WhatsApp may have 600 million users, but when it comes to the web, the messaging app is a little behind its competitors such as Telegram, Viber, Line and WeChat. That, however, may soon change.
As Netherlands-based AndroidWorld.nl reports, WhatsApp could be working on a web client for its phone-based messaging platform. The suggestion is supported by a string of code discovered in version 2.11.471 of the app with mentions of "WhatsApp Web" and computers logging in and out of the client. The code also shows the latest tracking activity in web sessions.
While strings of code are not concrete proof that WhatsApp is working on a web client, several other pieces of evidence seem to point to the existence of WhatsApp web.
Earlier this week, rumors about a web client for WhatsApp first surfaced when Pavel Durov, founder of rival messaging app Telegram, told TechCrunch that WhatsApp tried to poach one of its web developers, giving rise to speculations that WhatsApp could be working on a messaging client for the web.
Additionally, AndroidWorld.nl reporters further dug into its investigation and found out that WhatsApp has a domain dedicated for a web client.
"We still were curious about what the site was going to be and we have assumed some further research," writes (translated) AndroidWorld.nl. "The first guess was an instant hit; the website http://web.whatsapp.com appeared to exist but is protected and can only be signed by a Google account."
The Dutch blog says the address for the web client has been around for "a while," specifically since Oct. 30. To make sure the domain was not one of many unused subdomains bought by WhatsApp; the researchers also tried other subdomains such as http://blablabla.whatsapp.com and found nothing.
Interestingly, the code does not mention WhatsApp founder Facebook, which purchased the app for $19 billion, and the web client domain features Google login, not Facebook login. The absence of Facebook seems to mean that WhatsApp Web will likely not use the social network's login utility. Instead, AndroidWorld.nl reports that the web client will likely use a technique similar to what Telegram uses to verify the user's identity.
Telegram logs users to the web client by sending messages to the user's phone. WhatsApp Web is said to do the same, although instead of sending text messages, the client will be delivering QR codes that can then be scanned to allow the user to log in to the web client.
AndroidWorld.nl says there is no timeline for when users can expect WhatsApp for the web, adding that the evidence is "very limited." In the Dec. 11 version of the app, the researchers also found that all references to WhatsApp Web have been removed, although it could have been removed to hide the evidence from the outside world.