Zoom has got competition! WhatsApp launches desktop calling that lets users make one-to-one voice and video calls from their Mac or PC
- From today WhatsApp is rolling out the update for Windows PCs and Mac users
- It’s just for one-to-one calls – but it will roll out group voice and video chats later
- WhatsApp rolled out voice and video calls for its mobile app about five years ago
WhatsApp has officially launched one-to-one voice and video calls for the desktop version of its chat platform, in what could be seen as a bid to rival video-conferencing powerhouse Zoom.
Starting today, the Facebook-owned firm is rolling out the update for users of Windows PCs and Apple Macs.
Although this initial rollout is only for one-to-one calls, WhatsApp said it will be expanding the feature to include group voice and video calls on desktop at some point in the future.
Answering voice and video calls on a bigger screen will let users see their chat partner more clearly, while freeing up hands so they can move around while talking.
WhatsApp is predominantly known for its mobile app, even though it launched for desktop back in 2015.
WhatsApp has finally launched voice and video calls for desktop. The firm says: ‘To make desktop calling more useful, we made sure it works seamlessly for both portrait and landscape orientation, appears in a resizable standalone window on your computer screen, and is set to be always on top so you never lose your video chats in a browser tab or stack of open windows’
WhatsApp began rolling out voice calls for its mobile app in 2015 and video calls the following year. About half a decade on, it’s now bringing both features to WhatsApp for desktop.
‘We’re excited to announce that private and secure one-to-one voice and video calls are now available on WhatsApp’s desktop app,’ said the firm in a blog post.
‘With so many people still apart from their loved ones, and adjusting to new ways of working, we want conversations on WhatsApp to feel as close to in-person as possible, regardless of where you are in the world or the tech you’re using.
‘We’re starting with one-to-one calls on the WhatsApp desktop app so we make sure we can give you a reliable and high-quality experience.’
WhatsApp is predominantly known for its mobile app, even though it launched for desktop back in 2015
WhatsApp’s desktop interface will work ‘seamlessly’ for both portrait and landscape orientation and will appear in a resizable standalone window on a computer screen.
It’s automatically set to be always on top, meaning users will never lose their video chats when there are multiple applications open.
Throughout the last year WhatsApp has seen big increases in people calling one another on WhatsApp, often for long conversations, due to social distancing.
On New Year’s Eve 2020, WhatsApp registered the most calls ever made in a single day on its platform – 1.4 billion voice and video calls combined.
It’s likely the new update for desktop – which got a limited launch in beta late last year – will prise many people away from Zoom, which has exploded in user numbers thanks to working from home rules during the current pandemic.
From January 2020 and April 2020, Zoom saw 73-fold growth in UK users signing up for a free account. It was also 2020’s most-downloaded free app in the UK version of the Apple Store.
Elsewhere in the blog post, WhatsApp reiterated that all forms of communication – text, photo, video and voice – are end-to-end encrypted ob both mobile and desktop.
End-to-end encryption ensures only the two participants of a chat stream can read messages, and no one in between – not even the company that owns the service.
As WhatsApp pointed out, just because someone is using the desktop rather than the mobile version, nobody will be able to snoop on their conversations.
WhatsApp has consistently and proudly reiterated its commitment to end-to-end encryption – and recently had to clarify to angry users that it wouldn’t start revealing users’ messages to staff at parent company Facebook.
WhatsApp launches new in-app banner where users can review privacy update information – but confirms you’ll have to agree to new terms or risk losing access to the app from May 15
In February, WhatsApp announced a new in-app banner where users can review information about, and agree to, an upcoming policy update.
The Facebook-owned chat app is displaying the small rectangular banner above the chats list.
All WhatsApp users will have to agree to the new policy update by May 15 or risk losing access to the app.
WhatsApp has stressed that the update is merely related to policy changes necessary to allow users to message businesses on the app.
When the changes were announced in January, they were widely misinterpreted by users, many of whom took the drastic step of abandoning the app.
WhatsApp users had thought that the app was about to let its parent firm Facebook read their messages – but WhatsApp has has reiterated that it won’t ever allow this.
WhatsApp will also be displaying messages in the Status section of the app that will declare the its commitment to privacy – and its promise that conversations will remain end-to-end encrypted.
Read more: WhatsApp launches in-app banner to clarify its widely-misinterpreted new terms and conditions