After testing for many months, WhatsApp has finally released its video calling feature across all the platforms.
At the time of launch, the company made claims that the newly introduced video calling feature has been optimized so that a smooth calling experience can be experienced even when there is poor connectivity especially in the emerging markets like India. WhatsApp video calling can now be updated by installing the latest version of the app or upgrading the app on all iPhone devices, Android Phones, and Windows phones. With the arrival of the video calling feature, WhatsApp is now all set to compete with the likes of FaceTime, Google Duo, and also Skype.
For the iOS users, the update has arrived through the upgraded version 2.16.17, for the Android users, it has arrived via version 2.16.352, and for the Windows Phone users it will available on the upgraded version 2.16.288. WhatsApp video calling feature will be allowed for access only after the app has been updated, so the users will have to wait for the update to arrive to make video calls. It is worth noting that there have been quite a number of links doing the rounds which have been making alleged claims to activate WhatsApp video calling on the app. It should be noted that all these are fake links and using them should be avoided, as they could be potentially malicious.
There have been quite a few notable features of the WhatsApp video calling feature that comes to mind which have made the first impressions.
Minimal Design Change
The video calling feature is a logical and coherent addition to WhatsApp, which does not bring along much of a design change for integrating to the new feature. For the iOS devices, a button for making video calls is available right beside the call button at the top right edge. For Android users and Windows Phone users, two options, one for voice call and another for video call, will pop-up upon pressing the call button. It is quite impressive that the minimal design has been kept consistent even after integration of such a huge change.
Different Call Interfaces on Different Platforms
Upon clicking the video call button, the selfie camera will be activated and the user can make a video call by using mobile data connectivity or a Wi-Fi connection. The caller interface of WhatsApp is very similar to that of Google Duo, with the button for ‘end call’ located at the bottom of the call page. There are also other options which enable switching back to the rear camera of the phone and also to mute audio. One huge difference that has been noticed is that the Android users and Windows Phone users will be able to receive an incoming WhatsApp video call wherein the call interface shows the face view of the user from the front camera, with options to either accept or decline the video call, whereas, for the iPhone users, the call will be accessible in the form of a notification. After clicking the notification, the users will be prompted to unlock the iPhone, and then the WhatsApp app will be opened to show the video call along with options to either accept or decline the video call.
The video calling feature on Google Duo has a distinguishing tone whereas, for WhatsApp, the same tone is played which has been set on the mobile device for receiving normal calls.
Text While On Video Call
The best part of the update is that the user can continue to chat while a WhatsApp video call is still on. On the Android devices and also on the Windows Phone smartphones, the video pauses, though the call does not get disconnected when the user sends out a message and the call resumes back after returning to the video call screen. However, for the iPhone users, the video call gets converted into a teeny bubble and sits superimposed on the screen while the user continues to chat on WhatsApp, exactly like on Facebook Messenger. The bubble will expand back to the big screen upon clicking, and the user can then continue with the call. The video call does not pause for iPhone users while they are texting, whereas the video pauses for the Android and Windows Phone users, till they finish with their texting.
Better Connections, Better Video
The quality of the WhatsApp video call is bound to differ depending upon the strength of the signal. When the Wi-Fi connections are strong, the video call will be clear, smooth and flawless. There have been reports saying that the quality of the video call reduced a bit while mobile data was used accompanied by a lag in the audio also. There were even reports where the users had experienced call drops and temporary blackouts of video and audio. It turned out that WhatsApp had consumed an average of 12.74 MB mobile data upon making a 4-minute video call.
Though there have been a few lags and setbacks, an overall scenario of the WhatsApp video calling experience seem to be satisfactory. This initial effort taken by the instant messaging service is commendable, given the fact that WhatsApp now panders to almost 160 million monthly active users in the Indian sub-continent alone. Though the data consumption and overall experience of making video calls seems to be better augmented on FaceTime, WhatsApp also doesn’t fall far behind. Although there have been reports about hang backs and blackouts of both audio and video while making a WhatsApp video call, it is still comparatively less when compared to the video calls that have been made on Google Duo on similar connectivity networks.
Though the competitors of the instant messaging app had rolled out the video calling feature pretty long back, WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, took its own time to showcase this feature. This proves that the company is committed to making video calling a flawless experience before it is made available to its huge user base.