is a small and declining market."

For consumers (and facebook is a consumer company) it's all about who owns mobile (and can also compete with facebook). They want desktop to just be enough of a feature to be more appealing than other platforms, but not enough that it detracts from mobile.


Remember that there is no sign up, and that your mobile (phone number once registered via SMS OTP) is the only client their servers can trust.

Imagine a scenario where you were to get rid of the phone number and had sessions open on the desktop and the web. WhatsApp servers have no way of knowing where the phone number went or if it will be online ever again or if you continue to own the phone number, or someone else owns it. They need to route the msgs through that phone/number combination all the time, because it's the single source of truth.

Its security and privacy that's preventing them from providing the feature you're asking for.

If they detach individual user's identity from a phone number, may be then they can be a true cross platform (web, phone, desktop) messaging app.


This doesn't make a whole lot of sense because people give up their phone numbers from time to time. I did this myself. My understanding is that someone who claims my number cannot access my past data. But if it is "stateless" then a phone number doesn't have to be the only identifier. They can also use email. Heck .. here is an algorithm ... use phone number 555XXXXXXX .. take a person's email address and hash it to XXXXXXX. Done!


Most people in the world don't (or barely) use email, specially in EMs. Also, you can access you email from many different places, you (usually) can't receive an SMS on the same number from many different places.

Another advantage of using phone numbers is that people actually have other people's numbers in their phone address books, which whatsapp uses. Very few people have their friends' email addresses on their contacts.


I guess if the point is for them not to store your messages on their servers once those messages have been delivered, how is WhatsApp to know whether to send a message to the session logged in from your phone, or to the desktop app with a different session, or to your work computer where you forgot to log out?

Being able to sync across all your devices requires they start storing all of your communications centrally, which defeats the whole information security model.


Can't it be device to device , once you get to new device you mark that device as add and as soon as u login it can sync.

But i found whatsapp is next to mp3 in my and my friends phone so it is not easy from bandwidth perspective


This way, you might not have the full conversation on each device - e.g. you write "a" to alice on your phone, turn it off, turn your pc on and receive "what do you mean?" from alice - the conversation is otherwise empty. That's not a good UX. You'd have to store the chat history somehow - and thus loose the privacy aspect of not storing it.


Giving phone numbers up, typical in the US, doesn't happen everywhere in the world.


Whatsapp only needs one time authentication through SMS OTP. And whats app need not be installed in the same phone as that containing the number. I use number from a different country for my whatsapp. I dont even have the phone with me. So when the OTP is received, I ask my friend to provide it to me.


That doesn't explain them actively blocking google voice numbers.

Or home phone numbers (landlines) for that matter. Let people use a landline number on a tablet.


I've had it working perfectly well with my google voice number for years now. When did they start blocking it?

The only problem I recall is that the initial text verification doesn't work - I had to do the phone call option - but this is a problem with gvoice, not WhatsApp: google blocks pretty much all server-triggered texts.


I ported my Cingular/AT&T number to Google Voice many years ago and six months ago ported it to Ting. There are a number of companies who consistently fail to deliver texts to that number. The most notable (for me) is Amazon. Yet dozens of other companies (Facebook, Google, etc.) are able to use it just fine.

I don't have the slightest idea on how to fix it. The only reason it worries me a bit is that I might miss texts from other people.

Switched to an iPhone so I could use "Find Friends" with spouse and kids.


Yup, works for me as well!


Telegram also relies on phone numbers, and you need them to just to log in. You can log in once and stay logged forever on your computer without ever touching your phone again.

Whatsapp makes you to stay connected at the same time on your phone to use their web/desktop apps.


WhatsApp doesn't store messages on their servers, which is one of those features I really like in a privacy point of view. Signal does the same, its web app only loads the messages from your phone and they are not stored to any servers.


Doesn't that mean you can't carry on a conversation on another device?

It seems that was the main reason people didn't like Jabber to start with.


Still, Signal's web app works without a phone AFAIK


Not an excuse, but: A) WhatsApp is a true messaging app. Once the messages are delivered, they are deleted from the server, so you need a primary device that stores the messages. B) It currently uses a phone number as identification, in order to create a true desktop app you would need another method (unless you use a landline or dumbphone phone number for desktop as well).


