Idea for WhatApp on ubports

  • I think the most efficient solution for the problem of the missing native WhatsApp app on ubports could be using the official webapp.

    You would need two things for that:

    • an old phone with an operating system supported by WhatsApp, e.g. Android, iOS or Windows.
    • a wrapper app for the official WhatsApp webapp that can do the storage stuff needed to keep up the connection

    The old phone can be used as a server, permanently connected, somewhere in your home. And the webapp can function pretty much in the same way as the native app (probably with some restrictions).

    I tried this approach, but I'm not able (yet) to create a wrapper app for ubports and when I tried with the built in browser it would forget the session after every restart of the browser.

    Maybe there is someone out there who could get the official webapp working reliably and wrap it into a native app?

    – Thomas

  • I have said from the start that we need a Whatsapp app. This is one of the things that is preventing me from having my Touch phone as an everyday phone and I am sure this is thecase for many others. We need to have one or many others will not even consider our os. This however Thomas does seem very complex for the everyday user.

  • That is how I use WhatsApp on my devices. I use the WhatsApp webapp from the old Ubuntu store. That seems to remember my logins between app restarts.

  • @te-online said in Idea for WhatApp on ubports:

    I think the most efficient solution for the problem of the missing native WhatsApp app on ubports could be using the official webapp.


    I do not miss any What's Ape app on my beloved Ubuntu phone.

  • @guru said in Idea for WhatApp on ubports:

    @te-online said in Idea for WhatApp on ubports:

    I think the most efficient solution for the problem of the missing native WhatsApp app on ubports could be using the official webapp.


    I do not miss any What's Ape app on my beloved Ubuntu phone.

    Same for me. In my opinion, UBports need to focus on similar goals to Purism Librem 5:
    security by design and privacy protection by default and running Free/Libre and Open Source software like Matrix.

    Of course everyone is (and will be) free to implement access to proprietary systems over UBports UT.

  • @UKPhil Even if you said from the start, there is no help that it does not work unless they give us an API description or Facebook develops the App for us 😛 - seriously, I don´t see this coming soon, if ever. UT will never have the necessary "capabilities" (tracking of users) like Android and iOS have, and this is part of how WhatsApp is capitalized. Without ad tracking its pretty useless and costly for them. So why they should develop this App for us?

  • Well, I was writing this after watching the latest Community Update. I simply don't agree with the statement: “moving everyone to Telegram is the only solution”.

    Let me elaborate. I don't agree with Facebook's business model. It is not something one would strive towards. Hence, I wouldn't advocate that Facebook develops any apps for ubports. (Besides they probably wouldn't, as @Flohack explained. It took them a long time to create a client for Windows Phone and it still breaks the keyboard when composing messages.)

    In contrast, what I want to promote is the idea of bringing “legacy” apps to ubports. They don't have to work in a great way, they just need to work. And my only requirement for that is for the respective service to offer a browser-based version. As long as something works in a browser, we should be able to make it work on ubports.

    Once again, I don't think convincing everyone you ever want to communicate with to use your technology of choice is the way to go. (It is one way, though.) I think instead we should hack together smart bridges that allow us to merely use this – in my eyes – “legacy” technology in a basic, but reliable way.

    For WhatsApp I think the webapp connection is feasible. @arubislander, I tried the webapp from the store, but turns out – surprise – the WhatsApp webapp is not fully responsive, that is, it doesn't fit the screen without scrolling. For now it kind of works, but I think maybe a custom stylesheet could fix this horrible experience.

    I'd love to look into optimizing this at a later point and will keep you updated if I make any progress 🙂

    @UKPhil, as much as I see the need for a working WhatsApp client, I have to agree that a native client simply won't happen. Firstly, everyone creating an inofficial client will face legal threats from Facebook and, secondly, the motivation of Facebook to create a client themselves is probably even lower than we think. We have to accept this and – this is my point of view – are able to work around this.

    While it isn't great to force people through a more complex process than downloading an app and signing up, it is a solution that is only slightly more complex than installing ubports itself and ideally requires as good as no maintenance.

    Also, the time might work in our favor here, because popular webapps get better every day.

    – Thomas

  • Personally, I have no issues with never using Whatsapp again. To tell you the truth I hardly ever use it and when I do it is with long gaps between as I have all my contacts on Telegram. That was hard to do with some of my friends and some people just simply refused to move from Whatsapp. Hence I have not spoken to them in months. People could say that they were never friends to start with and that if they do not want to move then stuff them. However, that is what we will face more and more and that will prevent our os from reaching truly great numbers.

    I have Telegram on my work laptop, all my mobiles and tablets and it works nice. I was willing to download a free app and run with it. However, we have to face the reality that a lot of potential future users of our os simply will not and that will stop us from tapping into this market. For me only having on device at a time connected to Whatsapp is not usable, but there again the call function is good.

    I understand what you are saying but to get everyone to move is really hard and to say we have not got a solution is not going to work for the masses either.

  • @UKPhil I totally get your point there, and it is very valid, in my opinion.

    The question is, if ubports wants to aim at reaching these target groups, you describe, just now – at least in the near future ubports might want to focus on a user group inbetween, consisting of users like you and me, willing to join the discussion, make a sacrifice to use a different and flexible operating system on their mobile devices.

