Mobility

How to use WhatsApp to send encrypted messages

If you have not tried WhatsApp Messenger, you're missing out on encrypted, unlimited messages with images, video, and audio. Get up to speed on installing and using the app.

whatsapphero.jpg
Image: Jack Wallen

WhatsApp Messenger is an incredibly easy to use and popular mobile messaging system that is encrypted end-to-end for all users. One reason it's popular is that the app allows users to exchange texts and media messages through their internet provider data plan or using Wi-Fi without having to pay for SMS.

SEE: Facebook-owned WhatsApp hits one billion monthly active users

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WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform tool that allows users with an iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone, or even Nokia device to seamlessly message one another. You can also create groups and send unlimited images, video, and audio messages.

The only caveat to using WhatsApp is that you can only message people who use WhatsApp. For instance, if your contacts are using Google Hangouts or their default messaging app, they won't be able to communicate with you unless they install WhatsApp.

Here's how to install and use WhatsApp Messenger on a Verizon-branded Nexus 6.

SEE: Tech Pro Research's Mobile Device Policy

Installing WhatsApp Messenger

  1. Open the Google Play Store on your Android device.
  2. Search for whatsapp.
  3. Locate and tap the entry by WhatsApp Inc.
  4. Tap Install.
  5. Read the permissions listing.
  6. If the permissions listing is acceptable, tap Accept.

After the installation completes, you should see a launcher for WhatsApp Messenger in your App Drawer or on your home screen. Tap the launcher to fire up the application. The first time you use it, follow these steps.

  1. Agree to the EULA.
  2. Grant WhatsApp permission to access your contacts.
  3. Grant WhatsApp permission to access your photos, media, and files.
  4. Verify your phone number.
  5. Enter your device phone number and then tap the Send button. WhatsApp Messenger can automatically detect the verification code, so you don't have to open your current messaging app to retrieve the digits.
  6. Grant WhatsApp permission to send and view SMS messages by tapping ALLOW when prompted. WhatsApp will finally detect the incoming verification code.
  7. Enter a name for your profile and tap NEXT.

Now you're ready to begin using WhatsApp.

Using WhatsApp Messenger

From the main window (Figure A), tap the message icon, and all of your contacts who use WhatsApp Messenger will appear.

Figure A

Figure A
Image: Jack Wallen

The WhatsApp Messenger main window.

If you have contacts that are not using WhatsApp Messenger, tap the Contacts tab, scroll through to find the contact, and tap the INVITE button (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B
Image: Jack Wallen

Inviting contacts to use WhatsApp Messenger.

Beyond that, using WhatsApp is as simple as using any other messaging app. You might want to check the ability to configure the media auto-download. With this feature (Menu | Settings | Data Usage), you can define what is automatically downloaded when using mobile data and when connected to Wi-Fi (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C
Image: Jack Wallen

Defining what is downloaded by connection type.

To prevent anything from auto-downloading while using your data plan, uncheck Images for mobile data and check everything for Wi-Fi (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D
Image: Jack Wallen

Enabling everything to auto-download when connected to Wi-Fi.

One of the best messaging apps

Give WhatsApp a try, and see if it doesn't quickly wind up becoming your default messaging app — at least for contacts already using or willing to use it.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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