The use of WhatsApp anywhere outside of your phone usually still requires your phone nearby and online to sync messages between the two. This applied to the web client as well as the old desktop software, which was also web-based. Though with the newly updated version, the app can finally stand on its own without relying on your phone.
As WhatsApp explains on its FAQ page, the new desktop app is native to Windows, which means a faster and more responsive application. While only the Windows version of this native app is available for now, the company says that it is working on one for macOS as well. The look of the new version is mostly very familiar, with subtle changes here and there which shouldn’t affect your ability to make use of it.
This likely coincides with the multi-device capability of WhatsApp leaving beta and getting a general release. The company previously announced that it was testing this feature all the way back in June, with beta testing beginning just a month later. At the time, the company announced that it would allow users to have up to four other devices, excluding your phone, to use the messaging app.
This test would later be extended to tablets, both of the iPadOS and Android variety. In addition to non-phone devices, WhatsApp is also working on what it calls Companion Mode, which extend multi-device use to another smartphone.
At the time, WhatsApp explained that your phone running the messaging app is effectively holding the identity key, acting as the “source of truth”. Now, with multi-device support, each device connected to your account will get its own identity key, allowing them to work independently of your phone.
You can download the new desktop version of the WhatsApp application by hitting the link below. No word on when this multi-device capability will be extended to tablets and other phones for general users just yet though.