At a time when everyone wants to have a smartphone, it seems the desktop world is just as relevant.
Top companies such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Microsoft and Google have shown their increased focus on the mobile niche, but they haven’t left behind the tons of desktop users from all over the world. In fact, despite the influx of mobile phones, most of these people also own a computer – or at least have access to one, even if it’s at their workplaces.
Skype, the granddaddy of all instant messaging apps, has been offering Skype for Web for more than two years now. The application, which is now owned by Microsoft, allows users to keep in touch with their friends and family using a desktop or laptop. This is essentially what WhatsApp Web and Google Allo for Web offer their customers, but are these three the same? Let’s take a closer look.
WhatsApp Web has been around for a while now, allowing users of the popular chat app to bring their conversation to the web via a computer. Like you may have already guessed – or know – this application uses a web browser such as Google Chrome, Edge, or Firefox.
Setting up WhatsApp Web is very easy, but you must have the mobile phone version in place first. Also, make sure your phone has an internet connection or else, this will not work. What happens is that the mobile app mirrors the conversations to the web version, which means the latter relies on the former.
Once the mobile app is in place, open your preferred web browser and point it to web.whatsapp.com. You’ll be greeted by a QR code that must be scanned in order to log you in. Use your mobile phone to scan the code by opening the WhatsApp app, hit the menu and from the options, tap on WhatsApp Web. This will open your main camera, which is the one to be used to scan the QR code.
The code will be scanned in less than a second and you’ll be able to chat with your WhatsApp friends on web. The interface remains largely unchanged, only that it’s now visible on a bigger screen. On the downside, you don’t get all the features the mobile app offers, for instance, there’s still no support for voice and video calling, all of which are supported on the mobile app.
Remember, if your phone loses connection, you won’t be able to access WhatsApp Web. Also keep the computer connected to the internet the whole time.
Skype for Web
As noted earlier, Skype is the granddaddy of them all, which also makes Skype for Web a veteran in this industry. Even though there are similarities with WhatsApp Web, Skype has a different take.
You don’t need the mobile app version in order to sign in and use Skype for Web. All you need is your username, phone number or email and a password and you’ll be good to go. This web client doesn’t depend on the mobile app like WhatsApp Web, instead, it works independently.
Skype for Web also lets you send messages to everyone in your contacts – the same contacts as the mobile version. You will also be able to make voice and video calls on this platform. Skype also lets users make paid-for calls to non-Skype users, a feature you will also come across on the web version.
In short, everything that the mobile app offers is available on Skype for Web, which makes it a much better web client than WhatsApp Web. To sign into the app, go to web.skype.com with your login details and you’ll be good to go in a few seconds or minute for that matter.
Google Allo for Web
This is the youngest of them all. The Google Allo for Web client was launched this month and so far, it hasn’t even picked up the major features that are already available on the mobile version. Like WhatsApp Web, Allo for Web needs the mobile client in order to sign you in. It also uses a QR code and not a password/username combination like Skype for Web.
Once you are in, Google Allo for Web will import all your contacts and conversations to the web client. Any message that comes in passes through the mobile app before being mirrored to the web client. So far, you can only exchange messages and attach photos, but there’s still no support for Duo video calls from within, probably because the video calling app has not received a web client of its own.
To check out how Google Allo for Web works, go to the page allo.google.com/web and scan the QR code that appears on the screen using your mobile app. There’s an Allo for Web menu option on the mobile app. Tapping on it will open the camera, ready to scan the QR code in your web browser.
Unlike the other two that can be accessed from all major web browsers, Google Allo for Web is still limited to Chrome, but this should change sooner or later.