#NewsBytesExplainer: How to set up and use WhatsApp multi-device feature
Since its inception, WhatsApp didn't allow one account to be linked to multiple devices at a time. However, that changes with the new multi-device support feature that has been released for users around the world after extensive testing. Using the feature, WhatsApp users can use the same account on their primary smartphone and up to four other devices. Here are more details.
Touted to be the successor of WhatsApp Web, multi-device support can make the messaging service more accessible on multiple devices so users can conveniently access the same account from several devices, even when the primary smartphone is offline. The feature is a boon for post-pandemic remote work where people inevitably use their smartphone in conjunction with a computer or another device.
To enable WhatsApp multi-device on Android, update the mobile app to the latest version and click on the hamburger menu on the top right-hand corner. From the drop-down menu, select Linked devices. Then follow the on-screen instructions to join the multi-device beta. On iPhone, open WhatsApp Settings, tap Linked devices, and follow the exact on-screen instructions to join the beta program.
Once you join the beta program, you'll be asked to re-link all your secondary devices. Presently, only four secondary devices can be associated with one account, and none of them can be another smartphone. To link devices, Tap the "Link a Device " button in the Linked devices menu and scan the QR code shown on the secondary device once WhatsApp opens on it.
Once linked, you could use all four connected devices simultaneously and independently of the primary smartphone. The multi-device system allows you to stay connected because each linked device communicates with WhatsApp servers directly and not through the primary smartphone (as WhatsApp Web did). Linked devices can send and receive calls and messages for up to 14 days after the primary smartphone goes offline.
The feature makes it more convenient to use the same account synchronized across multiple devices and even use WhatsApp when the primary smartphone runs out of charge or can't stay online. However, the system has some demerits. For instance, iPhone users cannot delete messages and conversations from linked devices. Additionally, muted status updates are shown with regular statuses on linked devices.
The core functionality of WhatsApp has been retained in this global beta version of WhatsApp multi-device. However, users can't use tablets, Android or iPad, as a secondary device and are restricted to desktops and Facebook Portal devices. Additionally, there is no way to see the live location of linked devices, and one can't create a broadcast list using them either.