Forget FaceTime and Skype, WhatsApp addicts can do video calls from today. The video calling feature was available for Beta users past few months. After testing and tweaking, WhatsApp finally rolled out the feature for Android, iPhone, and Windows devices.
The Facebook-owned firm boasts of more than one billion active users globally. WhatsApp says its latest effort is to pursue its goal of “connecting people”.
“We’re introducing this feature because we know that sometimes voice and text just aren’t enough. 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,” the official blog post stated.
After pressing the call button, users will be asked if they prefer a voice or video call. And selecting the ‘video call’ option will get it started. As the call begins, you can even switch between the front and rear camera.
The feature was made first official in India which is the largest market for WhatsApp. The company’s co-founder Jan Koum told Reuters that video calls will be rolled out to 180 countries within hours after it is introduced in India.
The video calling service will be free as long as you are on WiFi. If not, regular cellular data charges may apply. Just like messages and voice calls, WhatsApp has fully encrypted the latest offering to protect it from eavesdropping hackers.
Additionally, the video calling service is optimized for regions such as India where network connectivity is poor. Neeraj Arora, Head of Business, WhatsApp said, his team worked extensively to ensure that the app worked well on different kind of phones and slower 2G networks.
“That’s what the focus was – if it works in India in different conditions, it will work everywhere else. And that really helped us get so many users so quickly in India,” Arora told The Economic Times.
Early last month WhatsApp introduced new ways users can customize and enhance photos and videos they share with friends and family. The camera features allows to write or draw on photos and videos, as well as add emoji to express oneself.