WhatsApp Mac app requires Face ID/Touch ID on your iPhone

If you want to add your account to the WhatsApp Mac app, you’ll now need to use either Face ID or Touch ID on your iPhone in order to activate it. The new requirement applies to any iPhone with either of the biometric login features …

The Mac app works in a rather clunky fashion, effectively serving as a front end to the web app. Unlike Apple’s iMessage, the app is not a stand-alone one, but needs a connection to your phone. To achieve this, the Mac app displays a QR code that you need to scan with your iPhone. WhatsApp is now adding an additional layer of security to this to protect your account privacy.

To do this, we’re taking advantage of face or fingerprint unlock where it is available on the mobile phone operating system. In order to link WhatsApp Web or Desktop to your WhatsApp account you will now be asked to use your face or fingerprint unlock on your phone, before scanning a QR code from the phone to link your device. 

This will limit the chance that a housemate or officemate (when we have those again) can link devices to your WhatsApp account without you. This builds on our existing security measures today, which pop up a notice in your phone whenever a Web/Desktop login occurs, and the ability to unlink devices from your phone at any time. 

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. 

The new security update for linking devices will be rolling out, alongside a visual redesign to the WhatsApp Web page on phones, to users with compatible devices over the coming weeks. 

The same applies to Android phones, and the company has updated the instructions on its website to reflect the new requirement.

  1. Open WhatsApp on your phone. 
    • Android: Tap More options
    • iPhone: Go to WhatsApp Settings.
  2. Tap WhatsApp Web or WhatsApp Web/Desktop.
    • Android: Tap LINK A DEVICE. Follow the on-screen instructions if your device has biometric authentication.
    • iPhone: Tap Link a Device > OK. On iOS 14 and above, use Touch ID or Face ID to unlock.
  3. Select the checkbox next to Keep me signed in on the QR screen on your computer or Portal to stay logged in on this device.
  4. Use your phone to scan the QR code on your computer or Portal.
  5. If prompted, tap or select Done.

If you have an older iPhone without biometrics, nothing changes.

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