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WhatsApp update: PC and web log-ins will now require biometric authentications on Android and iOS users

Photo credit: Dimitri Karastelev (@dkfra19) / Unsplash

WhatsApp is making headlines again, but not because of its widely discussed privacy policy changes. The messaging platform released an update focused on its desktop app and the WhatsApp Web that adds another layer of security when users log in.

WhatsApp updates PC and web access

While WhatsApp is primarily designed to be used on mobile devices, users can open their accounts and continue chatting with their friends through desktop computers. WhatsApp already has Windows and Mac apps and the WhatsApp Web, allowing people to send and receive messages through browsers and without installing anything.

With the new update announced this week, WhatsApp will require its users to go through biometric authentication before logging in through desktop apps and WhatsApp Web. Before this update, linking WhatsApp accounts to a desktop computer only required scanning a QR code.

Users will now see a prompt on their mobile device asking to confirm their identity through face and fingerprint recognition before scanning the QR code. "The face and fingerprint authentication takes place on your device in a privacy preserving manner - by design, WhatsApp cannot access the biometric information stored by your device's operating system," WhatsApp explained.

Since the app was primarily developed for mobile use, most of the controls for linked accounts to web and desktop platforms are still available on iOS and Android devices. For example, users are notified on their mobile gadgets whenever their WhatsApp account is activated on a desktop app or browser. Linked accounts can also be logged out from the desktop at any time through the mobile app.

WhatsApp delays controversial privacy policy ultimatum

Before this update, WhatsApp has been constantly on the news following its announcement that users will have to agree to its new privacy policy to continue using the app. It brought to light the subject of user data collection for advertising purposes, which does not sit well with many users.

WhatsApp previously told users that they needed to accept the new terms by Feb. 8. Many have responded by finding alternative messaging apps that they deem have more privacy-focused measures, such as Telegram and Signal. Both apps reportedly gained millions of new users over the last weeks, while WhatsApp was forced to delay the ultimatum in accepting its new policy. Instead of Feb. 8, users will have to agree to the changes by May 15.

Featured photo by Dimitri Karastelev on Unsplash

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