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More than a billion people can now make video calls on WhatsApp

More than a billion people can now make video calls on WhatsApp
Image used with permission by copyright holder
The wait is finally over. After teasing users with the launch of video calling on the beta version of its Android app late last month, WhatsApp is now rolling out the update to the entirety of its user base. That means iOS, Windows Phone, and regular Android users will be able to make and receive video calls once they’ve update the app.

Seeing as it already boasts messaging, group chat, and voice calling functionality, video calling was the only missing feature essentially stopping the Facebook-owned app from becoming an all-in-one communications tool. Thankfully, that’s finally changing. If you don’t see the update immediately, worry not, WhatsApp promises it will be available to everyone in the coming days. You’ve waited this long, we’re sure you can hold out a bit longer.

In order to make a video call, all you have to do is open up a chat and hit the video camera icon, which can be seen next to the phone icon at the top right of the screen. The video chat interface is similar to what you’d expect to find on FaceTime or Facebook Messenger: a minimal, uncluttered design with a row of buttons at the bottom of the screen that let you switch from your front to rear camera, hang up, or mute your mic. The person you are talking to receives the most prominence on your screen, while you yourself are displayed in a much smaller window during the conversation.

“We’re introducing this feature because we know that sometimes voice and text just aren’t enough,” said WhatsApp in a blog post. “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 move into video calling wasn’t totally unexpected from WhatsApp. In fact, in October, Windows Phone users began reporting that they had gotten the video calling feature on their devices. Once it received its beta launch on Android, it was only a matter of time till it received its general rollout.

WhatsApp users have long requested the video calling feature, but for years it has remained absent from the app. This is a little strange considering Facebook Messenger has had video calling for a while now and WhatsApp is owned by Facebook. Of course, WhatsApp users haven’t been left totally in the dark, as a number of free apps for video calling are available on the Google Play Store. Now that WhatsApp has the feature, however, we’ll have to wait and see how long those apps stick around.

Updated 11-15-2016 by Saqib Shah: Added info on the general rollout of the video calling feature.

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