Messages are not deleted from the server. They are probably stored there in the encryped form. When I open the web version of WhatsApp, same images and the message history that i have on my phone get downloaded there. I highly doubt that they rely on my phone as the only master storage of that data and upload all images into the web version from it?


Actually yes, that is exactly what they do: Download everything from the phone.


Including 2MB images in the conversation? Has someone verified this by looking at the traffic?


My experience of WhatsApp Web has been that the images do not auto-load (Chrome on Windows 10 and Windows 7). A heavily compressed thumbnail is loaded and I have to manually click each image that I want to view.

I haven't analysed any traffic and I'm not a developer but my layman's guess would be that the WhatsApp mobile app has a pre-prepared Zip file (or some other compressed container) with the 20 most recent messages from each chat plus these compressed image thumbnails and the Web Client pulls that data from the phone upon initialising. I doubt it is a big data transfer.


Actually, the "latest" images (whatever it means) auto-load. Only when you go up in the history you have to click to load.


I hadn't, but now I have.

Using mitmproxy to snoop my phone, I see that all the data coming into my computer when I open up Whatsapp Web is originating from my phone. Including pictures.

That being said, all of my current conversations are on the new "end-to-end-encryption" thing, which might make a difference.


Images and videos are stored on their server for a fixed amount of time, and deleted afterwards. (So you just send an url and the client transforms it into a thumbnail).

You can test this by trying to download an image for the first time after a few weeks, it will tell you that the image is no longer available, and you should ask the other recipient to send it again.


I can't answer that question but I can say that images shared with whatsapp are compressed to < 100kb


That's not true: I just looked in my WhatsApp gallery, the first image I opened was 525KB. At <100KB, any screenshot of text would show visible compression distortion around the letter edges, which they do not.


I guess no. I uses mobile data to access whatsapp on phone. My chat history is roughly more than 250 MB.

The time Whatsapp web takes to download images and messages is far way faster than my actual 2G network on phone.


I think you should try web app disabling the internet on your phone. Have you tried it? If watsup store the messages on its servers, it would be able to retrieve. But this is also not reliable since they may check phone connectivity before they retrieve from their "servers". I am still skeptical that they may store on servers behind the scene at least for speed and performance.


I just opened the Whatsapp web app (never used it before), and then immediately set Airplane Mode on my phone as soon as it scanned the QR code.

WhatsApp managed to load all my conversations (I don't have many) and the most recent message, for display in the list-view. But each conversation only has the most recently sent message. After a while I got a "Phone Not Connected" message. Seems like it really is only stored on your phone.


>they may store on servers behind the scene at least for speed and performance.

Yes, that's why I think so. They easily loads all the messages and images in just few seconds even when my phone's internet is too slow.

They won't let you use the web app when you're phone is disconnected, so there's no way to confirm it.


In order to use Whatsapp Web you need to be on the same wifi network as your phone.

Your phone has the data on it. Intranet speeds on most wifi networks these days is faster than 50Mbps. That's more than fast enough to transfer all your messages and photos with little to no lag.

It doesn't matter how fast your connection to the WWW is because you're not using the WWW to transfer the data, you're using the wifi intranet.


It will work over a mobile connection, using wifi is only recommended to save data usage.


In order to use Whatsapp Web, your computer/tablet and your phone need to be connected to the same wifi network.

That makes it easy to send all the data necessary from your phone to your computer in the blink of an eye, because intranet wifi speeds are very fast.

On my iPhone, backups can be stored, but through iCloud, not on Whatsapp servers.


Switch to Telegram (https://www.telegram.org/). You need a cellphone to activate it, but then you can use it on desktop without problems.


I used whatsapp for about an year on Bluestacks desktop app where whatsapp (without once asking for an otp confirmation apart from when I registered to start with) worked smoothly. Also my phone was never connected to internet but I had it active on a cheap phone. So in case you need seniors to come online via their desktop buy a cheapest possible phone and install bluestacks or any similar app on desktop.


This is what Facebook Messenger is designed for, they don't necessarily need to compete with each other.


