About 16 months after making its messaging service available on the web, Facebook-owned WhatsApp is coming to the desktop. The company said today that its apps are now available for Windows 8 and above, and for Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) and above. That’s in addition to the existing apps for Android, iOS, Blackberry, and Windows Phone, among others. “Like WhatsApp Web, our desktop app is simply an extension of your phone: the app mirrors conversations and messages from your mobile device,” the company said. Put another way: you need the mobile app running on your phone, close to your desktop computer, for it to work.
To log in to the app, you’ll need to scan a QR code using the WhatsApp mobile app. Once you do, all your chats will load. Benefits of using the web app include desktop notifications and access to all your favorite keyboard shortcuts. In a quick session with the app, I found it fast and responsive. A desktop app may feel like a small thing, but messaging apps derive part of their power from ubiquity — the more places you can access them, the more often you’ll use them. WhatsApp has more than 1 billion users already. As of today, they have one more reason to keep it open all day.