WhatsApp has finally launched video calling, rolling out to over a billion users globally starting today.
There’s been no shortage of rumours suggesting WhatsApp has been planning to introduce video calling, but the feature has finally gone live on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. The service is completely free to use, although you may still face data charges depending on your phone network. Alternatively, you can video calls over Wi-Fi, which will be perfect for anyone with an unlimited data plan.
To use the new feature. head into a conversation in the WhatsApp app, and press the call button that lives in the top right corner. This will bring up a prompt that lets you choose video or voice calling – hit ‘Video’, of course. You can make video calls using your front or rear camera, and you’ll also have options to hang up or mute your microphone. And as expected, you’ll see your call recipient in full-size on the screen, with a small picture-in-picture pop-up of your own face also display.
“We’re introducing this feature because we know that sometimes voice and text just aren’t enough,” reads a WhatsApp blog post. “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.”
It continued: “Over the years we’ve received many requests from our users for video calling, and we’re excited to finally offer this feature to the world. Thank you for using WhatsApp and we promise to keep working hard every day to improve the service."
WhatsApp first launched back in January 2010, but didn’t launch voice calling until earlier this year. By June 2016, WhatsApp reported that more than 100 million voice calls were being made each day through WhatsApp, which makes the move to video calling no surprise.
But WhatsApp has no shortage of rivals in the video calling space, notably from Apple’s FaceTime, which has become a byword for smartphone video chat. However, WhatsApp has always succeeded by virtue of its cross-platform functionality, so the new video calling feature is sure to be popular with iOS and Android users who like to intermingle with users on rival platforms. Traitorous folk, we know.
WhatsApp is actually owned by Facebook, after an acquisition back in 2014 saw Zuckerberg’s social network snap up the chat app for a staggering $19.3 billion. However, the introduction of video calling now gives Facebook an even better footing to take on rivals like Apple (FaceTime), Microsoft (Skype), and Google (Duo).
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What's your favourite way to send messages? Will you be using WhatsApp's new video calling feature? Let us know in the comments below.