I agree. The actual usage with what they have captured the market is free texting and moving forward now they have voice messages too. So they don't really need a desktop app. Simply if one has to use it on PC, WhatsApp Web is a great feature and it does exist for the single session only.


I REALLY wish they would stop the tethering. It's pretty flakey a lot of the time. I use the webapp probably 80% of the time. Sometimes it just stops working, in the middle of a convo. Very frustrating.


I believe it's because your phone contains the private key needed to decrypt your messages.


You can use bluestack android emulator or something similar to run whatsapp on desktop.

You need a phone number just to create an account first, you can turn it off after that.


How is facebook "tethering" to phones?

You can send messages to all of your facebook friends through facebook.com on any device, as you always could.


You can get smart phones for like $20 and if they are not used for anything the service costs are like $5/mo


Unless you live in Canada.


Check out 7-11, they had some good deals on low-usage phones last time I needed one.


i will make a wild guess and assume it has to do w/ legacy in their internal system

most likely their internal system can only think in telephone numbers or something like that


WhatsApp was bought for $19 billion. You could probably pay $1 billion and get a couple of different systems that worked well enough to replace WhatsApp.


Having read the engineering posts about their core systems I think you're being wildly optimistic in the same way as people who think "writing a general CMS can't be that hard, I'll just write my own" are.


You could build 17.2 WhatsApps for $1 billion, assuming that it took nothing more and nothing less than the $58 million in funding they raised: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/whatsapp#/entity.


Yup, that's why I said a couple. You could afford 17, but only 2 of those would be suitable.


The $19 billion paid wasn't for their amazingly well engineered system, it was for their massive user base.


From personal experience, I cannot agree more. These editions are completely useless.

If the Whatsapp team actually tracked the rate of user engagement with these Desktop/Web editions & compared this to the Smartphone/Tablet apps. They would agree with you.


It's quite a leap to go from your personal anecdotal experience to assuming that the data of hundreds of millions of people must be the same as your experience and was just ignored.


I think you misunderstood me. I was talking about MY case. Not "hundreds of millions of people"


"If the Whatsapp team actually tracked the rate of user engagement with these Desktop/Web editions & compared this to the Smartphone/Tablet apps. They would agree with you."

Surely you are talking about them tracking the rate of user engagement across their userbase, not just the data of you alone?


ok. u got me.


And this is why I use Discord. The only still sane option. It's a shame you can't use multiple accounts on the phone natively, but there are tools for that.


No linux version. I was almost convinced that this was going to be another Electron app (after slack went that route)


I recommend Franz (http://meetfranz.com/). Does Whatsapp, works on Linux, mac, pc. Supports Slack, WeChat, HipChat, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Google Hangouts, GroupMe and Skype.


This is just a wrapper for web clients of the "protocols" they support. So WhatsApp is web.whatsapp.com in a tab, Skype is web.skype.com, etc.


It appears as though WhatsApp desktop is basically a wrapper on web.whatsapp.com as well.


I assumed as much, and yet still no Linux version. I don't use WhatsApp anyway but it's still disappointing.


Way to undermine the hard work of talented developers. Is that envy? You should see all the features its offer before calling it just a "wrapper".


I think you're reading a bit too much into his comment. It's true that the phrasing can seem dismissive, but I don't think it's meant as such to that extreme of a degree.

It being a collection of wrappers is either true or not and is not necessarily a value judgment, but a technical detail.


It IS a wrapper around the web version. To be fair, the web version is very solid. It even warns you when your phone's battery is running low.


...which, for what it's worth, is an Electron app. :)


Eh, I'll still take it.


Wow that's cool. This seems to be the spiritual successor to Adium (maybe Pidgin, not sure if that's still active).

Edit: Tried it out. It's visually pretty but it wouldn't even let me add my Slack account (we use SSO, maybe they haven't updated for that). And then when I clicked the Send Email to Franz, the email was prepopulated with some social "download franz!" message.


I really wish it supported Signal.

Edit:

Still pleased to use it, I don't like the Skype client for Linux.


Thanks for the recommendation. This looks fantastic. If only it could do iMessage (which I know is a whole different beast).


