Whatsapp launched its browser support, and I love it.
I am a moderate Whatsapp user. In most cases, I use it instead of SMS. In some cases, it is mandatory use – here in Israel, parent groups around kindergarten, school or most afterschool activities are done via Whatsapp groups.
Up until recently, Whatsapp have been a mobile-only experience. While great on-the-go, this is far from a comfortable experience most of the time. My job places me in front of a large screen and a keyboard for long stretches of the day and switching to my phone to receive and send messages is tedious to say the least. There are two specific cases when this is just darn excruciating for me:
- When I want to send a long message, nothing beats a full physical keyboard. A virtual one on a smartphone, even if it is SwiftKey takes more time for messages. The longer the text I need to write on Whatsapp the greater my frustration
- Pictures. I get boatloads of them from my son’s kindergarten. While Whatsapp is configured on my phone to always download pictures – it wants me to click each and everyone of them to download and view it. On their web interface, they download it all and show it in a way that makes it easy to skim 20 photos a day trying to discern in which of them my son is starring
The form factor of a smartphone limits the ability to use services in certain ways – no matter how capable mobile chipsets have gotten, they still don’t beat the speed and performance of a PC. Their reliance on a batter means they tend to make decisions on energy reduction (if and when to download photos for example) that end up crippling the user experience.
Whatsapp is a rather simple service. It requires some “creation” from its users – mainly typing messages and selecting pictures to share. Whatsapp is also a mobile first service with a mobile centered use case and users. And still. I find myself happier using Whatsapp on my PC’s browser. The Whatsapp web app is now one of the only 3 pinned tabs on my Chrome browser (next to Gmail and Feedly). Can’t understand why it wasn’t available in the past two years.