What makes WhatsApp's new desktop app for Windows and Mac brilliant

Sahil Mohan Gupta
Sahil Mohan GuptaMay 11, 2016 | 18:33

What makes WhatsApp's new desktop app for Windows and Mac brilliant

Facebook-owned WhatApp has more than a billion users and it is more or less the most widely-used communications tool. But of late, WhatsApp's ambitions are to move beyond being a seamless messaging app, which incidentally defeated BlackBerry Messenger a couple of years ago. WhatsApp is on an inflection point and is trying to reinvent itself as the de facto communication medium.

The latest app does much more than the existing WhatsApp for Web interface.

On May 11, when the Facebook-owned service announced its desktop apps for Windows and Mac, many believed why would it do something like this considering its immense success as a mobile-first service. However, it has been a long time coming and thank the lord for it.

Five reasons why:

1. If you haven't know, WhatsApp was already usable on a desktop or a laptop from within the browser through its web interface. These new native applications are basically extensions of the same experience, but thanks to the power of a native interface the experience will be cleaner and faster in terms of push notifications.

2. WhatsApp has ambitions of making it big in the office space. Currently, this space is dominated by services like Slack and also Microsoft Skype Business and Google Hangouts to an extent. If it has to beat Slack and Skype for business, it has to offer a native PC or Mac app as most people still do their work on traditional computers than tablets and smartphones.

3. When WhatsApp enabled default 256-bit encryption in March 2016, it became even more attractive for businesses. It is only enhancing its case by offering a desktop app, which can be pre-installed by IT managers on office systems.

4. WhatsApp has also added support for Google Doc files, conversion of PDFs and rich links. On mobile, it makes for a decent experience, but on a PC, these features turn WhatsApp into a power user tool just like Slack, which works well for a collaborative work space.

5. While WhatsApp is very popular in parts of Asia like India, it lags behind players like WeChat in China. It also isn't a household name in a critical market like the US, which is the centre of innovation for the world. Perhaps, the addition of this desktop client will spawn its popularity in these markets.

Despite all such factors, it must be noted that WhatsApp is taking baby steps towards adding new features. It still remains tied to a particular mobile phone number even for the PC app, which means that if you don't have your phone around, the messaging service will not work.

Last updated: May 11, 2016 | 18:33
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