Facebook-owned WhatsApp is rolling out voice and video calls in its desktop app, completing the experience for customers who can now use encrypted calling on both mobile and desktop.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Voice and video calls are end-to-end encrypted.
  • Encryption works on both mobile and desktop.
  • Desktop group calling is in the works.
  • Desktop calling supports macOS and Windows.

A promotional image demonstrating voice and video calls on WhatsApp Desktop

One-to-one calls for the time being

According to the announcement on the WhatsApp blog, the new experience for desktop users starts with one-to-one voice (VoIP) and video calls. As for one-to-many calls, WhatsApp will expand the new desktop feature to include group voice and video calls “in the future.”

Answering on a bigger screen makes it easier to work with colleagues, see your family more clearly on a bigger canvas, or free up your hands to move around a room while talking. To make desktop calling more useful, we made sure it works seamlessly for both portrait and landscape orientation, appears in a resizable standalone window on your computer screen, and is set to be always on top so you never lose your video chats in a browser tab or stack of open windows.

Desktop calling is supported on Windows 10 (64-bit, version 1903 and up) and macOS High Sierra 10.13 and later. WhatsApp’s been testing voice and video calling on desktop since 2020.

VoIP and video calls have been available on the platform since November 2016, with both iOS and Android apps supporting the feature. With the introduction of video and audio calls on desktop, WhatsApp has finally completed the calling experience for its customers no matter the platform they happen to be using, whether it be iOS or Android, mobile or desktop.

How to call someone on WhatsApp Desktop

To launch a call with the contact, hit the Audio Call or Video Call button in the chat header. The recipient sees a notification in the app when a call comes in.

While on a voice call with a contact, you can request to switch to a video call. To do so, click the camera icon during the call. The contact you’re calling must accept the switch: they can choose to click “OK” or “Switch” to switch the call or “Cancel” to decline.

During the call, a small window appears with controls to hang up the call, mute the call or enable/disable video. Unfortunately, a constant connection with WhatsApp on your iPhone is still required to use VoIP and video calling on desktop (or any other features for that matter).

“The call won’t go through your phone, but it needs to be online to establish the call,” reads a FAQ on the WhatsApp website. Also, virtual audio and video devices aren’t supported. WhatsApp advises using a headset because standalone mics and speakers might cause echo.

More features coming

The Facebook-owned company says it broke the record for the most calls ever made in a single day on Last New Year’s Eve, with 1.4 billion voice and video calls conducted on that day through the service. WhatsApp has been introducing new features at a healthy clip. For instance, it’s currently testing vanishing photos with select users on the iPhone.

The service is also readying an updated privacy policy that users will need to accept by May 15. The new privacy policy governs data sharing between WhatsApp Business and Facebook. People who don’t accept these new terms will be able to receive calls, but not much else.

You can download WhatsApp Desktop from the official website.

Image credit: WhatsApp