Thanks, this looks amazing!


No IRC?


Was super interested, until I realised no LINE nor KakaoChat :(


It is an Electron app from what I can see on OSX (Electron/React Native/Mantle/Squirrel). No voice calls though.


It is indeed an Electron app. I guess they just figured it wasn't worth the trouble to package and test it for Linux.


It takes zero effort to package Electon apps for Linux, there are plenty of tools available that will package it for all platforms with one command.

And so far, I've not seen any differences or platform specific bugs.

Sure, you'd expect a big company like WhatsApp to do QA testing on every platform they release for, but it's a shame that even with the barrier of entry is so negligibly low, that they still won't provide a Linux build. Even if it's just for the latest Ubuntu LTS that's fine, other distros can repackage it themselves.


Telegram forever ahead...


Minus the whole end-to-end encryption thing... which is still missing in their Linux gui client.


There are alternate clients that support it on Linux. "Cutegram"

http://aseman.co/en/products/cutegram/


And from all their other clients, if the industry assessments of their so-called encrypted protocol are to be believed.


Yeah, no use to me either, althogh I did recently upgrade my windows 7 vm to windows 10 (there's no windows 7 version either). Very odd.


It is electron app.


1/ phone tethering is the price to pay for end-to-end encryption: the support of multiple devices is not compatible with perfect forward secrecy, as the former require the asynchronous push of messages to all devices while PFS requires synchronicity (at least some kind of, as explained in their white paper here: https://lobste.rs/s/sx2f0r/whatsapp_encryption_overview_tech...

2/ if you don't like the Desktop App (or are using Linux), you can use https://web.whatsapp.com/ and/or the Chrome extension WhatsChrome https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/whatschrome/bgkodf...


> PFS requires synchronicity

No it doesn't. Multiple devices is a special case of multiple recipients, which the Signal protocol handles (and I presume Whatsapp does as well). See more details here (https://whispersystems.org/blog/private-groups/)

Now, that doesn't mean it already works in Signal/Whatsapp, because they have other constraints. But it's not PFS that prevents it.


Or you can use Whatsie [1] a simple & beautiful desktop client for WhatsApp Web.

https://github.com/Aluxian/Whatsie


What did they use to make the desktop app, I wonder. Maybe _electron 1.0_?!?


They did use electron. Confirmed by viewing `/Applications/WhatsApp.app/Contents/Frameworks/Electron*`


This is not an independent app. It is still tethered to the phone, and can't work without it :(


Their servers do not store unencrypted messages so they need to come from the phone.


I guess they could do an "untethered" desktop version but they don't really want to. Solve syncing of history etc but it's doable. But they just love living in your pocket. It's all about owning you, and that's easier if they stay with you all the time.


I feel the same way. Just build an independent app already. Telegram did it well. What's stopping WhatsApp ?


Monetization strategy is what's stopping Whatsapp. Eventually, there will be an official API so business can hook CRMs to clients' Whatsapp accounts. However, FB is first trying that with Messenger API/bots. I assume Whatsapp API/bots comes next.

FB did not pay billions for the most popular chat app just to let 1 billion people use it for free forever...


Free? Every WhatsApp user paid Facebook on day one with the contents of their address book and how frequently one person contacts another. This is of huge value if your business model is exactly to gather this kind of data.


All the talk about encryption and privacy seems to ignore this basic point. Association can be dangerous and this does not protect people from exposing themselves in that way.


True, but to be honest I am not sure that alone is worth 22B, in particular when you have to show shareholders how you plan to make that money back.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-10-28/facebook-s...


As kawera said two comments above yours:

Their servers do not store unencrypted messages so they need to come from the phone.

----

That's why some people criticise Telegram: Their messages have to be stored unencrypted for their setup to work.


Exactly. Telegram's "Secret Conversations" are encrypted end-to-end but then they aren't synced (or even supported on desktop).


My workaround for this is to create a group chat. I only talk to two people on Signal but I've asked both of them to message in the group chat that I've made. Now, I can answer chat messages on my nexus 5, nexus 6, and nexus 7. (I built the apk from source for the Nexus 7. I wouldn't recommend this if you actually want secrecy. I'm not doing anything confidential so I am not too worried about targeted attempts.)


