So it turns out that the app is dead (well, sort of). For the last decade or so, they’ve shaped how we use the mobile internet, downloaded by the billion. But now, in the US for example, nearly 50% of citizens don't download any at all, month to month.
a decent way to use WhatsApp on iPad
So where did everybody go? Well, many went to messaging services. A place where WhatsApp is King. Or at least royalty. With over a billion users worldwide, you can text, enjoy real time chat and share photos, files and more. You can even go old-school and speak to your contact using audio or video calling. This all without advertising (for now) or someone listening in due to the end-to-end encryption technology. There aren’t many places on the internet that are this private.
As a mobile solution it’s near flawless and my only concern is that under Facebook’s ownership, there seems to be a creep towards adding more and more features. I love it for its simplicity and certainly don’t want it to end up being the confusing mess that is FaceBook Messenger.
If there was one new feature I was really pleased to see, it was Whatsapp-Web. This is a solution for accessing your WhatsApp conversations on your computer’s browser. It’s great when you have your laptop to hand and want to enjoy the benefits of a proper keyboard when you’re having a longer conversation with someone. You still need your phone, it’s doing all the work, but it’s so convenient. I just wish I had it on my iPad too!
Looking at the App Store, it’s clear other people do, as riding high in the charts there’s always an unofficial app claiming to bring WhatsApp to the iPad. Usually advertising supported with a pay-to-remove in-app purchase, I’ve been nothing but disappointed by how clunky and slow each of them have been. The worst don’t even work, which makes me wonder if Apple are lowering their standards by even letting them in at all! App Store reviews show similar disdain.
Whilst I wish FaceBook would consider an App for iPad I’m pleased to report that I’ve found the best of the bunch. Messenger for WhatsApp is another attempt to bring WhatsApp Web to the iPad and, unlike every other one I’ve tried; this one works.
On loading it up for the first time, there is immediate evidence that effort has been put in. IPad specific instructions have been written and the app itself is free of ‘chrome’ showing only what you’d see on the web version - maximising your iPad’s screen space. If you’re not willing to hand over the (slightly steep) £2.99 to remove the ad-banner, then I’m afraid it is rather intrusive - but not a deal breaker.
Typing on other Whatsapp appe was always the biggest deal breaker, as they could be very unresponsive. As if each key press had to be sent to the internet individually before the next one would be accepted. On Messenger, there should be no problem keeping up with your usual typing speed, on the touchscreen or a physical keyboard.
I do find that switching conversations sometimes takes more than one tap on the screen, and occasionally the conversation needs scrolling down to the latest update after I switch, but generally, once you’re up and running, performance is good.
What's Less Good
Like the competition, Messenger for WhatsApp does seem to struggle getting started up. Be prepared to wait a while for your iPad to connect and pick up your phone’s connection. At the top left of the app, there is what looks like a ‘refresh’ button. I often find that tapping this speeds things up, as does opening Whatsapp on your phone. It’s still disappointing when you’re hopping between apps on the iPad and nearly every time this one makes you wait.
Happily, the app fully supports split-screen multitasking, so you can enjoy watching videos and chatting, surfing the web or whatever and the app looks fine sharing 50% of the screen with something else.
As I mentioned, one of the big draws of messaging over say SMS/texting is that you can easily share media and the Messenger developers have done a nice job of allowing you to share photos from the IPad. Something I’ve yet to see in the competition.
If you have an Apple device, it’s likely that you’ve tried out iMessage. Apple have done a superb job of making it nice to use on each device that you have. Whatsapp is a mobile app only and WhatsApp-Web is an okay compromise to getting at your conversations on a computer. Until Facebook get around to providing proper support for iPad users, then Messenger For WhatsApp is currently the edible apple on a rotten tree.