Everyone dislikes WhatsApp’s Electron-powered Mac app, but Meta now lets you try out a new, native version built with Apple’s Catalyst framework ahead of release.
- What’s happening? WhatsApp has released a beta version of its upcoming native Mac app that looks and feels like a good macOS platform citizen.
- Why care? The existing Mac app, built using the Electron framework, feels out of place and does not support platform-specific features.
- What to do? Download the new app from the official website.
Download WhatsApp’s new Catalyst-powered Mac app
You can download the DMG file by clicking this link:
After installing the app on your machine, you’ll need to link your account by scanning the code with WhatsApp’s mobile app. You’ll immediately notice that the native app has a yellow icon, indicating you’re running prerelease software.
More importantly, it’s much more pleasing to use than the current one could ever hope to be. The interface sports a native sidebar which behaves like any good macOS platform citizen. The sidebar, which can be hidden at will, lets you access the same shortcuts as in the iOS app: Chats, Calls, Archived, Starred and Settings. Read: How to use multiple WhatsApp accounts on a single device
The app feels nimble, with macOS features like spell-checker and drag and drop supported for the first time, thanks to Catalyst. By comparison, the current Electron app doesn’t support dragging and dropping files. Overall, the Catalyst app provides a much more seamless experience for WhatsApp users on the macOS platform.
If you’re going to install this app, a friendly reminder that you’ll be using beta software, so some features may still not work correctly. You can share your feedback with WhatsApp by clicking the bug icon located at the lower part of the sidebar.
Catalyst vs. Electron: What’s the difference?
The Meta-owned messaging software recently began testing a more seamless macOS experience with people on TestFlight. The WhatsApp Beta program on TestFlight is only available to a small number of people due to the limitations of TestFlight. But now, Meta has expanded the WhatsApp Desktop beta to more people by making it available to download directly from its website.
WhatsApp Desktop uses the Electron framework, and it shows. Electron wants to simplify the creation of desktop apps across platforms by letting developers wrap their web code using a version of the Chromium browser engine.
So if you can build a website, you can make a desktop app for macOS, Linux and Windows with Electron. Unlike Apple’s native frameworks that bring platform-specific features for free, Electron apps often lack basic features on the macOS platforms, like spell-checking, drag and drop, native user interfaces and so on. Electron apps also tend to be memory hogs and perform poorly.
WhatsApp iPad app coming, too
Apple’s Catalyst framework allows developers to create Mac apps that share code with their iPadOS counterparts. It automatically translates iPadOS-specific features onto macOS, simplifying iPad and Mac development.
It’s encouraging to see Meta adopt Catalyst for its new native macOS app because it provides so much better, more seamless experience for Mac users than the current Electron app. And thanks to Catalyst, we’ll soon have a proper iPad WhatsApp app!