The Facebook-owned WhatsApp looks to further their communication options by adding video calling. On November 14, 2016, the app began to roll out the new video chat feature, adding to the current services available, such as voice calling, messaging, and group chat. WhatsApp hopes to stand out by emphasizing on cross-platform use on a global scale, going far beyond other popular video calling applications, such as Apple’s FaceTime.
In a blog announcement, WhatsApp says, “Today we’re excited to announce the next step in our efforts to connect people – WhatsApp video calling. In the coming days, WhatsApp’s more than one billion users can make video calls across Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone devices.” WhatsApp looks to become more on par with other messaging applications, such as their sister app, Facebook Messenger, and their lead competitors, like Viber, Google Hangouts/Duo, and Skype.
WhatsApp’s competitor, Microsoft also made the announcement that Skype could now be used online without registration, granting users to access a guest account for video-conferencing via its web application.
WhatsApp’s implementation of visual communications follows the introduction of voice calling within the app, which first rolled out in April 2015. After several months of beta testing, WhatsApp plans to release the video calling feature within the next few days.
With the update, there are a few small changes to the user interface. The icon at the top right corner of the chat provides the user the option to either make a voice or video call. Video Call will start a video chat when it is selected. However, if the app has not been updated, then it will simply default to voice calling. The video chat is designed with simplicity in mind, with the option of front- and rear-facing camera, a mute button, and a red phone icon to end the call.
Facebook first announced the acquisition of WhatsApp in February 2014 for 19 Billion USD. Since then, the app has been consistently updated to compete with the leaders of the market, such as Skype. As stated in their blog post, WhatsApp wishes to make the app available through as many platforms, in as many places as possible. “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.”