The Holy Grail that WhatsApp users have been waiting for is almost here. Nearly. Today Facebook announced a limited public beta of WhatsApp’s new multi-device phone-less functionality and you can sign up according to the procedure described on this page. You must be using the latest beta version of WhatsApp for Android or iOS.

The new beta only seems to be limited to a few markets, but the company didn’t mention exactly which ones, so if you’re interested, try and see if it works for you. Maybe not because you are not in an eligible country.

There are a lot of things that won’t work yet, here is the list:

• View live location on companion devices

• Pin chats to WhatsApp web or desktop

• Join, view and reset group invites via WhatsApp web and desktop. You’ll need to use your phone instead

• Sending messages or calls to someone who is using a very old version of WhatsApp on their phone will not work from your linked device

• Calling from the portal or WhatsApp desktop to linked devices that are not registered for the multi-device beta

• Other WhatsApp accounts on your portal will not work unless these accounts have joined the multi-device beta

• WhatsApp Business users cannot edit their company name or labels through WhatsApp web or desktop

Previously, if you wanted to use WhatsApp on a device other than your phone, the handset still had to be connected to the internet as everything was pinged back and forth. With the new functionality, you can use WhatsApp on up to four non-phone devices, even if your handset’s battery is empty.

Facebook Announces Limited Public Beta for WhatsApp's Multi-Device Phoneless Capability

Yes, you read that right – no phone – so you still can’t use the same WhatsApp account on more than one phone. Each companion device connects independently to your WhatsApp, while the same level of data protection and security is maintained through end-to-end encryption (E2EE). E2EE is also preserved while syncing your data like contact names, chat archives, starred messages and more.

Facebook Announces Limited Public Beta for WhatsApp's Multi-Device Phoneless Capability

As you can imagine, this was quite complicated and required a rethink of the WhatsApp architecture. If you’re interested in how Facebook engineers did it, check out the source linked below for a long explanation.

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