What's stopping them from either providing a way to sync the key to other devices, or allow the device to register its own keys, and they just store a couple copies of the encrypted data?

It seems like there should be ways to do it without storing unencrypted data.


AFAIK Apple Message implements encryption and has independent clients. So I think the problem can be solved with some effort.


Each device has its own key. Before a message is sent, the client grabs all the keys for each device associated with the account of the recipient, it then encrypts the message separately for each device and sends a separate encrypted copy for each device.

This scheme has various weaknesses, eg. a rogue key could be associated with someone's account without their knowledge, and anyone who sends this person messages will therefore be sending a copy encrypted with the rogue key.


Telegram also only shares unencrypted chats across multiple devices.


How could then sync end-to-end encrypted messages?


Sender encrypts same message several times, one for each receiver device.

Store them the same way they store today.

When the first device picks up the message, mark as delivered, when the user reads it, mark as read.

Something along those lines, I guess.

EDIT: message is encrypted, but not it's metadata, as the server must know where it came from and where it is going to.


Considering how much information about a subject is inferrable by means of metadata only, I'd say this is a much better solution, security wise.


Same way iMessage does


The same way Signal does is probably a better example.


Keep in mind that Whatsapp still supports pretty old devices (Nokia S40/60), where you may not want to encrypt every image N times.

Edit: remove some stuff.


Actually iMessage doesn't encrypt each image N times. It encrypts once, upload it to a server, then encrypts the image encryption key N times.


A possible procedure is described by Moxie here:

https://moderncrypto.org/mail-archive/messaging/2014/001022....


Couldn't they store encrypted messages on their servers but not store any keys? They'd just need a mechanism to privately share they key between devices (Bluetooth pairing)?


Or every device has a different key, a la iMessage, which in my opinion is better so long as everyone has Apple devices.


Just when I started using web app my gut told me that Facebook wont allow WhatsApp to directly compete with messenger and Facebooks messaging platform.

If both would allow similar technology they not only would be fighting over the same market, but would be easy target to anti-monopoly bodies.


If Whatsapp had a desktop app, I would use it for almost everything. Right now my main way of communicating while I am in my laptop in Google Hangouts.

It would be also very useful for the few times that I run out of battery.


I hate Websites selling themselves as "Desktop apps". I'd much rather have a native interface, me and my battery would say thank you for that.


It seems to be nothing more than https://web.whatsapp.com/ in a web view. So I can't really see interest.


But, but... you get to run Facebook binaries on your desktop computer! Comes with a full access to everything, so it must be very exciting for at least one party involved.


I previously created my own "native" app from this by wrapping https://web.whatsapp.com in an Electron wrapper so that I could have WhatsApp live separate from the browser, with it's own Dock icon.

Some ways in which the official app is better: * The official app extends to the edges of the window, whereas the web app has a "window on a background" design, which takes up more space. * The official app has keyboard shortcuts. * The official app has better notifications.


I discovered https://github.com/stonesam92/ChitChat

A couple weeks ago. One thing it does better than the official app is that on Mac the red window button hides the window rather than terminating the process.


We used to do this with Fluid.app in the naughties.


I'm doing this currently with Chrome Apps.


Since when it became fashionable to use a wrapper of your web site? "Because the app runs natively on your desktop, you'll have support for native desktop notifications, better keyboard shortcuts, and more." I think Firefox is perfectly capable of doing any of those. I just hate it someone comes up and says 'Look we built a native app' I'm sorry but no you haven't! If I wanted to use your web page I can do that I don't need you to wrap it and ship it as a native app. Disappointed.


This app is so native neither CMD + W nor CMD + SHIFT + W closes the Whatsapp window - yay!


Alt+F4 works perfectly.


You're using Windows, I believe?


Yup.


This just seems to be exactly like the Whatsapp Web running in the browser. I don't understand what benefit comes from the native client.


It's somewhat covered in the blog post:

> Because the app runs natively on your desktop, you'll have support for native desktop notifications, better keyboard shortcuts, and more.


