In my part of the world, SMS messaging fees are exorbitant and unlimited plans are non-existent. That’s why services like WhatsApp have taken off quickly and become the de-facto messaging solution for everyone, from the tech-minded geek to the older 50-something parents, the hip teenager, and the business man and woman.
The one caveat however, is WhatsApp’s mobile-only limitation. For one, I keep interrupting my work on the computer to unlock the phone and respond to messages, and for two, I have to continuously hammer messages on my phone’s touchscreen. When you suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome like I do, there are days when this is just a recipe for insufferable pain.
Enter WhatsRemote, an app that recently came under my radar thanks to Aatif Sumar. It essentially promises to let you continue your WhatsApp conversations from your computer’s browser. Does it work, and what are its caveats? Let’s take a look.
Before you get started, you need to know 2 things: WhatsRemote only offers 3 days of free trial, after which it costs $1 every 6 months. Also, it will only work on rooted devices. If you don’t mind both of these restrictions, you can move forward with the setup.
After you install WhatsRemote on your phone, it will ask for root access then require you to login with your Google account. This is used as an identification method between your phone and browser, instead of requiring separate usernames and password. WhatsRemote then starts working its magic in the background, and you can change some of its settings. For example, you can set it to disable notifications on your phone so you don’t get nagged constantly while on the desktop, and automatically mark all the messages as read on your phone after the service is stopped.
On your computer browser — preferably Firefox or Chrome — you need to head to whatsremote.com and sign in with your Google account. Once that is done, you will be treated to a chat-like interface with your conversation list on the left and the messages on the right.
In Practical Use
WhatsRemote works, and for an app that essentially hacks its way to functionality, this is a tremendous feat by itself. Messages are received and sent, albeit with a slight delay on the browser, and you can even set it to alert you with sound and desktop notifications. Multiple conversations and group messages can be carried simultaneously without any hitch.
Emoticons can be read and sent, but when it comes to media, you can only view images sent by your friends — these appear as links that open in a separate browser tab. Sending your own images, and every other type of media isn’t supported at this time.
A few additional caveats are associated with WhatsRemote. First, the “last seen” status doesn’t carry out well, and you might appear as if you haven’t opened the app in a while, even though you’ve just sent a message. You can consider this an issue or a blessing in disguise. And second, you can’t start a new conversation from your address book.
Is It Worth It?
I know that most of this article is about WhatsRemote’s limits, but that’s only because you need to lower your expectations when it comes to hacked solutions like this one. Truth of the matter is, there is something utterly liberating and borderline magical about accessing WhatsApp from your computer, typing fast messages to your friends, and getting back to your work without taking your hands off the keyboard.
If that’s what you want out of WhatsRemote, then you won’t be disappointed. But if you expect a fully-working WhatsApp desktop solution, then you need to wait for the higher-ups at the company to bring it in an official manner.