Facebook-owned instant app WhatsApp today announced it is bringing “fully encrypted” video calling feature to the service. Facebook’s WhatsApp, is adding fully encrypted video calling to its messaging app, a move that comes as privacy advocates worry about the potential for stepped-up government surveillance under a Trump administration.
Trump, along with some leading congressional Republicans and FBI Director James Comey, has advocated requiring tech companies to turn over customer information in many circumstances, a position which, if put into law, could require companies including WhatsApp to completely redesign their services.
From a report on Engadget:
Now, the Facebook-owned company is ready to unleash video calls on everybody and in the coming days will roll out the feature to iOS, Android and Windows devices. When the feature is activated, open a chat and select the phone icon. You’ll then be given an option to place a voice or video call. When we tested the feature, we found that voice and video quality was excellent over strong WiFi, but your mileage may vary if you’re connecting via a mobile or slower broadband connection. While Facebook Messenger users have enjoyed voice calls for over a year and a half, many popular messaging apps like still don’t offer the feature. With over one billion users, WhatsApp’s video calls can connect people all over the world, regardless of their choice of mobile operating system, allowing it stay ahead of apps like Google’s Allo.
WhatsApp is late in adding video calling, a service already offered by Google Duo, Skype, FaceTime, Viber, and others. However, most of the video calling services send the video and audio in the clear, not encrypted. In contrast, WhatsApp’s video calling feature should be secure.
The new video calling app is available to more than one billion WhatsApp users worldwide on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. To use the new feature, WhatsApp users can hit the call button in the top right corner of a conversation, which will bring up an overlaid interstitial asking if you want to voice or video call the friend or family member you’re chatting with. To kick off the video call, you simply select the “video call” option from this screen.
If you do not see the option in your WhatsApp service, wait a few days. The company says rolling the new feature out to more than one billion people will require a few days.