WhatsApp is testing a new feature that will allow people to text without using their phones for the first time.
WhatsApp is currently connected to a user’s phone. You need this device to connect and block messages on desktop and web applications.
However, the new feature will allow users to send and receive messages “even if your phone runs out of battery”.
WhatsApp, PC and tablets can be used together up to four devices, he said.
To get started, the new feature will be introduced as a beta test for a “small user group” and the team plans to improve performance and add features before using it for everyone.
End-to-end encryption, the main selling point for WhatsApp, will continue to work in this new system.
Some other messaging apps have such a feature, including the rival encrypted app Alarm, which requires the phone to register but does not exchange messages.
However, this feature has long been requested by WhatsApp users and is reported to be two billion.
In a blog post announcing the activity, Facebook engineers said the change needed to “rethink” WhatsApp’s software design.
The current version “uses a smartphone application as the primary device [or the only device that can turn the phone into a source of truth for all user data and encrypt end-to-end for another user.” he said.
We've been working on this for a long time. Until now, @WhatsApp has only been available on one device at a time. And desktop and web support only worked by mirroring off your phone – which meant your phone had to be on and have an active internet connection.
— Will Cathcart (@wcathcart) July 14, 2021
WhatsApp Web and other non-smartphone applications are essentially a “mirror” of what is happening on the phone.
However, this system has serious drawbacks that many regular users are familiar with, as it is known that the web application is often disconnected.
It also means that only one “companion app” can be active at a time – so installing WhatsApp on another device will cut off the WhatsApp web window.
“The new WhatsApp multi-device architecture eliminates these barriers, no longer requiring a smartphone to be a source of truth while keeping it private by synchronizing users’ data seamlessly and reliably,” he said.
At the technical level, the solution was to give each device its own “identity key” and WhatsApp tracked which keys belonged to the same user account. This means that you do not need to store messages on your server, which can cause privacy issues.
But Jake Moore, a security expert at antivirus company Eset, said that no matter how strong the security, the presence of more messages on the device could still be a concern.
“There will always be a malicious actor who wants to create a solution,” he said.
“Local abusers and persecutors can now have the potential to take advantage of this new feature by creating additional points to capture any synchronized private communication.”
He said social engineering was a “growing” threat and that it was the user’s responsibility to address potential abuses.
“That’s why it’s important for people to be aware of all the devices connected to their accounts,” he said.
Stay tuned to ReportingHour for more updates
News credit@ BBC