WhatsApp desktop is a new program for Windows and Mac operating systems that enables users of the communication service to tune in from the desktop as well.
Desktop users up until now had only options to use WhatsApp Web, a web-based version of the service, or rely on third-party services to use their WhatsApp account.
WhatsApp desktop requires that you are using the service on a mobile device already. Additionally, the Windows version is only compatible with Windows 8 or higher, and the Mac version with Mac OS X 10.9 or higher.
WhatsApp desktop displays a QR code when you start it for the first time which you need to scan with the app on your mobile device to authenticate and sync data.
The latter means that you need to keep your phone connected to the Internet while using the desktop program as everything is handled using it. This is the same method that is used for WhatsAppWeb.
The installer has a massive size of 61 Megabytes on Windows but the installation itself is straightforward.
The scanning of the QR code may pose troubles though for some users as WhatsApp states on the screen that you should use the WhatsApp application on the mobile device to scan it but does not reveal how.
What the company means by that is that you need to select WhatsApp Web under Settings in the application to do so.
The desktop application displays the chat history on the left afterwards and on the right of that recent messages of the selected chat.
It features a search to quickly find past messages or start a new chat from there.
The chat interface supports the majority of features that the mobile app supports. You can type messages using the desktop PC's keyboard, add emoticons, attach files or use the voice message functionality if a microphone is connected to the computer.
What WhatsApp desktop does not support currently is audio calls. The functionality is not implemented which means that you are limited to text chat and audio messages currently when using the desktop program.
The desktop program offers some advantages over the mobile application. You can type using a full computer keyboard for instance, supports desktop notifications, and keyboard shortcuts that may improve your workflow when using the program.
WhatsApp Desktop mirrors what is happening on the phone and relies on it to be connected to the Internet to work at all.
On the good side, it may improve how you work with the communication service as typing with the keyboard is usually faster and more reliable than typing on a mobile device.
It may come in handy at work or school, or in other situations where you have your phone nearby but either are not allowed to use it all the time or don't want to do so.
All in all though, it is just another option to use WhatsApp.