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Meta has been on a roll lately when it comes to adding new features to WhatsApp, its most popular messaging platform. Last year it released a move to iOS feature to help Android users more easily switch over and added new voice features along with emoji reactions and communities.
Then, last month it introduced the ability to edit sent messages, surprisingly playing catch-up to a feature that Apple brought to iMessage last year with iOS 16. It also seemingly has more new features on the horizon, including support for usernames rather than just phone numbers and direct phone-to-phone data transfers.
Now, it looks like we can add one more to that list of upcoming changes: the ability to use more than one WhatsApp account on a single iPhone.
From its inception nearly 15 years ago, WhatsApp has always maintained a simple yet elegant system of using mobile phone numbers for account names — a move that may very well have been Apple’s inspiration to do the same with iMessage when it launched in 2011.
Since WhatsApp was conceived as a replacement for traditional text messaging, this was understandable and made the platform significantly more accessible. There were no turf wars to get the best username and then try and get family and friends to find and remember it, and you didn’t even have to think about passwords since signing in to WhatsApp was as simple as tapping a link in a verification text sent to your phone.
However, this approach also had its downsides. While Apple was able to leverage users’ Apple IDs to bring iMessage to the Mac, iPad, and iPod touch, WhatsApp had no such foundation to build on. Even after its 2014 acquisition by Facebook (now Meta), the desire to keep the platform distinct ruled out any possibility of tying WhatsApp accounts in with people’s Facebook profiles.
This means that WhatsApp remained a mobile device-first platform for years. Its early PC, Mac, and web apps were mostly glorified interfaces into the mobile app; they had no way of communicating directly with the WhatsApp network, instead relying on users’ smartphones to relay the messages, much like Messages on the Mac and iPad have to send traditional green-bubbled SMS/MMS through an iPhone.
That started to change last year when WhatsApp released its first standalone Mac app, opening the door for users to communicate directly with other WhatsApp users without requiring a phone in the mix. In those early stages, you still needed to sign up with a phone, but once you had, you could carry conversations on from your Mac or PC even when your phone was out of coverage or dead.
With the foundation laid for that, WhatsApp subsequently introduced the ability to pair up to four separate phones with a single WhatsApp account — a marked shift from the one-account-one-phone policy that had been the norm for over a decade. Now, it looks like it’s getting ready to leverage that feature in the other direction, allowing users to use multiple accounts on a single phone.
The report comes from WABetaInfo, the usual source for what’s bubbling up in WhatsApp. Scouring the latest Android betas reveals that the internal code is being laid down for multi-account support in the Android app, which would allow users to easily switch between profiles on the same device. It appears this will work similarly to how it’s already handled in Instagram, which Meta also owns.
The accounts will all be kept signed in on your device, so you can easily switch between them without the need to get new verification codes to authenticate yourself each time. The folks at WABetaInfo discovered the feature in the business version of the app, which makes sense since that’s where users would most likely need to switch accounts regularly, but they’ve also found evidence of the feature in the standard WhatsApp Messenger.
Support for multiple accounts could allow folks to juggle between personal and work accounts more easily; while WhatsApp still requires each account to have a valid phone number, those with separate business and personal phones would be able to set up both accounts on a single device. Plus, modern iPhones support multiple SIMs that allow for multiple numbers, each capable of having its own WhatsApp account.