WhatsApp rolls out new video-calling feature

India has now 160 million monthly active users of WhatsApp, more than anywhere else in the world

WhatsApp’s head of business Neeraj Arora (left) Manpreet Singh, product lead.
WhatsApp’s head of business Neeraj Arora (left) Manpreet Singh, product lead.

New Delhi: WhatsApp Inc., the world’s most popular instant messaging app, launched its long-awaited video-calling feature in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Starting on Tuesday night, the feature will roll out to its more than one billion users globally who will be able to make video calls across the three platforms of Android, iPhone, and Windows devices.

The Facebook-owned messaging service also announced that India has now 160 million monthly active users (MAUs)—more than anywhere else in the world—making it the perfect place to announce the new video calling feature.

Also, WhatsApp is now available in 10 different native languages.

WhatsApp’s head of business Neeraj Arora added that video calling ties in perfectly with the mission of the company that is to help in connecting friends and family around the world.

Like its other features,the video calls will be free and simple to use. According to Manpreet Singh, product lead, WhatsApp: “This is great timing for us to launch video calling in India with the proliferation of smartphones and the advancement in mobile networks.”

Added Jan Koum, chief executive officer & co-founder, WhatsApp:‘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.”

The new service will be optimized for a country like India that often struggles with poor connectivity and network issues. Similar to WhatsApp messages and voice calls, video calls will be fully encrypted end-to-end. This means that anyone with malicious intent trying to intercept or snoop into conversations will not be able to access any data. The WhatsApp video-calling will be available to all users running the latest version of the app.

WhatsApp has come a long way since it started out in 2009 simply as a place to update status messages. It added group chats in 2011 and voice calling in 2015. Singh mentioned that voice calling had been an instant hit, with over 10 million WhatsApp calls made daily.

Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 for $22 billion and this year the company enabled end-to-end encryption, made WhatsApp available on desktop and introduced the draw and add emojis feature. And now with the introduction of video calling, WhatsApp joins other big players in the field like Google, Apple, and Snapchat.

A little late in the day maybe, but given that it has amassed over a billion users already and is under Facebook’s tutelage, this move could help WhatsApp reach its next billion users.

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