WhatsApp is rolling out video calling today to its billion-plus monthly users. That’s basically the entire story — if you’d like to use it, update the app, open a chat, and tap the familiar video camera icon in the top-right corner. The video chat results look like the video chatting you’ve done before on FaceTime, Skype, Facebook Messenger, or Google Duo: two faces, one in a smaller window, with a handful of small features for changing the position of the chat windows or turning the camera around.
That video calls took until November 2016 to arrive on WhatsApp reflects the app’s cautious — some might say glacial — approach to product development. WhatsApp launched in 2009, but group chats didn’t come until two years later, and voice calls didn’t come until four years after that.
But 2016 has been unusually productive for WhatsApp, which Facebook bought in 2014 for $22 billion. This year the company introduced a desktop client, end-to-end encryption, and features for writing and drawing on top of photos. The company also wants to mingle its data with Facebook’s, so as to eventually make money from businesses chatting with you on WhatsApp, but Europe is having none of it.
Follow these steps to sign up for the WhatsApp beta program and enable WhatsApp video calling on Android:
- Open Google Play and search for WhatsApp
- Open WhatsApp’s Google Play listing
- Scroll dow towards the bottom of the page
- In the section that says Become a beta tester tap on I’M IN
- Confirm on the next screen and wait for a few minutes
- Come back to WhatsApp listing page on Google Play
- You should see an option to Update WhatsApp to beta version
- Update the app
Here’s how to make a video call within WhatsApp:
- Open WhatsApp (of course!)
- Go to the Contacts tab
- Find and tap the contact you want to initiate a WhatsApp video call with
- Tap on the phone icon towards the top of the screen
- From the popup choose Video call
That’s it – you’ve just made your first WhatsApp video call