WhatsApp has released a new beta of its desktop app for Mac as a Catalyst app. The new beta is native to Apple Silicon (M1 and M2 Macs), and features a different design than the current app that is available in the Mac App Store.
The current stable version of the WhatsApp app for Mac is developed using Electron, which is a cross-platform framework. Instead of being optimized for a specific platform, Electron is not resource or battery friendly on Mac. This is why, WhatsApp is working on the new Catalyst app, which shares its framework and features with its iOS counterpart, and could also hint at an iPad version coming soon.
Unlike the previous beta, which was downloadable from WhatsApp’s website, this new Catalyst beta is available via TestFlight. To install the beta, you will need to install TestFlight on your Mac first, and join the beta using this link. At the time of writing, there are still slots available in the TestFlight program.
Pairing is done using the standard “Linked Devices” feature in the iOS or Android apps. Once paired, there is a small delay for the initial sync to complete. The new WhatsApp beta features a yellow icon and a collapsable sidebar in its interface, that contains links to chats, calls, archives, starred messages, and settings. If you collapse the sidebar while in chats, it looks like the older app. However, you are not able to access the other sections of the app without the sidebar.
As per WABetaInfo, features like chat syncing do not currently work well, while features like status, group calls, location sending, and sending voice messages are not part of this test build yet.
In our testing so far, the Catalyst WhatsApp app uses lesser CPU cycles and memory and launches much faster. However, since it is an early beta, it is very buggy and unstable. The good thing is that you can install it alongside the current WhatsApp app that can be downloaded from the Mac App Store or from WhatsApp’s website.
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