With a desktop app you can easily and quickly command-tab to it if you want to use it. In contrast with a web app it's often awkward and time consuming to find the window/tab of the web app you're running amongst your other browser windows/tabs.


Not really. Extract the web.whatsapp tab into its own window and now you can command-tab to it.

---- Plus, on my OS at least, I can even search for the window by its title. That, combined with workspaces, is an organizer's godsend.


This isn't how cmd+tab works on a Mac.

Do you mean alt+tab in Windows?


I don't really treat cmd+tab and cmd+` very differently, sorry. On my OS, both work: I can alt-` to cycle through windows of same application and alt+tab to cycle through each individual window (grouped by application); maybe that's given me the habit of treating alt+` merely as a filter on alt+tab.

Oh! This is perhaps also why I get annoyed by cmd+tab on Macs!!


Next tme on mac try cmd+' to cycle between windows of the same app(although im not sure, because it really is muscle memory). Cmd tab cycles through wndow groups? Or does it cycle through each window?

Which wm on which os do you use? gnome kde or something else?


> Next time on mac try ...

I do know how it works on Mac, it's just my muscles don't.

> Which wm on which os do you use? gnome kde or something else?

Kwin (from the KDE suite) on Arch Linux.


Chrome has that sorted already on android, where you can run up a site with a home screen link, different icon and separate listing in the task list. Given the work they've recently put in on full screen mode on desktop it looks like they're maybe a couple of versions away from having something similar on desktop


Chrome? I thought all browsers had it, my Symbian device did iirc as well as Firefox for Android.


Firefox has it but it's not as tight yet. In particular it doesn't have a good splash screen experience or notifications on android


This used to be possible on desktop with create application shortcuts, but this feature seems to be gone now :(


Still there:

Hamburger Menu -> More Tools -> Add to Desktop


This capability was removed from the OS X version of Chrome some time back.


Interesting. I saw it work as recently as a few weeks ago. Looking at the support article (here: https://support.google.com/chrome_webstore/answer/3060053?hl...) it looks like OS X is the only platform where it no longer works. How strange.


Actually they're removing it on Android even :(


Really? Thought support for that feature was increasing with the web app manifests. Do you have a source?


They're actively adding features. It's a little more complex than it used to be with the manifest, and needing a service worker and encryption for a lot of features, but it's all still there


Try fluidapp, solves that problem very quickly.


I see three "nice to have" benefits: full keyboard, copy and paste text/links when you're browsing the web and sending images taken with a traditional camera. None of these are essential for sure and I for one prefer using my phone but sometimes it can be handy.


I think he means compared to the web one


None in my [Mac]book. If you're running on OSX, open WhatsApp web on Safari, allow notification & pin the tab. Same outcome but resource efficient (compared to an Electron app).


Windows 8 minimum? Is this an UWP app or what's the reasoning here?

Edit: I downloaded and successfully launched this on Windows 7. It seems like a standard Electron app. Now I wonder if the Windows 8 requirement is purely for tech support reasons, or if there's some specific feature that would fail on Windows 7.


Microsoft doesn't support Windows 7 any more, why should WhatsApp?


You are misinformed. Microsoft even supports Vista, not to mention 7. [1] In addition, if XP support deadline extensions are anything to go by, then these Windows 7 end-of-support dates will get moved several times until they stick. Beyond that, Windows 7 remains by far the most popular Windows version, exceeding the combined market share of Windows 8, Windows 8.1 & Windows 10. [2][3]

Unrelated to market share & OS updates, there's the technical question. There aren't many Win32 APIs which are present in Windows 8, but not Windows 7. Thus it's not that likely that Windows 7 wouldn't be supported by a Win32 app (which this is), unless they go out of their way to make it so.

[1] http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/lifecycle

[2] http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_os.asp

[3] https://www.netmarketshare.com/operating-system-market-share...


> You are misinformed.

According to Wikipedia I'm not: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_7#Support_lifecycle

"Mainstream support for 7 ended on January 13, 2015."

I think it's reasonable that businesses don't support an OS version beyond the OS's provider's own "mainstream support".

