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WhatsApp launches video calling globally

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WhatsApp has launched video calling across its Android, iPhone and Windows app, although the feature doesn’t seem to be live for all users yet. The feature has been live on beta builds of the Android app for nearly a month.

About time too…

Video calling has been a long overdue feature on WhatsApp. As data caps increase and internet speeds become faster, users will tend to make more video calls and WhatsApp could stand to lose users to other services. This move will help it offer features more in line with what competitors offer. For example, Google’s Duo, Apple’s FaceTime, Microsoft’s Skype, Facebook’s Messenger and even the messaging app Hike, offer video calling for a while now.

How it works

The video call option is offered along with the voice call option on tapping the call button when chatting with a contact. To use the option, both parties need to have the updated app, or only the voice calling option will be available. The calls work like any standard video call, streaming through the front camera while displaying the other person’s image on the screen. Interestingly, the company had enabled video calling in May this year as well, although it was subsequently disabled for unknown reasons.

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WhatsApp, with 900 monthly active users (MAUs) worldwide, is second only to Facebook’s Messenger in number of users. Facebook claims Messenger to have over 1 billion MAUs, while Hike claims to have 100 million users. Microsoft’s Skype has 300 million MAUs, while other video calling providers like Apple and Google haven’t provided these details.

Note that earlier this month WhatsApp launched a beta version of its app that uses two-factor authentication, allowing users to set a 6 digit passcode for use every time their account is activated on a new phone. It also introduced the ability to play audio messages in the background. It’s not clear if these changes have made it to the current update.

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