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WhatsApp on Apple Watch: how to use the messaging service

No Apple Watch app? No problem.

Apple Watch 7
(Image: © TechRadar)

WhatsApp is the world’s most popular messaging service, with an estimated 2 billion global users. 

That’s almost double the users of Facebook Messenger or of WeChat. But despite its global reach, there’s one area where it’s significant by its absence: your wrist. 

Despite years of user demand, there’s still no sign of an official WhatsApp app for Apple Watch.

Is there going to be a WhatsApp Apple Watch app?

To the best of our knowledge, an official WhatsApp Apple Watch app isn’t coming any time soon. Or maybe ever.

Why isn’t there an Apple Watch app for WhatsApp?

At first glance it seems like a no-brainer: of course Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook and the owner of WhatsApp, would want to have the world’s most popular chat service on the world’s most popular smartwatch. But there are several reasons why Meta probably won’t make a WhatsApp app soon, or ever.

The first is that WhatsApp probably doesn’t need a smartwatch app: it’s done pretty well without one, after all, coming second only to Facebook and YouTube in the most popular social networks worldwide. It’s likely that Facebook, as it was still called when it acquired WhatsApp, considered the cost and decided it wasn’t worth it. 

The second and more important reason is that Facebook wants to have a single unified infrastructure for its messaging apps. 

How to get WhatsApp notifications on your Apple Watch

Although there isn’t an official WhatsApp Apple Watch app, the service does support some of Apple’s notifications functionality – so if you have the app installed on your iPhone, you can get its notifications on your Apple Watch too. 

To do that, you’ll need to enable notifications on your iPhone by going into Settings > Notifications > WhatsApp and choosing your notification settings. You want to switch on Show In Notification Centre and Show in Lock Screen.

Once you’ve done that, the next step is to go into the Watch app on your iPhone and tap on Notifications. Scroll down to the Mirror Alerts From section and you should see WhatsApp right at the bottom. Make sure its toggle switch is on (it’ll be green if it is).

You should now receive WhatsApp notifications on your Apple Watch.

How to reply to WhatsApp messages on your Apple Watch

WhatsApp on Apple Watch

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

If you’re using Notifications, tap Reply on your incoming notification and your Watch will give you a selection of pre-defined replies such as “Hello”, “What’s up?”, “On my way” or “OK”. 

But you can also tap on the empty Reply field to add your own custom response, which you can enter via Scribble text input or Siri dictation. There’s also a button for those all-important emoji.

What third party WhatsApp apps work on Apple Watch?

WhatsApp on Apple Watch

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

There are quite a few, although the reviews suggest that what delights one WhatsApp user may not delight another. Some of the best known include Chatify, WhatsUp and WatchChat; our current favorite is WatchChat 2, which is free with a $2.99 in-app purchase to unlock its full functionality. 

The app has been around for four years now and has maintained a pretty consistent four and a half stars out of five in the App Store. Setup is simple: simply scan a QR code and then you’ll be able to access not just messages but group chats, videos, HD pictures, stickers and voice messages. 

Here’s how to install WatchChat 2 on your Apple Watch.

1 On your Apple Watch, press the Digital Crown to go into the Apps view and open up the App Store

2 Search for WatchChat 2

3 Tap on Get

4 Enter your passcode. If you haven’t set one, your watch will ask you to set one before you can continue

5 When the app has installed, it’ll open and after a while, it’ll display a QR code. 

6 Open WhatsApp on your iPhone, go into Settings and tap on the QR code icon to the right of your profile picture

7 Scan the QR code with your phone to link your Apple Watch to WhatsApp

You can now use WatchChat to access all your WhatsApp chats, including group chats, on your Apple Watch. If you long-press on a message you can access the settings screen to adjust audio volume, change font sizes and switch between country-specific keyboards.

WhatsApp on Apple Watch

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

It’s important to note that third party developers can’t predict what changes Meta might make to the core WhatsApp app, so features you rely on today may not be available tomorrow. 

That means it’s important to choose an app that’s updated regularly: if you don’t, you might find that your app becomes less useful over time. That’s another reason we rate WatchChat 2: it’s been updated more than twenty times in 2021 so far.

Why WhatsApp is joining Facebook Messenger and Instagram

WhatsApp on Apple Watch

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

In 2020, Mark Zuckerberg announced plans to integrate Messenger, Instagram Direct and WhatsApp into a single, unified messaging system. 

Part of the reason was to make it easier to find chats: as Instagram’s CO and Messenger’s Vice President said in a statement, “one out of three people sometimes find it difficult to remember where to find a certain conversation thread. With this update, it will be even easier to stay connected without thinking about which app to use to reach your friends and family.” 

If you’re feeling cynical you might note that a single, unified, encrypted system would give Meta complete deniability across all its messaging systems: if it can’t see what people are doing, it can’t be held responsible for or made to moderate any of it. And with anti-trust investigations possibly leading to a break-up of Meta, joining all the services together might ensure their continued existence despite regulators’ best efforts to break Facebook’s near-monopoly in social networking and messaging.

It also appears that Meta would rather you had WhatsApp in your face than on your wrist: in its recent keynote about the Metaverse, Meta showed off a kind of WhatsApp 3D that put chats in virtual reality.

Carrie Marshall

Contributor

Former lion tamer, Girls Aloud backing dancer and habitual liar Carrie Marshall (Twitter, Google+) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to .net, MacFormat, Tap! and Official Windows Magazine as well as co-writing stacks of how-to tech books. "My job is to cut through the crap," she says. "And there's a lot of crap."