> Thus it's not that likely that Windows 7 wouldn't be supported by a Win32 app (which this is), unless they go out of their way to make it so.

Possibly, but listing support on their website means they support it, and why should they do that if, again, Microsoft itself does not?


Literally 5 words later:

Extended support will end on January 14, 2020


Ending mainstream support is Microsoft's way of saying: from now on you'll only get security fixes and no new features. Windows 7 support hasn't been dropped in any other way.


But windows 7 is still support by microsoft. Extended support goes until 2020.


Because they bill it for use at work and the overwhelming majority of businesses are using Win7 there.


Nope, they went out of their way to create something less functional than their UWP app (which is blocked from installing on a tablet or desktop, just like their android app).


I guess they do not want to officially support an OS (win7) which is on extended support from the manufacturer.


It runs fine on windows 7 - I just tested it and can't see any problems with it.


Why is the app closing completely if I press 'x'? wouldn't be much better to stay in background mode like Slack does (well and many other chat clients)? It's annoying...

I'll keep using my custom wrapper with NW.js (apparently this uses electron) until this behaviour is implemented...


For mac users there's ChitChat[0], it behaves as expected. In fact I'm not switching to the official WhatsApp desktop release until this issue is properly fixed.

[0] https://github.com/stonesam92/ChitChat


ChitChat is great but is not _exactly_ like a mac app. You can't drag it from desktop to desktop. No big thing though.


pro tip: you can do cmd+h to hide all windows


I was excited when I saw the headline but the phone teathering is a deal breaker.

I removed whatsapp from my phone precisely because it took up too much space, with all the photos and videos being shared daily. It's a shame really.. a desktop app would've been a great alternative


An app without tethering would be great, I agree.

But to save space on your phone, it's easy to turn off automatic storage of media, on iOS this is under Settings > Chats > Save Incoming Media. I've had it turned off for a long time to stop my camera roll filling with meme pics.


Thanks


> with all the photos and videos being shared daily

Why not just turn off auto media download?


Well, at least it's not a Chrome Add-On. Still useless for me because of the tether to phone point.

Now please Signal. Give me something we can all work with.


When I saw this I was excited that maybe I could finally switch from Telegram. But no, it's tethered. I don't want to have to always make sure my phone is charged and with signal. I really don't get it. I get they can't do it the telegram way, by storing plaintext on the server. However I don't get why they can't do it like iMessage and encrypt the messages with each registered device's key. Perhaps moxie can explain why they can't do this.


This is what I love about fb messenger over whatsapp. You can use it on your pc even without your cellphone. This dependency on the mobile makes no sense at all. It kills half the usecase.


How about introducing open protocols instead?


Vastly preferable of course, but that is not in the best interest of Facebook, so why would they? The goodwill (marketing) generated by doing so has to outweigh the loss of control (and income). It appears it doesn't, or they would have done it.

The only other reason to adapt open standards and an open protocol would be government pressure and legislation in the US or the EU.


What's different compared to using nativefier on web.whatsapp.com? I've been using that for a while now


My guess is that they took web.whatsapp.com and wrapped it in an Electron app and added a couple native desktop features. Not a lot of effort to do this on their end so I guess it's just another added value to the product. I'll continue just to use the website, I personally see no need for this.


An old friend of mine suggested I try out Viber or Whatsapp to contact her. I had a look at them, but they want full access to all the contacts on your phone, its all or nothing, you cant use either to communicate with select people. So I elected not to use them. Just gonna use email.


Is anyone qualified to comment on what this will do with my OS X address book and similar data should I open it?

edit: on the plus side, looks like it's just their web app repackaged using Electron. Still not sure what all these helpers are for though


Since it "just" mirrors your phone it shouldn't access your OSX address book.

But since most people use iCloud to sync that address book with their Mac and their phone its moot. If you open WhatsApp on your phone, it will take a trip through your contacts and upload everything to their servers. Which, I still maintain, is stupid and unnecessary and the numer one reason why I never bothered with WhatsApp.

It's an IM client. So let me put my numer in and that's it. If I want to use it, I probably already know the people that also use it. So if they in turn also hae uploaded their number, I could search for it and add it. Have them confirm out connection and chat away. There is no need to grab all my contacts' information without their consent.


