After spending a couple of weeks in Beta, and years in anticipation land, WhatsApp has finally made the free video calling feature available to all its users across iOS, Android and Windows Mobile. All you have to do is go to the App Store and update the app (version 2.16.17) and you’ll have the functionality to have a video chat with anyone running the same latest version of WhatsApp. How exactly do you place that WhatsApp video call you ask? Read on to find out.
Making The Video Call
WhatsApp currently only supports one to one video calls. So you won’t find this option in groups.
After updating the WhatsApp app, open a conversation with the person you want to have a video chat.
Then, from the top toolbar, right beside the name of the person, tap the “Video” button. WhatsApp is rolling out this feature in stages. So if you don’t see the video call button, it should appear in the next few days.
If the other person has the latest WhatsApp update installed, the call will be placed, and you’ll see a connecting screen, with a preview of your camera on the screen. If they don’t have the latest update installed or can’t accept the video call (if they aren’t connected to the internet for example), you’ll recieve an error message.
Once the call is placed, you’ll see their camera view on your screen, with your camera view on the top-right.
There are only three controls on the screen – switching between cameras, end call and mute.
You can swipe down in the camera view, or tap the “Back” button in the top-left to engage the floating circle view (much like Snapchat). You can continue the video call, while browsing around or chatting in WhatsApp.
The floating circle only exists inside the WhatsApp app. If you quit the app and go to the Home screen, it won’t be there anymore.
About The Video Quality
It’s only been a day since the feature went live to potentially a billion+ users. But our initial impression hasn’t been great. The video calls we made were grainy and pixelated. And sometimes there was a clear audio lag of a second or two. According to a network monitor utility, the stream never went over 200 Kbps (on a 10 Mbps line). This could just be because the feature is new and WhatsApp hasn’t scaled its servers properly.
But if you’re looking for the best available video calling experience we would suggest you try Facebook Messenger or FaceTime video calls.
The feature is still new and we expect there will be improvements down the line.