WhatsApp is adding voice and video calls to its desktop app, allowing users to both make and answer calls on their computer. It’s a welcome new feature, but not one that’s quite ready to square up to Zoom just yet.
Announced in a blog post today, the ability to make and answer calls in WhatsApp was previously only available in the mobile app, with desktop users restricted to text like lowly peasants. Now computer users with webcams can also share the vision of their shiny foreheads — though only with one other person at a time.
Like its text chats, WhatsApp’s voice and video calls have end-to-end encryption, meaning the company can’t snoop on you and your long-distance (or socially-distanced) partner during your completely wholesome date nights. This may make you feel a bit safer when breaking out embarrassing pet names or showing each other your stamp collections.
However, WhatsApp’s polyamorous users will have to continue fumbling with their phone — at least for now. Both video and audio calls through the desktop app will only work one-on-one at launch, though WhatApp intends to expand eventually to enable group calls. But as of now, this limitation on the number of call participants makes it a poor substitute for your office Zoom meetings.
Both audio and video desktop WhatsApp calls will work between computers and phones as well as computer to computer, so you don’t have to worry about whether the person you’re calling can answer on their device. The desktop app will also be compatible with both portrait and landscape mode for mobile to immobile video calls — a boon to anyone who’s ever had to interrupt someone to tell them to rotate their phone.
Further, WhatsApp’s desktop video will be in a resizable standalone window which will remain on top of any others, helping you maintain the thin charade that your partner has your undivided attention. Which they really should have if it’s date night, but I’m not gonna tell you how to manage your relationship.
Desktop audio and video call functionality for WhatsApp has been rumored for a while now and has reportedly been in the works for several years. Now that the coronavirus pandemic has separated so many people from their loved ones, causing demand for video conferencing to surge, it seems like the ideal time for it to finally be rolled out.
WhatsApp’s desktop app is currently available on both Mac and PC.