The highly popular WhatsApp messaging service owned by Facebook appears to be adding a new feature that allows iPhone users to chat in the browser using a web app. The feature is called WhatsApp Web and became available on various platforms including Android and Windows Phone earlier this year, but the feature was absent for iPhone users at the time “due to Apple platform limitations.” Using the chat service on the web requires running WhatsApp on a corresponding smartphone.
WhatsApp users on Reddit first noticed the mention of WhatsApp Web support for iPhone users listed on the service’s website. As with all platforms that support WhatsApp Web, the service requires the latest version of the app although the most recent update released earlier this month doesn’t specifically mention it.
The update appears to be hitting users around the world without an App Store update and instead with a server-side change per account. As advertised, WhatsApp Web appears to only function in the browser when WhatsApp on the iPhone is actively running.
While Apple’s iMessage is available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch, and Mac, WhatsApp’s popularity around the world is largely due to its cross-platform support. It’s low cost replaces pricey SMS/MMS in some regions and especially for friends and family communicating between countries.
Once available, the WhatsApp Web feature can be setup in the iOS app’s settings plus visiting web.whatsapp.com with Google Chrome. WhatsApp for iPhone is available for free on the App Store; service is free during the first year and 99¢/year after that.