Ever since the early days of WhatsApp, users have only been able to use one phone per account – but this is finally changing.
The chat platform has announced that users can now get their WhatsApp account on up to four additional phones, or five in total.
WhatsApp users can link four extra ‘companion’ smartphones by scanning QR codes using their primary phone.
Users have already been able to connect up to four PCs or tablets to a single WhatsApp account, but until now not any additional phones.
The ‘highly requested’ feature will suit those who have a phone for work and a phone for personal use but still want all their chats under a single WhatsApp account – although some said mistrusting couples will try to log into their partner’s account.
WhatsApp said it is improving its ‘multi-device offering’ by introducing the ability to use the same WhatsApp account on multiple phones
The update has started rolling out to users globally and will be available to everyone in the coming weeks, according to WhatsApp.
How to use WhatsApp on multiple smartphones
- Download the WhatsApp app on your ‘companion’ phone, choose the language and tap to proceed
- Instead of entering the phone number of this additional device, tap on the three dots followed by ‘Link to existing account’
- You will then see a QR code that you will have to scan using your primary phone
- To do this, tap on Settings (on your primary phone), followed by Linked Devices and then Link a Device
- This will bring up the option to scan a QR code. Once the code is scanned you will be able to use the same WhatsApp account on both devices
Mark Zuckerberg, the head of Meta, which owns WhatsApp, announced the update on his Facebook page on Tuesday.
‘Starting today, you can log into the same WhatsApp account on up to four phones,’ he said.
In reply, one user joked ‘that’s gonna be a problem for jealous couples’, while another said ‘I try to log on my boyfriends account, will he know?’
In response to such concerns, WhatsApp said users can check any other devices connected to their account and log them out remotely from their phone.
WhatsApp, first released in 2009, was designed to send the equivalent of text messages but via the internet.
For this reason, a WhatsApp account has always been closely tied to an individual phone number, although more recently it’s become possible to link several non-phone devices to an account too.
In 2021, WhatsApp started letting users connect up to four additional non-phone devices such as PCs and tablets to their account, independently of a phone.
This means a user has been able to have, for example, their phone, two tablets and two PCs all running the same single WhatsApp account.
This feature had rolled out globally by 2022, but now WhatsApp is going a step further by introducing the ability to use the same WhatsApp account on multiple phones too.
While the amount of devices has not increased (one primary phone with up to four companion devices), extra phones can now be included in the mix too.
WhatsApp has said each linked device will connect to WhatsApp independently, ensuring personal messages, media and calls are all synced.
If the ‘primary’ smartphone – defined as the one that originally had your WhatsApp account on it – is inactive for a long period, it will automatically log you out of all ‘companion’ phones.
WhatsApp (which is owned by Meta) has announced one of its biggest changes in the chat app’s 14-year history
Regardless of which device is running a WhatsApp account, all chats will still be end-to-end encrypted, WhatsApp staff have stressed.
End-to-end encryption ensures only the two participants of a chat can read messages, and no one in between – not even the company that owns the service.
WhatsApp, which was bought by Facebook in 2014 for about $19 billion, says every private message sent using WhatsApp is secured with end-to-end encryption by default.
It acts like ‘an unbreakable digital lock’ that keeps the contents of messages secure and viewable to no-one except the sender and the recipient.
However, WhatsApp could potentially be banned in the UK due to its use of end-to-end encryption, which some believe make it more difficult for security agencies and other organisations such as child protection charities to detect criminal activity.
The UK government is currently considering new legislation that could force WhatsApp and other chat platforms to break end-to-end encryption, as part of the Online Safety Bill.
Messaging services that use it, including WhatsApp, Signal, Viber and Element, have signed an open letter opposing the Online Safety Bill ahead of its final reading in the House of Lords, which is still upcoming.
‘The UK Government must urgently rethink the Bill, revising it to encourage companies to offer more privacy and security to its residents, not less,’ Will Cathcart, head of WhatsApp at Meta, said in the letter along with six other signatories.
It follows news that WhatsApp developers are working on bringing animated emojis to the platform, according to independent experts WABetaInfo.
A GIF of the new emoji in action shows the ‘Face with Party Horn and Party Hat’ emoji spinning around while blowing a party horn.
One of WhatsApp’s primary rivals, Telegram, already has animated emoji, leading to accusations from some users on Twitter that WhatsApp is ‘stealing’ the idea.
BEST WHATSAPP ALTERNATIVES
If you’re considering deleting WhatsApp, you’ll be happy to hear that there are several alternative apps to choose from:
With more than 400 million users, Telegram is one of the most popular WhatsApp alternatives.
While it looks very similar to WhatsApp, what sets it apart is the fact that it gives the option to set messages to self-destruct after a given period of time, leaving no trace.
Telegram also offers end-to-end encryption.
However, as a WhatsApp spokesperson pointed out, Telegram ‘does not offer end-to-end encryption by default so it’s not necessarily more secure than WhatsApp’.
Signal is one of the most secure messaging apps, thanks to the fact that it is open-source.
This means that the code for the app is publicly available to view, making it near-impossible for the app’s creators to sneak in any backdoors that could allow governments or hackers to spy on your messages.
If you use an iPhone, you may consider simply switching to iMessage, Apple’s own messaging app.
The app has a number of impressive features included no character limits, the ability to send pictures and videos, and of course Apple’s animated emoji feature, Animoji.
Unfortunately, iMessage is only available for iPhone users, so you’ll struggle to interact with anyone using an Android.
4. Google Messages
Google’s answer to iMessage is Google Messages, an Android-only messaging service.
The app replaces your standard SMS app, and integrates with all of Google’s apps and services, making it easy to share images or use Google Assistant.
5. Facebook Messenger
If you were put off using WhatsApp due to its sharing of data with Facebook, Facebook Messenger may not be the best option for you.
However, the app offers a number of helpful features, including games, secret conversations and video calls.