WhatsApp is rolling out free video calling for its one billion users today, across Android, iPhone and Windows devices. This means that users can now make one-to-one video calls just as they did on Skype, FaceTime, Google Duo and Facebook Messenger.
More significantly, the Facebook-owned company has launched the new service in India, revealing that it now had 160 million monthly active users in the country. This makes India its biggest market in the world. This also makes it bigger than its parent company Facebook, which has 155 million monthly active users in the country. Its popularity in India grew as a result of its simple user interface and localisation -- the app is available in ten Indian languages. It also lets users send free messages and calls if they have an Internet connection.
"Video calling is one of the most requested features from people in India. We're proud to have the opportunity to launch this feature in India, where we now have 160 million users, and we look forward to seeing people use WhatsApp to talk to their friends and loved ones face to face," WhatsApp said in its statement.
Accordingly, the feature will be tweaked for India's slow Internet connections and low-end mobile phones. "We 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 statement said.
Neeraj Arora, WhatsApp's Head of Business, told the Economic Times that the image resolution of the video call will be optimised according to the quality of the network, with calls on Wi-Fi and 4G connections getting a HD quality and 2G networks being streamed on low resolution.
This is how it will work -- when a user goes to the call button in a chat window, they will get the option to either place a voice call or a video call. The video chat looks similar to other video calling apps such as Skype, Google Duo and Facebook Messenger. Users can also minimise the video call to check messages. There will be notifications for missed calls as in voice calls. The app will only support one-to-one video calls for now, and does not have a group calling facility like Skype.
The video calling service will also have end-to-end encryption, a feature that the app introduced earlier this year, implying that people can communicate without fear of the company or the government being able to access messages or voice calls.