WhatsApp's 1 billion monthly active users may finally receive what they have been anticipating for the app to support: video calls.
WhatsApp, one of the most popular messaging clients globally, was bought two years ago by Facebook mastermind Mark Zuckerberg for a jaw-dropping $19 billion shellout. Since then, the app's popularity surged, and with a ton of users using the site daily, even the slightest anomaly or change is bound to be spotted.
In the Android app, Android Police seems to have noticed first that a new video call feature has been slowly popping up for some users. The availability seems to be appearing at random, as some users can access the feature even without updating, assuming they have the recent beta versions installed. For those who do have it, if the person you're trying to call doesn't have the feature, it'll end up just being a voice call. The video call UI pops up, but tapping the "video" button renders an error message.
To see if you have the feature, people's contact cards in your list database should now come with options for voice calling and video calling. No official word from the makers of WhatsApp has been issued yet, and there's still no definite timeframe as to when all Android devices will receive the feature.
Engadget's Steve Dent was able to try the new feature out, and he has remarked that both the video and sound quality were "excellent" over a Wi-Fi connection, with the call taking place between France and the UK.
After a video call test run in May that ended up being pulled by WhatsApp, it seems the app is finally ready to integrate video calls this time. For healthy comparison, other popular chat apps already have this feature, such as Facebook's Messenger app on mobile, and more recently, Google's own app dedicated to video calls, Duo.
Longtime WhatsApp users have howled for a video calling feature in the app for a while now, which is just par for the course, given that other clients are already supporting it, let alone its parent company, Facebook, making the absence of video calls on the app a little perplexing. When the video calling feature slowly pushes out a wide release, it remains to be seen how Messenger, Duo and other video calling apps fare given WhatsApp's colossal user base.
But what about iOS? Surely, WhatsApp hasn't forgotten about its users who own iPhones. No word exactly on when the feature will hit iPhones, but it's safe to assume that iOS 10 is also slated to enjoy WhatsApp video calls soon. It seems like WhatsApp is prioritizing Android, for now at least.