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WhatsApp arrives on the desktop

WhatsApp arrives on the desktop

Users can pair the app to a Web client in Google's Chrome browser

WhatsApp is now available for the Web, in a form that pairs the mobile version of the app to a user's desktop computer.

People can go to https://web.whatsapp.com in the Google Chrome browser to go to the WhatsApp Web client. A QR code will appear, which the user will scan with the WhatsApp mobile app on their phone to get started. The user's phone needs to stay connected to the Internet for the client to work.

At the moment, it works only on Chrome with the Android mobile app. For the iOS version of the app, the company can't provide a Web client right now due to platform limitations, WhatsApp said.

WhatsApp remains focused on mobile, but the desktop pairing is designed to give people another option for checking their messages instead of just on their phones. Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, provides a similar service through its Messenger app and main website. The WhatsApp Web client is meant as an extension of the smartphone app, mirroring the messages.

"All of your messages still live on your phone," the company said in its announcement.

WhatsApp has become one of the most popular messaging apps in the world, now with more than 700 million users who log in monthly. Should the company bring the Web client to more platforms, it could provide a useful service rivaling Google Hangouts or Apple Messages. Maybe even for Skype: A voice calling feature for WhatsApp has been expected for some time now.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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