WhatsApp video calling is now finally official. It is now open to everybody no matter the device you are using and what part of the world you are.
That has to be emphasized because in the last couple of months, the idea of WhatsApp video calling features had made the rounds. The recent was a beta version made available to only some users.
At the time WhatsApp was quietly testing the Video calling features, some misconstrued that fact as the full roll out of the feature to WhatsApp users.
You don’t blame them for thinking that way as the over a billion users of WhatsApp were really hoping for a video calling feature especially after new entrant Allo came out with a bang with video calling.
Announcing the welcome news on the WhatsApp blog, the messaging service said that they are
….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.”
This is quite a turnaround for WhatsApp because about six months ago, users were left sorely disappointed after an update to the app did no include the video calling feature.
Using the video calling feature in WhatsApp is quite easy. Though for now there is no dedicated video calling icon. To initiate a video call, all a user has to do is tap the call icon at the top of a WhatsApp conversation. Just like you want want to start a normal call.
Instead of calling the recipient as it used to be before, a pop up would appear asking the user to chose if they want to start a normal call or video call with the person they are chatting with.
Tapping the video call would place a video call.
During video call, a user can decide to use the primary camera or the front facing camera. This is cool for a situation where the front camera is not very sharp or you want to show somebody an image using the back camera.
One can also mute the call if they don’t want to hear sounds without actually ending the call. Ending the call requires only the tapping of the red button on the screen
Like already stated earlier, WhatsApp officially joined the video calling service rather late, at least when compared to other services like Viber, Apple’s FaceTime and of course Skype, which is the industry standard for which other services measure their progress.
One comparative advantage WhatsApp has over all other video calling apps is the number of users using the platform. As messaging platform, WhatsApp is far and away the most popular messaging app with over 1 billion users.
So for WhatsApp, they would be starting at the top because even if only 50% of WhatsApp users start using he video calling service, they’d already be the biggest app offering the service. Even bigger than Skype.
In the months leading up to this feature, WhatsApp introduced several new feature or updates to the app including end-to-end encryption to make chats safer and group chatting feature.
Though the WhatsApp video calling is welcome, the downside for users in countries like Nigeria still remains the cost of data and of course the strength of internet connectivity.