WhatsApp finally launches video calling

And it's encrypted, too!

Finally.

In a move that many of its users have been eagerly waiting for, WhatsApp is adding video calling to its apps. The Facebook-owned company says the new feature is rolling out worldwide in the coming days. WhatsApp’s more than one billion users will be able to use the new feature on Android, iPhone, and even Windows Phone devices (we presume that means Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 Mobile).

As with all features from the service video calling will be free. The new feature arrives nearly 20 months after WhatsApp made voice calling available to all its users. Facebook Messenger added video calling in April 2015.

The company didn’t provide many details about how the new feature will work, but The Wall Street Journal says video calling will also be end-to-end (E2E) encrypted. WhatsApp introduced E2E encryption for text and phone calls in April.

WWhatsApp will show a video camera icon next to your contacts’ name when the feature is available. The video calling interface itself appears to be similar to Facebook Messenger’s.

Why this matters: WhatsApp is clearly late to the game with video calling. Skype, Facebook Messenger, Hangouts, Line, and any number of other services already offer the feature. But in the case of WhatsApp, timing really doesn’t matter. The company has no need to win over users or convince people of the value of the service. That work’s already been done.

WhatsApp is the primary method of communication for many people across the world. If anything, WhatsApp video calling has the potential to replace longstanding video calling services that aren’t used as frequently as WhatsApp—assuming, of course, that WhatsApp video calling capabilities are any good.

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Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
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