Getting bought by Facebook hasn’t done anything to harm WhatsApp’s popularity. The instant messaging client has more than 600 million active users now, and over 65% of our readers rely on it. But it still doesn’t have a client for your computer.
If you go to the official WhatsApp forum, you’ll see a request for a desktop client almost every week. But the company seems to have no interest in this. So it’s up to third-party developers to come up with a solution. And the best one so far has to be WhatsRemote.
The Problem With “WhatsApp on PC” Apps
Yes, you can run WhatsApp and other mobile messaging apps on your Mac or Windows PC. In fact, you can also run it on Ubuntu. But these solutions require you to use BlueStacks, an Android emulator. You are basically creating a new WhatsApp account here. You can’t use WhatsApp on your phone and have those messages synced to WhatsApp on your PC. That’s just pointless for most users — why would you want to have two different WhatsApp accounts to talk to the same people?
WhatsApp is a must-have on your Android phone (read our WhatsApp for Android review), but several of its competitors offer desktop or web clients, which let you chat with a regular keyboard. As someone who uses WhatsApp on a daily basis, I can vouch that this is the one feature I want more than any other. The closest thing you can get is WhatsRemote.
What Is WhatsRemote and How Do You Use It?
WhatsRemote is a web-based WhatsApp client. You install the WhatsRemote Android app on your phone, sign in with your Google account, and then go to the web app. The Google login should be safe, but WhatsApp’s various privacy issues aren’t going anywhere.
Important: WhatsRemote works only with rooted phones. If you don’t have a rooted phone, don’t worry, it’s easy to root any phone with our guide.
The app is nothing great to look at, and in fact, the font can be a little hard to read on Windows (it looks better on Mac). Still, it gets the job done. You have your entire list of current conversations on the left. Click any and it opens up a small tiled window, where you can see your chat and use the keyboard to start typing — complete with emojis. How many tiled windows you can open depends on the width of your screen.
WhatsRemote can give you desktop notifications when you receive a new message, or issue a sound alert. The notifications are quite useful, showing you the message itself, not just that you have one.
Generally, the app works pretty well and is useful.
The Shortcomings of WhatsRemote
WhatsRemote still has some major problems which it needs to resolve.
- WhatsRemote is a paid service, which feels disingenuous and kind of like being ripped off when WhatsApp itself is free. Sure, it costs almost nothing (approximately $1.5 for 6 months), but it does feel weird. You can try the app for three days before purchasing the subscription.
- You can’t start a conversation with a new contact, or start a new group. For that, you’ll need to rely on your phone.
- WhatsRemote does not show you media inline. Instead, you get links, which you open in a new tab.
- By default, what you see on WhatsRemote is not marked as read in the WhatsApp app on your phone. So if you want to let your friends know you’ve seen their messages, open the WhatsRemote Android app and tap the “mark all read” button.
Another Alternative to WhatsRemote
Again, this doesn’t sync your phone with your PC, but instead, it mirrors your phone’s screen on your computer. So you are basically “seeing” your phone on your computer, and you can thus open up WhatsApp and talk in that with your keyboard. Not the best alternative, but worth a try.
The installation is simple. You’ll need to download the Android app, log in, and just go to the website.
Download: WhatsRemote For Android (Free)
Update: Try WhatsCloud!
After a few readers recommended it, we checked out WhatsCloud and we’re quite impressed. WhatsCloud needs a rooted Android phone, just like WhatsRemote, but it has a few other differences.
- WhatsCloud looks far better than WhatsRemote and feels like a modern, web-based WhatsApp interface.
- However, you don’t have the multi-window view of WhatsRemote, which power users might find more useful.
- It supports in-line media previews
- WhatsCloud is completely free.
- It supports desktop notifications, but it only tells you that you have a message — the notification does not preview the message itself.
- WhatsCloud’s sync was not as good as WhatsRemote. On a couple of occasions, messages we sent from WhatsCloud were stuck in limbo; receiving new messages has always worked flawlessly, though.
We would recommend giving WhatsCloud a try, whether you like WhatsRemote or not. It’s free and the setup is almost exactly the same. So try it out and see which of the two apps you prefer.
Update: Official Client Now Available
WhatsApp has now launched WhatsApp Web, which does the same things as these, but better and more efficiently. Here’s everything you need to know about WhatsApp Web.
What Is Your Most-Wanted WhatsApp Feature?
It’s pretty clear that what I want most from WhatsApp is an official desktop client to sync my chats everywhere and use it on any platform with my keyboard. But maybe that’s just me. What is your most-wanted WhatsApp feature?