It sounds like WhatsApp for iPad could still be happening

WhatsApp logo shown on a smartphone
WhatsApp might expand from phones to tablets soon. (Image credit: Alex Ruhl /

Rumors of WhatsApp making its way over to the iPad have been circulating for several years, but it seems there might be signs of light at the end of the tunnel for those hoping to see the instant messaging app appear on Apple's tablets in a native form.

In an interview with The Verge, WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart acknowledged that "people have wanted an iPad app for a long time" before going on to say that "we'd love to do it" – so make of that what you will.

While Cathcart didn't go as far as confirming that a tablet-specific app is going to see the light of day, or hint at any possible launch date, the confirmation that he and his team are keen on making WhatsApp for iPad a reality is encouraging news.

Multi-device support

As Cathcart points out, WhatsApp engineers have recently been busy updating the encrypted messenger app so that it can work independently on multiple devices – you no longer need to have your phone switched on and connected to the internet to load up messages in the WhatsApp web portal, for example.

"We did a lot of work on the technology for supporting multiple devices," says Cathcart. "That would be really important for a tablet app, to be able to use the app even if your phone isn't on. So the underlying technology is there."

We've been here before though: last June, Cathcart also said that he would love to bring WhatsApp to the iPad, and we're still waiting. Plenty of users will be hoping that his enthusiasm for getting the app in the right form for Apple's tablets translates into an actual product sooner rather than later.

Analysis: WhatsApp for iPad is harder than you might think

WhatsApp has grown to become one of the most popular messaging apps in the world, not least because it works the same across Android and iOS devices: no matter what type of smartphone people are using, they all get more or less the same experience inside the WhatsApp interface.

That cross-platform support takes a lot of effort to support though. The app's team is still working on the ability to migrate chats from Android devices to iPhones, and every time a new feature like this gets added, it's a substantial amount of coding and testing work.

The same can be said for getting WhatsApp running on multiple devices separately, without relying on an active connection to your phone. Part of the appeal of WhatsApp is its encryption, and this needs to be carefully handled on each new device.

In other words, putting WhatsApp on the iPad involves more than just making the screen elements and menus bigger for a larger screen. Back in August we saw a leaked image of WhatsApp running on an iPad, so it looks likely that a tablet version is at an advanced stage of development.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.