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New WhatsApp Web Video Calls May Explain New Year’s Outage
If you are one of the nearly 1 billion people who use WhatsApp on your smartphone to stay in touch with friends and family with free text messages, picture messages and voice calls, you might have heard about some problems with WhatsApp mobile and WhatsApp Web on New Year’s Eve, or even experienced them firsthand. Below, you will find all the information you need about WhatsApp for PC and mobile, the New Year’s Eve crash, and how to download WhatsApp Web just in time for an exciting new feature.
What is WhatsApp Web?
If you’re a little behind on your social media knowledge and haven’t heard of WhatsApp or WhatsApp Web before, it is nothing less than the most widely used instant messaging application in the entire world. No big deal! WhatsApp and its Web component are free apps that allow you to send limitless free instant messages and multimedia messages over a Wi-Fi connection, which saves you money by preserving your mobile data and finite monthly SMS messages. For several years, WhatsApp has only been available on mobile phones across all platforms (even Symbian OS), but they have recently rolled out a web client for the application known as WhatsApp Web. This is not an autonomous account, but rather inextricably linked to the WhatsApp application on your mobile phone – the two accounts sync with each other seamlessly as long as they are connected to the internet. WhatsApp Web allows you to access all of your contacts, chats and media files with the comfort of a larger screen (great for viewing shared picture and video files!) and real keyboard. It’s also a great option if your phone battery is dead or you left your phone in the other room and don’t feel like getting up to get it (we’ve all been there).
What happened with WhatsApp Web on New Year’s?
As we got closer to the big countdown to 2016 in Central and Western Europe, some WhatsApp users started to have problems connecting to the app, both on the mobile version and on WhatsApp Web. Later, we learned that the partial outage, which lasted around 30 minutes, had affected users in other parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, the US and Canada as well, although most reports came from the UK and Central Europe. When users tried to connect to WhatsApp Web to wish their friends and family a happy New Year, they got an error message saying they were not connected to the internet, even though there was nothing wrong with the connection.
So what happened exactly? Initially, we all assumed it was a server overload due to the massive number of messages sent around midnight on New Year’s Eve. Just to put things in perspective, on New Year’s Eve two years ago (2013), over 54 billion messages were send through WhatsApp, and the number of users back then was roughly half what it is now. So message overload seemed the likely culprit.
However, a leaked screenshot has the tech world buzzing about the likely addition of a WhatsApp video call feature. Rumor now has it that the New Year’s message surge wasn’t solely responsible for the crash, but that testing of the new video call feature tipped things over the edge.
WhatsApp Web may soon add video calls
Apparently, WhatsApp has been developing a new video calling feature for use on mobile, similar to FaceTime on an iPhone, or on the PC on WhatsApp Web, similar to the way Skype is used. The leaked screenshot showing both sides of a video call taking place in WhatsApp all but confirms that this feature is currently in the later stages of testing and will likely be released to the public very soon. This would conceivably allow WhatsApp to control an even bigger slice of market share, as video calling is one of the very few features it has been lacking.
Download WhatsApp Web for PC and Mac
If you have been holding off on downloading WhatsApp because you couldn’t bear the thought of not having the option to video call, or if you had simply never heard about it until now, now might be the optimum time to download and install WhatsApp on your smartphone and WhatsApp Web on your PC. For users who already have the application on their phones, you will definitely want to give WhatsApp Web a try on your computer and take advantage of the larger screen for video calling as soon as this feature is made available. Below, you will find step by step instructions to install WhatsApp Web on a Windows PC or Mac computer.
How to download WhatsApp Web
First of all, we are happy to announce that as of a few months ago, WhatsApp Web is finally available for iPhone users! All platforms can now access WhatsApp Web and sync their accounts.
First: install or update WhatsApp
The first and most important step to download WhatsApp Web is to download and install WhatsApp for mobile on your smartphone, if you haven’t already done so. As we mentioned before, WhatsApp Web does not create an autonomous account, so it requires a mobile account to link to. If you don’t have the application installed on your phone, you can download it from your device’s official app market (Play Store for Android, BlackBerry World for BlackBerry, etc.) and install it just like you would any other application. You will have to enter your mobile phone number to receive a one-time SMS message and verify your account in the last step (which is why WhatsApp mobile isn’t compatible with tablets).
If you do have WhatsApp on your smartphone, do a quick check to see if you have the latest available version, and update the application if one is available.
Second: go to the WhatsApp Web homepage
After you have the app all set up on your phone, use a supported internet browser (Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Opera) and go to the following website: web.whatsapp.com
You should see a big square containing a QR code. Leave this page open, as we’re going to use it in the next step.
Third: open the WhatsApp mobile code scanner
Open WhatsApp on your phone and open the main drop down menu, which usually looks like three vertical dots (although this may vary by device). One of the options should say “WhatsApp Web” – if not, you need to update the application. Selecting this option will take you to the scanner, which we will use in the next step.
Fourth: scan the QR code with your phone
Hold your phone with the code scanner up to your computer screen to read the QR code. This is how WhatsApp Web becomes linked to your mobile account. If the code went away or the page says it expired, don’t worry. All you have to do is refresh the page to get a new one.
Fifth: install WhatsApp Web on your computer
Your computer will automatically prompt you for permission to install WhatsApp Web. Follow the onscreen prompts and instructions, which will be slightly different for different computers. The computer should take you through a sort of installation “Wizard” and walk you through every step until the application is successfully installed on your PC.
And that’s the last step! You have successfully put WhatsApp Web on your PC and can now access everything from your mobile application on the big screen of your laptop or desktop computer. You won’t have to scan the code ever again unless you want to install WhatsApp Web on a different computer, and you won’t have to go through any complicated login procedures either as long as you don’t log off manually (for this reason, we don’t recommend putting this application on shared computers, public computers or on your work computer unless you are certain you are the only one who can access it).
Explore the app, see what it can do, and keep your eyes peeled for any upcoming WhatsApp updates – the next one could be the one with the new and much anticipated video call feature!
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