WhatsApp for iPad Now in TestFlight Beta

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It’s been a long time coming, but it appears that WhatsApp is finally on the cusp of releasing a native iPadOS app for its popular messaging service.

According to a tweet by WABetaInfo, a popular site that tracks what’s up with WhatsApp, the iPad app for the service has officially entered beta testing through Apple’s TestFlight platform.

While anybody can sign up for the TestFlight beta, it unsurprisingly filled up within minutes after the post went live. It’s unclear whether WhatsApp has already reached the 10,000-user maximum allowed by Apple or if it’s rolling the beta out more slowly and still has room to increase the numbers. So, if you’re interested in jumping in, we’d suggest bookmarking the WhatsApp TestFlight Beta link and keeping an eye on it.

What’s ironic about this is that WhatsApp predates iMessage by a couple of years; it launched its first iPhone app in 2009 and arguably laid the foundation for Apple’s messaging service, particularly in the way in which users could communicate on the messaging network with nothing more than a phone number. The magic of WhatsApp was that there were no accounts to set up and no usernames, handles, or profiles to worry about. While WhatsApp has recently moved to allow usernames, that’s a relatively modern development, and shows how much the service has changed since its inception.

Along similar lines, WhatsApp has never embraced tablets despite its long history on iPhone and Android devices. Part of this was its stance as an SMS-like mobile messaging platform; however, that went out the door when it debuted Mac and Windows apps a couple of years ago. Still, an iPad app remained missing in action for years, leaving WhatsApp tablet users stuck with kludgy workarounds, from running the iPhone app in ugly tablet mode to logging in using WhatsApp on the web or unofficial third-party apps.

To be fair, the Windows and Mac apps were little more than glorified versions of the WhatsApp web app for many years, requiring users to have their iPhone or Android device online to act as a gateway to the WhatsApp network. It wasn’t until recently that WhatsApp began to add standalone messaging capabilities to these apps, first through a significant update to WhatsApp for Windows last year, followed by a public beta of the Mac version that was officially released this summer.

It’s likely the Mac app that laid the foundation for bringing WhatsApp to the iPad in a similar way. Since the message service has always been tied to a phone number — and only a phone number — it’s a bit of a challenge to keep things secure and ensure that unauthorized devices can’t intercept your WhatsApp communications. Authenticating your identity on a smartphone is done by SMS message; logging in to a Windows PC or Mac requires that you scan a QR code with WhatsApp on your smartphone to prove your identity.

Although WhatsApp seems simple on the surface, there’s likely a lot of plumbing behind the scenes that needed to be updated to make this all work as seamlessly as possible. For instance, consider that WhatsApp only recently added support for multiple WhatsApp accounts on a single iPhone and transfer chats directly to a new iPhone.

It’s still unclear when WhatsApp for iPad will be released, but for now, you can watch for an expansion of the beta program.

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