WhatsApp now native on desktops

WhatsApp now native on desktops
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WhatsApp now native on desktops
Starting from 10 May, 2016, WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned, and the world’s most popular instant messaging app, will be natively supported on desktops. By desktop, I mean standard desktops and laptops running Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and Apple’s OS X 10.9. If you use Windows 7 or earlier versions, you have been lucked out of this new capability. That is, you will not be able to have a native WhatsApp app on your system.

According to the research firm Statista, Whatsapp had a billion users as of last month. But the app had been missing a feature that is available in competing tools: desktop apps for Windows and OS X operating systems. By way of the standard capabilities, WhatsApp on your smartphone enables you to send text messages, as well as share photos, videos, and audio files with friends and family. It also gets live notifications when a new message arrives to your phone. There have been a few third-party companies, such as Bluestacks, that tried to “port” WhatsApp to your desktop on their own, but the deployments might not have been successful.

Some WhatsApp capabilities have been launched on the desktop before (January 2015) for smartphone users - albeit in a roundabout way, through the web client “WhatsApp Web.” That was initially for Android and Windows Phone users, and then later for iOS users. However, the deployment was not native to desktop - it was web-based. “Because the (new) app runs natively on your desktop, you’ll have support for native desktop notifications, better keyboard shortcuts, and more,” WhatsApp said in a blog post on 11 May 2016.
There are a few limitations associated with the new capability: The desktop app is still synced with the WhatsApp account on your smartphone, and does not allow separate sign-up. Once you download the app to your desktop, go to Settings on your phone and then to “WhatsApp Web” where you find a Quick Response (QR) code that you can scan in order to sync the apps on the two devices.
With the new app, WhatsApp’s cross-platform feature is pretty much complete: Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, BlackBerry, and Microsoft’s Windows phone, in addition to the web browser version. This development might give WhatsApp some advantage over Apple’s iMessage, which is available only on iOS and Mac OS X devices. Microsoft’s Skype, Google’s Hangouts, Viber, and Telegram are competing tools which are already available across devices and operating systems.
WhatsApp has come some distance of its own. The original company, WhatsApp, Inc., based in Santa Clara, California, was founded in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, both veterans of Yahoo! According to Reed Albergotti, Doug MacMillan, and Evelyn Rusli in the 20 February 2014 issue of Wall Street Journal, shortly after Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion, users every day uploaded 600 million photos and sent 100 million video messages. The tech journalists also said that the app had approximately 450 million users.
WhatsApp is certainly not static. The new release last week arrives one month after the company pumped up user security by implementing end-to-end encryption across all supported communications channels, including group messaging and file transfers. The firm activated full encryption for one-on-one text messages in 2014.
With rivals everywhere, WhatsApp may still not be home free! Competitions abound: WeChat, developed by the Chinese company Tencent Holdings; Line, by Naver Corp. in Japan; Viber, by Viber Media, Inc. (Cyprus/Israel); and Kakao Talk, launched in 2010 by the South Korean company Kakao Corp. Thus, one of the biggest challenges that WhatsApp (and in fact Facebook itself) is facing, and will continue to face, is regional preferences. In Brazil and Germany, the U.S.-made WhatsApp is dominant, but that seems like an exception. In South Korea, Japan, and China, the most popular app in each country tends to be the locally-developed ones.
Facebook is still blocked in China, whereas WhatsApp is not. However, if Facebook should start adding social media stuff into WhatsApp, the latter might get blocked as well. Also, with the end-to-end encryption capability that WhatsApp recently enabled, coupled with the recent apparent hostility toward foreign firms in China, the outlook for WhatsApp in China is not pretty. With WeChat’s dominance in China and its better offerings when compared to WhatsApp, it’s doubtful that WhatsApp can compete in that market, and could actually go the way of Instagram in China. Facebook bought Instagram, the photo-sharing app, set up a shop in Beijing, but it basically “got the shaft” because of domestic competition.
On a final note, I wonder how many of the billion WhatsApp users actually care about the desktop platform. My guess is - not a whole lot.  Chances are most desktop folks use their machines for productive activities, while serious businesses may not be using WhatsApp as their mode of business communication.
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