From what I can see, it didn't access either my OSX Address Book or my Android Contacts.


Meh, no Linux support, so I'll still be using Viber even though my siblings in Germany and Switzerland always try to get me to install WhatsApp instead, appearantly it is super big there. Here in Sweden noone ever asked me to install it.


It sounds on its face that it works the same as, or similar to, the web.whatsapp.com webapp. Runs locally in your browser. It talks to your phone (over websockets, I think?) if the computer/phone are on the same wifi network, and then the chats fire out/in through the phone as normal.

That should work just fine for you, I'd imagine.


Even if it's "just a wrapper" the native notifications are worth it for me. I really wish iMessage would have a web view like WhatsApp that you can just open on another computer though. Even if it's not a Mac.


Still tethered to a phone... i'll just keep using this https://github.com/Aluxian/WhatsApp-Desktop


Of course its still tethered. Does the app you linked bypass the tethering ? I fail to see the benefits offered by the app you linked over the official client.


Yup. Meanwhile I'll be using this https://telegram.org


So what is the benefit of this over the Web version? Same UI, both need the internet, both have desktop notifications, both need your cellphone to be connected to the internet. Not to mention, no linux version


Nice. Maybe with this I can convince my friends to move over to WhatsApp from Google Hangouts. The lack of desktop app support for Hangouts has been driving me nuts.


You could just open hangouts.google.com in a browser window, why do you need a native app?

Also, Hangouts would not need phone tethering


It's incredibly frustrating to find the one tab/window you have open to hangouts when you have dozens of windows/tabs open.


Hangouts does have a Chrome app (not extension, but app). Which runs in a pop-up mode and gives a user interface similar to android.

Also, it starts up with your operating system with a floating icon which stays at top of the windows if you want, and provides notifications. Your friends can use that if they want to stick to hangouts.

[Hangouts Chrome App](https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-hangouts/nc...)


WhatsApp has (proper) end-to-end encryption which is IMO a big win over Hangouts.


Why do you need desktop app support for Hangouts? You can install the extension.


Because I can't cmd-tab to it. Because it brings every Chrome window to front if I just want to read a message. Because it floats on top of Chrome whenever it's open. Because I can't easily move it between monitors, or to a different part of the screen. It's also really rubbish at uploading files. Why can't I drag and drop? And how about search? You're Google ffs. Why do I have to go to Gmail to search Hangouts, instead of allowing search in, oh I don't know, how about in Hangouts?

Some of these may have changed since I abandoned Hangouts last year for Telegram, which still has the best desktop experience.


I don't use Hangouts, but I thought Google hangouts now has a desktop app variant that solves the problems you mentioned.


> Because it brings every Chrome window to front if I just want to read a message

Are you using a Mac by any chance?


Yes, hence cmd-tab.


Ok, then that is the reason for the issues you see but you probably already knew.

Edit: removed lots of unnecessary text : )


It's only the reason for it inasmuch as Hangouts is implemented in a way that behaves like this on Mac. It's not as if it's an inherent property of the OS.


use Hangouts as a desktop app... https://github.com/jiahaog/nativefier


... And there's STILL no official iPad version.


This is nearly identical to the WeChat desktop app. Looks like Whatsapp did some "innovation arbitrage".


If I leave my job, can I "log out" of the app on my work machine without access to that machine?


Yes, you can log out of any web/desktop client from the mobile app


Why does it not Support Windows 7? Isn't that like 70% of Windows Market?


the page is broken on Debian 8 / Iceweasel with ABE. Is it an outdated setup? Many times I feel people are fixing what is not broken to end up with something inferior.


Is this a rip off from ChitChat?

https://github.com/stonesam92/ChitChat


> Is this a rip off from ChitChat?

White background with a list of users to the side. Isn't that a ripoff of well, half of messaging apps.


Well, the very first thing in the readme for that project says:

"A Mac app wrapper around WhatsApp's web client, WhatsApp Web. https://web.whatsapp.com/"


Which the official App also is.


Have you ever used the "WhatsApp Web"?




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