When WhatsApp finally got a voice calling feature last year it left us with just one question: when do we get video? There have been plenty of hints at its impending arrival, and now the feature has shown up in the beta iOS app. With Facebook in the driver’s seat, it’s a matter of when, not if, WhatsApp video calling is coming. Here’s what we know about how to make WhatsApp video calls.
Highlight recent changes
Screenshots from the WhatsApp beta version running on iOS show a video call icon at the top right of the chat window, beside the voice call icon and profile picture.
It’s official.. Video-Call for #WhatsApp
— Ilhan Pektas (@0xmaciln)
May 2, 2016
The voice call update is closing in. Many expect the feature to arrive in the next iOS app update in the coming days. Currently, to see the feature, you will need a jailbroken iOS device with Cydia installed.
No such icon or feature has shown up on Android yet, but the update surely will not follow far behind iOS.
In addition to the planned new video and voice features, there is also evidence that WhatsApp could soon allow you to send ZIP files. This function would benefit WhatsApp users who’d like to send files but would like to minimize the impact on their monthly data limits. A potential release for these features isn’t known yet. We’ll let you know as soon as we know more.
How to make WhatsApp video calls
You can’t, yet, but what you can do is send a video clip to your WhatsApp contacts. In order to send video to somebody in WhatsApp, you use the same procedure you’d use to send a photo, an audio clip, your location or somebody’s contact details.
Open a chat with the person you want to send the video, tap the attachment button at the top of the screen (it’s the one that looks like a paperclip) and then tap on the kind of thing you want to send, so, in this case, you’d tap video. You can add a caption if you like, and then you can send the clip by tapping on the send button in the preview.
You can also forward a video sent to you by somebody else. To do that, tap and hold on the message(s) you’d like to forward, tap the forward arrow icon, and choose a conversation to forward the message to. Don’t worry about data use here: while the forwarded message(s) will appear to have come from you, you don’t have to upload the message or messages again. WhatsApp takes care of that.
How making WhatsApp video calls will probably work
WhatsApp might not have video calls just yet, but many rivals do – and you can get a good idea of how WhatsApp video calling should work by checking out alternative apps such as the excellent Viber, which is one of the best instant messenger apps for Android.
In the case of Viber, making a video call means making a voice call first. Select your contact, tap the Free Call button, and wait for the call to connect. Once it connects, you’ll need to tap the Video Call button to move into video calling mode, and the person you’re calling needs to activate it too or you won’t be able to see him, her or them.
You can do the same thing in Skype for Android – there’s a button you can use to turn the video on or off during a call – but unlike Viber you don’t need to initiate a voice call first if you don’t want to. All you need to do is sign in, tap the contact you want to video call and then tap on the video call. If WhatsApp doesn’t do something very similar when it brings in video calling we’ll eat a Nexus.
What if you don’t want to receive or make WhatsApp video calls?
Once again, Skype shows how it’ll probably work: in its Settings card under Voice and Video Calls you can choose between the following options:
- Receive calls from: choose who you receive Skype video calls from. You can use this option to stop unwanted video calls from unknown people.
- Answer calls automatically: select this option if you want incoming voice and video calls to be answered automatically.
- Enable video calling: on most devices, video calling is enabled by default.
- Technical info: select this option if you want to see technical information about your call.
- Video quality: choose your video call quality. The higher the quality, the more data a video call will use.
That all seems pretty sensible to us, and it’d be good if WhatsApp introduced something similar. The app is almost certainly heading in that direction anyway, because now that Facebook owns it, it’s likely to get more Facebook-y and make more use of your Facebook network as well as your WhatsApp contact list.
Are you praying for the day WhatsApp introduces video calling, or would you rather keep your contacts out of the picture? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget that we have a dedicated WhatsApp hub where you can get answers to all your WhatsApp questions!