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