WhatsApp Messenger is an incredibly popular app for the iPhone. It lets you send messages to your friends, or to groups of friends, over Wi-Fi or 3G, thereby saving on your phone bill (although you may still end up paying for the data if you go over your limit!). It’s a service that’s used to communicate worldwide, and WhatsApp has over 900 million active users as of September 2015.
The sad thing is that the app is only available for iPhone - there isn't one for the iPad or the iPod touch.
But don't despair. In this tutorial we show you how to install WhatsApp Messenger on the iPad (or iPod touch) or alternatively, use WhatsApp Web on your iPad. Installing WhatsApp on your iPad is a bit more fiddly than a standard installation, but it's still fairly straightforward - and you don't need to jailbreak your iPad or spend any money. You do need an iPhone at one point, though, to register the app.
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It's been one of our most popular articles and seems to have made a lot of readers very happy, but a few months back we hit a wall with this tutorial: after the launch of iOS 8, the methods below seemed to simply stop working.
We've added a section devoted to iOS 8, which contains one possible workaround for the problem, but it's far from ideal: it requires you to access a version of the WhatsApp install file that both predates the launch of iOS 8 and is linked to your own personal account: no easy matter. And other than that, we (and the rest of the tech press) have been unable to really crack this issue. Give our methods a try, but prepare yourself for potential disappointment.
There are four sections to this article:
- How to use WhatsApp Web on your iPad
- Alternatives to WhatsApp Web for your iPad
- How to install WhatsApp on your iPad (iOS 8 workaround)
- How to install WhatsApp on your iPad
How to install WhatsApp on an iPad: Can I use WhatsApp Web on an iPad browser?
Excitingly, WhatsApp has launched a browser-based client for its messaging service. This allows users to access the messaging service from a web browser on their Mac or PC. Users can send and receive not only messages but voice notes, media and contact details easily. The best part is that the web client supports notifications so you’ll never miss a message, and once its viewed on a browser the notification is cleared from your iPhone.
There are a few limitations to the service – WhatsApp Web supports Chrome, Opera and Firefox. It’ll still work in Safari and Windows Edge, but the company notes that not all features (namely being able to record voice notes) will be available. With regards to tablets however, there isn’t any ‘official’ support, which we can’t quite understand. Sure, iPads and other tablets don’t have their own phone numbers and therefore can’t register an account, but with the introduction of WhatsApp Web for browsers, why aren’t there tablet equivalents for those that use iPads instead of PCs?
Anyway, we digress. We’ve made an amazing breakthrough, thanks to a tip off from commenter Karen, that allows us to access WhatsApp Web from an iPad using Safari. We detail how to this below, but make sure you keep reading to find out about an unofficial WhatsApp Web app available for the iPad offering a better overall experience.
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Step 1) Open Safari on your iPad and head to web.whatsapp.com. Upon loading the page, you’ll notice that it doesn’t take you to the WhatsApp Web interface and instead takes you to the WhatsApp home page.
Step 2) Tap on the URL and swipe down to access the ‘top drawer’ of the favourites menu that appears when typing a web address. You should see an option that says “Load desktop site” – tap it.
Step 3) The page should reload and display the familiar WhatsApp Web interface displaying the QR code to pair with your iPhone. Using your iPhone, head to Settings > WhatsApp Web and scan the QR code to pair the two devices together.
Step 4) Success! The page should reload and display all your recent messages along with any media or voice notes sent to you.
It’s worth noting that there are a few limitations when using this workaround. The first limitation is that you can’t send voice notes, as the browser isn’t officially supported by WhatsApp (although you should still be able to play them). The second limitation is that unlike when the service is used on a Mac or PC, notifications from web browsers aren’t supported on iOS and so you won’t receive notifications of incoming messages. Apart from that and a few small bugs, the service is pretty easy to use and is a great alternative for most WhatsApp users.
Admittedly, using WhatsApp Web via Safari on an iPad isn’t a great experience because it wasn’t designed with the iPad (or Safari for that matter!) in mind. Developers realised there was a gap in the market for a great WhatsApp Web app for the iPad, and we’ve been seeing apps appear in the iPad App Store ever since. Many of these apps simply load WhatsApp Web via a built-in web browser, and it doesn’t provide a great experience – swiping is laggy, and push notifications (if offered) tend not to work properly.
There is one that stands out from the rest, to us at least; 20-year-old medical student Ryan Peggs developed “Messenger+ for WhatsApp”, a WhatsApp Web app that has been optimised for touchscreen devices. According to Peggs, Messenger+ for WhatsApp wraps WhatsApp Web in a native app, providing smooth scrolling, keyboard responsive user interfaces (ideal for those of us with keyboard cases) as well as real-time notifications.
He claims that other developers use a method that flies in the face of Apple’s guidelines, playing a ‘silent song’ in the background whenever the app is closed to keep it alive, which will of course cause unwelcomed battery drain and also stops users from being able to use apps that require sound. Messenger+ for WhatsApp uses background continuation and background app refresh to pull messages from the WhatsApp servers, as any good app should.
Messenger+ for WhatsApp supports a myriad of features offered by WhatsApp Web, including notifications, sending & receiving of messages, photos and videos, as well as being able to create new groups and chats, edit your profile picture and update your status. In fact, the only features currently missing from the app are features not supported in any WhatsApp Web app on the iPad – the ability to record audio messages, and to initiate/receive voice calls.
Messenger+ for WhatsApp is available for iPad completely free of charge, and includes limited advertising that can be removed via an IAP (which is fair enough really for a free app) as well as the option to passcode/Touch ID protect the app but again, this is enabled via an IAP.
If you want to install WhatsApp on your iPad natively, it's a pretty much impossible task - although with this being said, we've found a handful of workarounds on the next page, though these are only for users running iOS 8 or earlier.