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WhatsApp has announced the expansion of its multi-device feature, which previously allowed access to accounts on Android tablets, browsers, and computers alongside a primary phone, to include other smartphones. Users can add up to four different phones on the same account.

The new feature, described as “one WhatsApp account, now across multiple phones,” is set to roll out to all users in the coming weeks. Setting up a secondary phone involves tapping a new “link to existing account” option, which generates a QR code to be scanned by the primary WhatsApp phone via the “link a device” option in settings. The new feature works across both iOS and Android devices.

A seamless experience

The company is pitching the feature as a useful tool for small businesses. WhatsApp suggests they may want multiple employees to send and receive messages from the same business number via different phones. It is also useful for individuals who use multiple smartphones and want them to be associated with the same WhatsApp account.

The primary phone initially logged into the account is considered the “primary” device, but it does not need to be turned on to receive messages across other phones, Android tablets, or computers. However, if the primary device is inactive for over 14 days, WhatsApp will log out of other devices. Users can also manually log out linked devices from the primary phone.

An official solution

Once a secondary phone is linked to a WhatsApp account, messages can be sent and received from either phone. Messages sync across phones regardless of operating systems, including from iOS to Android and vice versa.

Up to a year’s worth of messages will sync between devices, allowing users to see chat histories before sending new messages. While there have previously been workarounds to access the same WhatsApp account on multiple phones via WhatsApp Web in a browser, official support for the feature is expected to be far more seamless and useful. Personal messages remain end-to-end encrypted, ensuring users’ privacy is maintained.

Also read: WhatsApp introduces new Windows client