WhatsApp, with two billion users wordwide, is testing a new feature that will let people message without using their phone. Up to four other devices – like PCs and tablets – can be used together, WhatsApp said. End-to-end encryption – a key selling point for WhatsApp – will still work under this new system. The new feature will be rolled out as a beta test for a “small group of users”, and the team plans to improve performance and add features before enabling it for everyone. Facebook engineers said the change needed a “rethink” of WhatsApp’s software design, because the current version “uses a smartphone app as the primary device.”
“The new WhatsApp multi-device architecture removes these hurdles, no longer requiring a smartphone to be the source of truth, while still keeping user data seamlessly and securely synchronised and private,” the company said. Identity keys will be used for every device. At the same time, same troubles including privacy attacks could be possible. “Domestic abusers and stalkers could now have the potential of using this new feature to their advantage, by creating additional endpoints in order to capture any synchronised private communications,” Jake Moore, a security specialist at anti-virus-company Eset, said.