WhatsApp isn't just for smartphones anymore.
The chat application, which Facebook bought for more than $19 billion in October, will now extend its service so that it can be used on desktop and laptop computers. The app now lets people send and receive messages using a website, in addition to existing mobile apps.
The move expands WhatsApp's reach to even more devices, and underscores Facebook's desire to fuel the world's communications. The service, which has more than 600 million users, is one of the world's largest social chat platforms, and the expansion allows Facebook to make it even more accessible.
WhatsApp is not the only company making this effort. Apple's chat service, iMessage, started as a mobile-only application on the iPhone before the company brought it to desktop computers. Google's Hangouts service also works across devices, as does Microsoft's Skype. And while each company's approach is slightly different, chat is becoming one of the latest battlegrounds among companies hoping to tie customer's devices together under one service.
WhatsApp said its Web service, which launched Wednesday for Google's Android operating system, BlackBerry and Windows Phone, will "mirror" conversations on the smartphone app and users log in through their mobile device. That means customers will still need an Internet connection on their phones for WhatsApp to interact with desktops. But of course, Facebook is already working on this problem too, tying WhatsApp access into its Internet.org project.
WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum said in a Facebook post that "platform limitations" kept it from working with Apple's iPhone. The company didn't say when a Web-version that works with iPhones would be released.