    I could imagine the user base growing from “very geeky” to “very interested in tech and keen on experimenting” to “slightly techy” to a “mass market”. So, I don't think the first step should be to have all the shiny apps “for the masses”, but to have a nice platform for experts as well as enthusiasts.

    But I guess everyone has slightly different expectations of ubports and its future and only time will tell who is “right”.

    Edit: And you're right, the webapp will only work on one device at a time 😞

    – Thomas

  • Well I am pondering now the fact that as soon as someone reaches a worldwide monopoly status with his products, he might have the duty of letting others participate in his market. So if we assume, WhatsApp has more or less taken over the worldwide messaging market, there is no way for competitors to participate. Even SMS is more or less dead now 😉

    There was a EU court decision that in such cases the monopolist must publish his interface code to let others participate. But this was back in the days against Microsoft, and probably it does not apply here. But it would be worth a legal study maybe 😉


  • Yes, despite all difficulties, I find this topic very interesting. It's also not that people use WhatsApp because they like it so much over competitors, but that it was the first to offer free, but SMS-like services in a few markets, then acquired by Facebook.

    Since the app is effectively free, and chats are now supposed to be end-to-end encrypted, the question remains how Facebook wants to monetize WhatsApp. Maybe metadata is enough for them or they are just interested in holding a good market share in this area...

  • @UKPhil @te-online
    mmmmm i fully agree with a realistic way of productivity. if the mobile-device would be 100% pure linux to the core, it is a noble ambition. but there are not enough codewriter to fix this. i can be wrong and i hope that pure librem had a great success. but its mostly the usabilty of a device-os, thats let grow a big comunity.
    on one hand we have only a few codewriter ( me as example bloody newcomer) on the other hand we have a lot of work to do that the ubports-os stay alive with new hardware, browser-compatibiliy, new harder specifications of firewalls, ssl-protocols, android/libhybris.....
    whatsapp is a big thing. stupid question: why is it not possible to send wahtsapps to telegram and backwards?

  • I think that there are a lot of valid points here and I agree with what everyone has said. I think the idea about the monopoly could be right and may be worth wile to try and get the api's from facebook.

    The idea of being able to use Telegram to both contact WhatsApp users and Telegram users would be the ideal situation and would resolve this in one go. However this would take the Telegram down the road of the multi chat app, something I am not sure it is best to do

    From my understanding of the issues it is all due to the fast that facebook will not publish their whatsapp api's thus controlling the apps that use their service. If they did we could make something up. I might be wrong there so if I am please feel free to correct me.

  • The only reason why i need to have an extra android phone is whatsapp, mostly because of work, they use whatsapp groups and i am always forced to carry 2 phones.

    If somehow ubports can get whatsapp and a high end phone like oneplus 5 then i would burn andriods phones.

  • @bq4.5 Re/ about have to use What's Ape: I have two sons, 11 and 7 years old, which play for some years in a local sports association handball. This year the association communicated that they would create What's Ape groups for the communication of sports events, where to play next, against which other team, etc. I mailed to them: I have e-mail, SMS, Telegram, phone and if they would insist in What's Ape I would cancel the participation of my boys in this association because I do not have and do not want to have What's Ape.

    The communication stays by email.

  • @UKPhil said in Idea for WhatApp on ubports:

    From my understanding of the issues it is all due to the fast that facebook will not publish their whatsapp api's thus controlling the apps that use their service. If they did we could make something up. I might be wrong there so if I am please feel free to correct me.

    Yes, you are absolutely right. This is not about the missing ability to create such an app, but about restrictions on Facebook's side that make it impossible to create a client app without reverse engineering an official client. At least this is my current state of knowledge. Hence my suggestion of the cumbersome, yet working, usage of the webapp together with a “server device”.

    @guru said in Idea for WhatApp on ubports:

    The communication stays by email.

    And I'm guessing this didn't make you the most popular Dad in the group of parents 😉 You're absolutely right to do this and it is very idealistic and admirable – don't get me wrong! There is just the fact that WhatsApp is very convinient for many people, because they use it all the time and so they try to fit it to every use case they can find – and Facebook also tries to make the app adapt to these new use cases. Whereas you and me, not even “users” (“...and what is this Telegram, by the way?”), explaining the drawbacks and privacy implications of WhatsApp sound highly outlandish to the ears of many WhatsApp users.

    – Thomas

  • Hi! I'm also interested in making a whatsapp app for this OS. I tried Telegram instead but none of my friends have it on their phone.. However I try to convince them to change their habits 😉
    I just start with ubports and have installed Ubuntu onto Nexus 5 (hammerhead). There are minor bugs but it works pretty well 😉
    Thanks to the dev!

  • @guru , there is a big difference between school/sport and your work. I can't tell all of them use telegram or else. Maybe in few years 😛

  • @bq4.5 I can not imagine that your work contract requires you MUST have a mobile device with WhatsApp, and if so, I'd not sign such contract.

  • @revoltevidente you have made a very valid point here about the contacts you have. This is what I see will always be the issue if we as an is do not have a what'sapp app for our is.

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