While WhatsApp is most commonly used on mobile devices, there are also desktop apps available, as well as a web app. However, because the messaging service is (for now, at least) tied to your phone number, you still need to have your handset nearby for authentication before you can log in on a PC or laptop.
The current method of authentication involves using your phone's camera to scan an on-screen QR code to gain access to your account. That can be fiddly or irritating, and leaves your account vulnerable if your phone is stolen, but it could be about to change.
- WhatsApp is getting a big update that should be lots of fun
- WhatsApp users need to watch out for dangerous 'crash code' messages
- Facebook is fixing one of WhatsApp's most annoying quirks
Although the current method of logging into the web and desktop apps via a QR code isn't exactly cumbersome, it does mean that you need to take your hands off the mouse and keyboard, pick up your phone, and then line up the code with your camera lens.
In the latest beta version of the WhatsApp app for Android, however, WABetaInfo (opens in new tab) has spotted references that show the ability to log in using your fingerprint might not be far away.
Touch and go
This new way of logging into WhatsApp's web and desktop apps has some important advantages. Firstly, it's much more secure, and eliminates the risk of someone finding your phone and logging into your account. Secondly, it's a lot faster because simply touching your phone is a great deal quicker and more convenient that having to pick it up and its camera.
It is hard to say quite when (or indeed if) this feature will roll out to all WhatsApp users, but we'll keep you updated as soon as we know more.
- Take a look at our guide to using dark mode in WhatsApp