WhatsApp has announced today that it will be rolling out video calling functionality across the board. In a blog post, the company wrote that video calling has been an oft-requested feature, and it seems the company had been developing this functionality under the radar. “Over the years we’ve received many requests from our users for video calling, and we’re excited to finally offer this feature to the world.”
By offering video calling functionality, WhatsApp now competes directly with the likes of Skype, FaceTime, LINE, Google Duo and even Messenger, which is owned by its parent company, Facebook. However, WhatsApp wants to differentiate itself by focusing more on accessibility and speed.
“[W]e 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 blog post stated. It is perhaps referring to how Apple’s FaceTime app is only exclusive to its own devices, and how most other apps have hefty minimum requirements, like Google’s Duo, which requires newer versions of Android and iOS to run.
WhatsApp currently counts 1 billion users worldwide running its iOS, Android and Windows app. The company launched its cross-platform app in 2009, initially supporting private messaging and then group chats. WhatsApp then expanded into voice calls in 2014.
While the company seems to be late in the game as regards video calling (Skype offered video calling as early as 2003), WhatsApp boasts the world’s biggest network of users. The app has also retained its simple and straightforward interface, which makes the app light and easy to use, even on older devices. The company itself stresses how it focuses on “help[ing] as many people as possible stay in touch with friends, family, and others they care about” by “making a product that’s simple, easy to use, and accessible no matter where you are.”
WhatsApp is doing a global rollout of its video functionality in stages.
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