The feature would be rolled out over the next few days, and would be automatically activated on all eligible devices.
WhatsApp for Desktop and Web: Instant messaging app WhatsApp has decided to make logging in on WhatsApp Web and WhatsApp’s Desktop’s app more secure by leveraging the biometric security in smartphones. In an announcement on Thursday, the Facebook-owned platform announced that the platform is beginning the roll out of the security feature that would need users to use face or fingerprint ID on their smartphones when trying to link their device with WhatsApp on the Web or on the desktop app. This means that to access their WhatsApp chats on either of these platforms, the users would have to authenticate the linking with the help of their biometrics.
The feature would be rolled out over the next few days, and would be automatically activated on all Android devices which support biometric unlocking. Apart from this, all iPhones running on iOS 14 or later OS versions and having Face or Touch ID unlocking feature would also automatically get this update. On devices having biometric unlocking, users would have to disable this unlocking feature for their entire device to escape this updated security feature, otherwise this would remain a mandatory feature. On the other hand, users having mobile devices which do not support biometric authentication would be able to log into the Web and Desktop versions of WhatsApp as usual.
However, surrounded by controversy and criticism, the company has clarified that the biometric data of the users would not be accessible to either WhatsApp or Facebook.
It is noteworthy that this feature would remain similar to fingerprint/Touch ID or Face ID unlocking in apps like Google Pay or several bank apps, and just like the biometric data from those apps does not get transferred to Google or the banks hosting the apps, the biometric data used to unlock WhatsApp Web/Desktop linking would also not be transferred to WhatsApp or Facebook.
How will the feature work?
Once the feature has been rolled out, in case users wish to log into WhatsApp Web or WhatsApp’s Desktop App, they would have to go to WhatsApp on their devices and either go to Settings (in case of iPhone) or to the three dots for More Options (in Android devices).
In the case of Android, once the user has clicked on More Options, they would see the option to ‘Link a Device’. If the device has biometric authentication, the user would have to follow the on-screen instructions to link the device, WhatsApp said.
On the other hand, for iPhones, in Settings, they would see the option to ‘Link a Device’. Upon clicking it, users would have to click ‘Ok’, after which the users of devices running on iOS 14 or later versions would have to use Touch ID or Face ID to unlock the feature and link the device.
After this, on the Web or Desktop App, users would see a QR code which they would need to scan from their phones to log in. In case they want to remain signed into the device, they must ensure that they tick the ‘Keep me signed in’ box on the Web or Desktop portal.
The options to log out from Web or Desktop portal would remain unchanged, and users would be able to log out from the portal by clicking on the three dots on top of the chat list and then selecting ‘log out’. Alternatively, they would be able to use their phones to log out by going to WhatsApp and ‘More Options’ or ‘Settings’ on their Android or iPhone, respectively. After this, the user would have to select the WhatsApp Web option, and then select the device they wish to log out from before tapping ‘log out’.