On the 14th of July, Will Cathcart, head of WhatsApp, announced in a Twitter thread that the messaging app will soon support a multi-device capability.
On Tuesday this week, Will Cathcart reported that a limited portion of the public will be able to beta-test WhatsApp’s updated multi-device capability.
The messaging app – which is the most downloaded one on the market – will now be available on up to five devices. Cathcart claims: “We have developed new technologies to maintain end-to-end encryption while still managing to sync your data (…) across devices.”
Up until now, WhatsApp was available as a phone app and via a web browser. The issue, however, was that users couldn’t use both simultaneously for different purposes. For example, taking a call on the mobile version led to the web one being disconnected.
The new multi-device capability will allow people to use the app, even if their phone is off.
To achieve that, the engineering team has designed new systems and changed WhatsApp architecture. They also worked on the security features.
Every device will get its own “identity key” and the app will keep a record of every user account’s “keys”. In other words, it will be storing messages on multiple gadgets.
This announcement led to security concerns. Cathcart, however, says that extended security codes prevent malicious attacks. He also introduces the Automatic Device Verification feature: “This system allows for devices to automatically establish trust between each other in a way that someone needs to compare another user’s security code only if that user reregisters their entire account, rather than each time they link a new device to their account.”
The new security measures will require users to scan a QR code from their phone to confirm their identity. They will also be able to log out remotely if issues arise.