WhatsApp is the latest instant messenger client and service to introduce a cross platform video calling service, similar in some respects to Apple’s FaceTime and Google’s Hangouts, and Duo applications. WhatsApp is a massively popular instant messenger service that today is owned by Facebook and has a massive userbase of over one billion across the world. The company explains that video calling is one of the most-asked features of the service after voice calling and WhatsApp are now enabling rolling out the video calling technology in stages. This news follows a successful trial for the beta client on the Android and Windows Phone platforms, although it was added and subsequently removed! The company are rolling out the feature for the main client release, which means not all users will see the feature enabled today but it may take a period of time before it is available.
During a conversation with a contact, users will see a call button at the top right of the screen. Tapping this pulls up a dialogue box asking users if they wish to video or voice call. Once in a video call, which works over either Wi-Fi or a mobile data network, customers can switch the camera used, mute and unmute the call and of course hang up. There are currently cosmetic differences between the Android and iOS clients as you can watch in the video below, but WhatsApp’s technology is cross platform. It’s also big business too: in June 2016, WhatsApp reported that over 100 million voice calls are passed through their servers a day. The company are also improving the platform, especially for the three actively supported platforms of Android, iOS and Windows Phone. In recent weeks the company started enabling a two-step verification service for users on the Android beta client, designed to heighten security on the application.
However, not everything that WhatsApp have changed in recent months has been perceived as good news. The company blocked copying and linking to anything associated with the Telegram service, and at the end of Summer 2016 announced a change of user terms that allowed the service to share certain data with Facebook. WhatsApp explained that this change in terms was designed to help prevent spam messages by correlating telephone numbers between WhatsApp and Facebook, but it also allows the Facebook service to make “better” friend suggestions by understanding the relationship between telephone numbers. Nevertheless, enabling video calling is a good feature and catches up with some of the competition. WhatsApp have already explained that their technology is “available to everyone, not just those who can afford the most expensive new phones or live in countries with the best cellular networks.”