WhatsApp’s New Feature – For the first time, WhatsApp is testing a new feature that lets people message without using their phones. At present, WhatsApp is in connection to the phone of the user. This device must receive messages for its desktop and web app to run. It will still be possible to send and receive messages on a dead phone, thanks to the new feature.
WhatsApp says users can use up to four other devices simultaneously, including PCs and tablets. Initially, the team plans to test the new feature with a “small group of users” before adding more features and improving performance. Despite the changes, WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption will continue to work. The encrypted Signal app already has this feature, which can only sign up without a phone. However, WhatsApp users – estimated at 2 billion – have long requested this feature.
WhatsApp – ‘A new perspective’
Facebook engineers wrote in a blog post announcing the change that WhatsApp’s software design needs to be rethought. Since this is the case, the mobile app is the most common access method. “Use of the phone as the source of truth for all user data and the only device capable of encrypting messages for another user [or] initiating calls,” the company said. The apps on the web, such as WhatsApp’s new feature, serve as mirrors for the apps on the phone.
However, this system has notable drawbacks, such as frequent disconnections of the web application, which are familiar to many users. As a result, only one so-called “companion app” can be active at a time, so switching between devices will disable WhatsApp’s web client. Despite no longer requiring a smartphone as the source of truth, WhatsApp’s new multi-device architecture keeps all user data accessible and secure while enabling seamless and secure synchronization and privacy.
In a technical sense, the solution assigns every device an “identity key,” which WhatsApp keeps track of as it pertains to different accounts. Messages do not need to be there on the server, preventing it from storing private information. Jake Moore, an Eset security expert, says that messages accessible on a larger number of devices might cause concern.
As long as malicious actors exist, they will try to create workarounds. Domestic abusers and stalkers could now take advantage of this feature to collect synchronized private communications by building additional endpoints.” Additionally, he warned users to keep an eye out for potential misuse of social engineering, becoming a more well-known threat. The best way to protect one’s account is to be aware of all the associated devices, he said.