Rumors have surfaced concerning WhatsApp's plans to implement video calls in the popular instant messaging app, which could transform it into a strong competitor of Skype.
Both calling apps sit under strong parent companies: Facebook owns WhatsApp, whereas Microsoft is the owner of Skype.
WhatsApp can no longer afford to stay behind and now offers new features such as video calling. The app's user base tops 900 million, making it almost as big as its parent company. Facebook Messenger already offers the possibility for users to video-call one another, so WhatsApp needs to step up its game.
Last year, WhatsApp officially announced voice-calling, and it might be that 2016 is the year when the app's users will be able to see each other as well.
One question users who got word of the rumor ask themselves is: how will WhatsApp work on mobile Internet?
After WhatsApp brought the voice call feature on both iOS and Android, the hype turned into bleak reality. The reason for this was that users from places with poor Internet signal, such as India, had a hard time carrying a decent conversation through the app.
What this means is that if WhatsApp wants to be a hit, it must calibrate its video-calling to slow networks, especially for countries where the Internet access is still in its early stages.
Macerkopf.de reports that WhatsApp 188.8.131.52 will bring video calls to iOS users. Currently, Apple users may download WhatsApp 2.12.12 from the App Store. Unlike the voice call function which debuted on Android, there is a chance that iOS users will get their hands on the new feature.
According to Macerkopf, users may choose which of the cameras to use when video-calling: the front selfie snapper or the back main camera. The leaked pictures hint at the fact that multiple tabs could work simultaneously.
Packing full video calling into WhatsApp will pit it against contenders such as FaceTime (from Apple) and Skype (from Microsoft).
Skype dominates the video communication field, as it is the oldest and most common software used for video calls. It should be noted that Skype also features text messaging, but it is far from being a prime reason for users to install it. In comparison, WhatsApp gained popularity because of its reliable instant messaging services.
Since Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011, the service took enough lift to make it the first option for enterprise and consumer customers. To compete with Skype's overwhelming presence, WhatsApp will have to come up with quite a strong offer.
It is a fact that the Facebook-owned messaging service has a very consistent user base, and this should help ensure the success of the app. However, the users' numbers could get a boost if FaceTime or Skype users migrate to WhatsApp, and Facebook has the power, resources and tools to make the new service attractive for users.
WhatsApp got a setback after the so-called XcodeGhost virus plagued a number of apps in the App Store. Other victims of the cyber-attack were Tonghuashun, WeChat, China Unicom Mobile Office, NetEase, Railway 12306, WinZip and Cloud Music.
One extra advantage of WhatsApp comes from the marketing strategies of its parent company, Facebook. The largest social media platform proved numerous times that it can attract not just users, but advertisers as well. The money-making machine that Facebook is can help make WhatsApp so attractive to investors that switching over from rival services will be hard to refuse.
Facebook must ensure that WhatApp is an excellent all-rounder, and that it makes good use of its already installed user base, perhaps by incentivizing them to use the video calling option. This is an innovative feature that will provide a convenient chatting environment, and it's the sort of function that could help WhatsApp compete with Skype.