Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp is rolling out its much awaited 'video calling' feature. The feature, in its beta version, is being tested by users who are members of Android's beta programme.
WhatsApp has introduced video calling on the beta version v2.16.318 of the app. While one needs the latest beta update to make and receive video calls, users on the older version too may receive video calls but can't make one. The functionality appears to be working across several beta versions, from v2.16.316 onwards.
WhatsApp instead of adding another new button for video calls has baked-in the functionality right within the calling button on the top right.
The video calling feature is currently unavailable on iOS devices.
How to make a WhatsApp Video Call?
On pressing the dialler icon, the user will need to choose between making a voice call or a video call. Considering that both users will have to be a part of Android's beta testing programme, if the receiver is using an older version, a prompt "Couldn't place call" will appear on the mobile screen followed by a text message "Couldn't place call. Recipient [name of contact] needs to update WhatsApp to receive video calls."
Even as the feature seems to work well in bad network areas, the audio quality on the video call remains a disappointment.
Anyone willing to check out the video calling feature may sign-up for the beta testing programme and test the new video calling feature. However, according to an article on Android Police, many users on the beta version were unable to try the feature. The same article suggests clearing the app data and re-logging in to WhatsApp (backup is recommended before wiping out data).
Mails written to WhatsApp did not elicit any response till the time of filing this report as to when will the feature be rolled out for all users.
WhatsApp rolled out the audio calling feature last year and has been planning the video calling feature for quite some time now. The video calling feature was also spotted in the beta version for testing in May this year but was taken off before being made available for a larger audience.
While there are many existing players in the video calling segment, WhatsApp has to compete with the likes of Skype, Hangouts, Duo among others. WhatsApp's competitors have a huge user base and it might be a difficult market for WhatsApp to tap. But with over 1 billion active users, WhatsApp might just supersede the existing players in the time to come.