Mobile based messaging app WhatsApp, bought by Facebook for almost $19bn last year, has announced that users can now use the messaging service via their desktop computers. The new feature is an “extension” of the mobile app, and all messages will “still live on your phone” according to the WhatsApp blog. The desktop service will not be accessible for iPhone users, due to “Apple platform limitations”. The desktop access will run through users’ web browser, and will mirror conversations from mobile devices.
WhatsApp also announced they now have half a billion users world wide, with Brazil, India, Mexico and Russia noted as the countries with the fastest growth for the service. This secures WhatsApp as one of the world’s largest messaging services, with the ability to send picture messages and message internationally for free a major draw for users.
The news will receive a mixed reception, after an independent auditor’s report suggested that the app, which comes with a $0.99 (65p) annual subscription fee after the first 12 months of use, lost over $200m in the first half of 2014, and only made $15m in the third quarter. This has caused worry about how the service can continue to run with rapidly increasing user numbers.