WhatsApp launches video calling

Posted Nov 15, 2016 by James Walker
WhatsApp has announced that video calling is rolling out to all its supported apps today. The feature is one of the most popular user requests for the messaging app. WhatsApp's service is now used by over one billion people worldwide.
A court in Brazil on Wednesday ordered cellular service providers nationwide to block the popular Wh...
A court in Brazil on Wednesday ordered cellular service providers nationwide to block the popular WhatsApp smartphone application for two days
Stan Honda, AFP/File
WhatsApp launched video calling across its platform in a blog post today. The company previously trialled the feature with select users back in May. Last month, it expanded the trial to include larger numbers of Android device owners. This week, it becomes publicly available to users of WhatsApp on iOS, Android and Windows 10.
Video calling on WhatsApp is quick to set up. It integrates with the app's existing messaging and group chat interfaces to make it simple to start a call. It works in a similar way to WhatsApp's existing voice call functionality. When clicking the call button within WhatsApp, you'll now be given the option of using voice or video. Once a video chat has been started, your contact's camera feed is displayed on the screen. Your own camera is displayed at the top right of the screen.
WhatsApp has tried to keep video calling simple. It hasn't succumbed to the filters and stickers of its rivals, instead focusing on an experience that's about the people communicating rather than the app itself. Every video call will be protected by full end-to-end encryption, keeping communications secure and protecting privacy.
WhatsApp is coming late to video streaming, several years behind its key rivals. The app is already used by over a billion users though. The company has taken its time to develop the feature, focusing on call quality and making video accessible to every WhatsApp user. The service is frequently used by people in emerging markets with poor network connectivity and costly data plans.
Facebook Messenger rolled out video calls to its users over a year and a half ago. Google Hangouts has had the feature for several years. More recently, Google launched Duo, a brand-new messaging app built to make video calling faster and simpler. It could be a key rival to WhatsApp's new feature.
In a blog post, WhatsApp said it is "excited" to introduce video calling to its platform. The company acknowledged it has received "many requests" from users who want to be able to chat with others face-to-face using its app. The company has waited to ensure its technology works on every phone, keeping all WhatsApp users connected together.
"We're introducing this feature because we know that sometimes voice and text just aren't enough," said WhatsApp. "There's no substitute for watching your grandchild take her first steps, or seeing your daughter's face while she's studying abroad. And we want to make these features available to everyone, not just those who can afford the most expensive new phones or live in countries with the best cellular networks."
Video calls are available in WhatsApp from today on supported devices. The app update is currently rolling out through the App Store, Google Play and the Windows Store. It may take some time to reach every user.