We use WhatsApp. A lot. Whether it is to communicate with friend, or family, or our Unleash Group. Its great for keeping in touch with people both individually and as a group. The best part of it is: virtually everyone you know has it on their phones, that they carry around with them at all times. However, a lot of people sit on their primary computing device all day, and find picking up their phone just to see and respond to WhatsApp messages quite an irritation, Yours Truly included. There exist a lot of apps to let you send Text Messages from your PC, like Mighty Text. After WhatsApp coming around, a lot of people’s text messaging usage is almost zero.
While we get the reasoning behind WhatsApp keeping their service to phone only, and not on PC’s, but we feel a middle solution would be much better. Viber does something like that. You need to have Viber installed on a smartphone that you are currently using, but can also install it on your computer for when you are using it.This way no one can use Viber exclusively from their PC.
Here’s what we had been doing to use WhatsApp on our PC so far:
- Installed BlueStacks, which is basically a Virtual Machine running Android 2.3
- Install WhatsApp on the BlueStacks installation
- To verify the WhatsApp number, get a spare SIM card and use the Phone-Call-Verification method.
- Share that number with people you want to communicate on WhatsApp with.
Only then could we use WhatsApp through BlueStacks, which we had to keep running at all times. Such a tedious process is thoroughly impractical.
You Sign into your Google Account both on the App and in your web browser. The app mentions Firefox and Chrome support. We managed to get it to work on Safari too, but it wasn’t as reliable.
Once you install WhatsRemote and run it, it introduces an ugly permenant notification in your Notification Bar (similar to the BBM for Android leaked app). Luckily on any Jelly Bean device you can long press the notification and hide it.
The UI is basically a list of your active conversations. Clicking on each brings up the last 60 messages between you and the contact (can extend this number in Settings)
When someone attaches an image, it is shown as an http link. clicking through takes you to the image from Whatsapp’s servers.
There is emoticon support too. All the emoticons from your phone are present.
Further, even if your web browser is minimised, you can set it to give Pop Up Notifications on your computer screen.
While this sounds great, the service is very firmly a Beta right now. Some times a message wouldn’t get delivered but would work if we sent it again.
There are two caveats to WhatsRemote though.
Firstly, it is only for Android devices, that have been Rooted. Don’t know what Root is? Then your phone probably hasn’t been Rooted.
Also, WhatsRemote isn’t free. Once you install it on your phone and sign in, you have a
10 Hour Trial Period [the developer informed me that he has just increased it from 10 Hours to a more reasonable 3 Days. Will take 48 Hours for the change to show in the App Description on the Play Store, but will be in effect immediately]. Post this you will have to purchase a subscription. It costs Rs. 87 or $1.50 for a 6 Month subscription to the service.
Due to the subscription model, the app has received some flak in the form of Negative Play Store Reviews. People think its free and then realise they have to pay, and aren’t too happy. Oh well.
We checked out the certificate of WhatsRemote and it seems in order. The site uses HTTPS too, so someone else peeking in doesn’t seem like it will be an issue.
What Works Fine
- Regular One-One Messaging
- Group Messaging
- Message Pop-Up Notification in Chrome
- Images (somewhat)
What Currently Doesn’t Work
- Attaching Media from Browser
- Viewing Video/Audio/Voice Notes/Location
- Viewing and transmitting Last See At Status
- Compose Message to someone not in your recent conversations on phone
- Safari Compatibility
While its in no way a complete product as of now, the team behind it is incredibly receptive to Feedback and seem to be keen to tweak it to perfection, with a check list of to-be-implemented features.
You can check it out on the Play Store.
What do you think? Does this fill in a use-case for you?