A few lucky WhatsApp beta testers got a surprising treat this week: the company appears to be testing a version of its iOS app that is also optimized for the iPad. As first spotted by WABetaInfo, version 18.104.22.168 of WhatsApp’s TestFlight app includes the new iPad app as well.
From what we can see in screenshots, the iPad app works exactly like you’d expect. You connect to it by scanning a QR code the same way you’d link your account to any other device. You’ll see a list of your conversations on the left and your current chat on the right. It’s pretty much the iOS app, but instead of seeing one pane at a time, you see both. It almost makes you wonder what took so long, especially when WhatsApp head Will Cathcart said all the way back in January of 2022 that “we’d love to do it.”
Meta, for some reason, has never liked building iPad apps. There’s still no iPad app for Instagram or Threads, and even the Facebook app is just a poorly zoomed version of the iPhone app. Messenger is about the only Meta app app with a half-decent iPad experience. But as WhatsApp becomes more central to Meta’s social ecosystem — and as the company tries to convince businesses to use WhatsApp for listings and customer interactions — it makes sense to bring the app to iPad as well.
Meta, for some reason, has never liked building iPad apps
The WhatsApp experience has gotten a lot of attention recently. The Mac app was updated with better group calling, HD photos and video are now supported in the app, Channels are rolling out to users around the world, and Meta has done a lot of work to make it easier to use your account on multiple devices. Maybe most interesting of all, Meta appears to be working on making WhatsApp a cross-platform messaging service in order to comply with EU rules, which is yet another reason to make the app available to as many users in as many places as possible.
It’s hard to call one of the planet’s most popular apps a secret weapon, but WhatsApp is certainly among the Meta products with the most potential. Meta seems to want to turn it into more of a private social network, letting people connect with each other and with the stuff they care about. (It also desperately wants to make more inroads with US users.) The best way to do that is to be ubiquitous, so after many years of cajoling and pleading from tablet users, WhatsApp might soon be available on your big(ger) screen.