WhatsApp rolls out end-to-end encrypted video calling

By , Nov 15, 2016

WhatsApp video calling teaser 001

Facebook-owned WhatsApp announced yesterday that it had begun rolling out video calling to the more than one billion users it claims across iOS, Android and Windows Phone platforms around the world.

According to TechCrunch, video calls on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted just like with FaceTime in order to prevent rogue parties from eavesdropping on your communications.

WhatsApp previously rolled out end-to-end encryption for chats. “We obviously try to be in tune with what our users want,” WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum told Reuters. “We’re obsessed with making sure that voice and video work well even on low-end phones.”

You can call a person you’re chatting with, provided each party has updated their copy of WhatsApp to the latest version, by tapping a new Call button in the top-right. A prompt goes up, asking if you’d like to place a voice or video call.

The in-call screen provides the controls to switch between phone cameras, mute and hang up the call. Video calls use iOS 10’s CallKit to integrate with Contacts and Phone’s Recents/Favorites. They also appear on the Lock screen like regular cellular phone calls. You can place video calls to WhatsApp contacts via Siri, too.

The thumbnail video shown during the call can be moved around and you can also flick a video call in progress to the side to minimize it while chatting. WhatsApp video calling is supported in 180 countries. Facebook has allowed WhatsApp to use its servers and bandwidth around the world for both voice and video.

Other cross-platform apps that support voice calling include Viber, Facebook Messenger, Skype and Google Duo, to name but a few. Of course, Apple’s FaceTime has supported end-to-end encrypted video calling since its inception, but Apple has failed to fulfill its original promise of open-sourcing FaceTime and making it an industry standard.

WhatsApp is also testing a two-factor authentication system in the latest beta, but it’s unclear when this security-enhancing feature might be ready for prime time. With two-factor authentication, a unique one-time code generated by a dedicated authenticator app is required before a new device can sign in to your account on the service.

WhatsApp for iPhone is available free on the App Store.

WhatsApp Desktop for Mac is a direct download from the official website.

Source: WhatsApp, TechCrunch, Reuters

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  • Mr_Coldharbour

    That’s just a very general blanket statement to say that it’s so-called “end to end encrypted.” It all depends on the level/protocol of encryption and whether or not they have access to those video calls. You can’t compare WhatsApp’s “encryption” with that of Apple’s FaceTime. I wouldn’t put much trust in it.

    • TechnoBuff

      Why is Apple Facetime encryption more trustworthy than Whatsapp?

      Do you have a basis for that assertion?
      Funny when people make statements not based on any verifiable fact!

      • mrgerbik

        Trust is an interesting concept when you think about it. Our entire existence as a species depends on it – yet its so easy to misplace.

      • TechnoBuff

        Agreed.
        I respect facts but find it funny when unsubstantiated views are touted as facts…especially by people that have no idea about security or encryption

      • mrgerbik

        I was agreeing with you. Just pointing out what I think the person may believe.

      • Mr_Coldharbour

        Yet you’re the software security expert, I presume.

      • TechnoBuff

        You need to reread your baseless comments about encryption level with regards to video calls…I made no statement nor commented on knowing much about encryption level.
        Simply asked you to state the facts instead of biased and baseless claims about trust when you have no clue what you are talking about… ignorant comments like yours perpetuate the web for no reason.

      • Mr_Coldharbour

        The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) among many other entities and people have made such claims based on verifiable fact not to mention the fact that authorities and governments around the world are trying to do everything get around iOS encryption. Sounds rather trustworthy.

      • mrgerbik

        Your argument is fine, except you’re assuming that the *only* reason collection of data is done is for purely monetary gains.

      • Dave Kurt

        It’s Google… Are you suggesting some kind of security measure? They collect everything and not everyone is a terrorist… What data they collect on us is now beyond security reasons.

      • Mr_Coldharbour

        I don’t think I ever specified that it was for monetary gains (but it is a given that it happens to be the main reason). Other reasons are, but not limited to, to collect data on users and have them readily available for authorities and gov’t agencies because FB, WhatsApp and the like aren’t ready to put their necks on the chopping block in the name of user privacy and security on the Internet.

      • Dave Kurt

        *applaud* well said. I saw Techno’s comment under “Also On iDownloadblog” and I was just about to say (likely far more inadequately than you) the same thing. Thanks for educating us. 🙂 also Elder scrolls! Whoot!

  • mrgerbik

    what if the rogue eavesdropper is facebook itself??

    Naaaaaaaaaa never!

    • Mr_Coldharbour

      Could very well be. They’re as shameless and immoral as they come.

  • Diego Milano

    Has anyone else noticed that they always use super high quality pictures for what’s supposed to be video calling in those ads? The truth is the image quality is not that good when it comes to video calls. 😛 Marketing…

  • diggitydang

    Great. Where’s the Apple Watch app!?!