WhatsApp is the most popular messaging App, which is currently owned by Facebook (NASDAD:FB), and has more than 1 billion subscribers. WhatsApp has been reportedly testing a new video calling feature for its messaging App as the company drives further into communications. Earlier in April 2015, the company introduced the free voice-calling feature that allows its users to make phone calls over the internet. Even its voice calling feature was considered a big threat to similar Apps like Skype, Viber, etc. If video calling feature also gets added to WhatsApp, it will definitely become a huge rival for similar services like Skype, Google Hangouts and FaceTime, etc.
Based on the reports from a tech magazine “The Verge”, this video calling feature is being tested on a limited basis through a group of beta testers. It seems this feature could be disabled or enabled on the servers of WhatsApp based on their configuration and the company is planning to conduct trials using a group of testers. They introduced the voice calling feature also in similar fashion to their users last year, with a group of users gaining access to the feature initially followed by a wider launch.
Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook has not made any official announcement about the video calling feature yet, but it is expected that they might roll out this feature within this year in a similar way as the voice calling option. There have been rumors prevailing for last few months about WhatsApp introducing video calls to their platform. To support this rumor, screenshots showing Video call button in the beta testing version of WhatsApp havebeen released online. So, people are anticipating that WhatsApp will roll out the video calling feature in their next update, but dates have not been announced officially yet.
Since Facebook acquired WhatsApp, Facebook has been trying to make lot of similarities between WhatsApp and FB Messenger, which is Facebook’s native messaging platform. Earlier this year, FB messenger introduced a group calling option similar to WhatsApp and in the future, we can expect lot of similarities between these two platforms. When WhatsApp introduced voice calling feature last year, it was considered a huge blow to Skype and Viber. Skype was earlier the most preferred App for web-based calls, the service which is also called VoIP or “Voice over Internet Protocol”. But after the introduction of voice calling feature by WhatsApp, many users started moving to WhatsApp. A typical voice call within the same country using WhatsApp consumes about 280KB for 1 minute of talk-time and 1.1 MB for 5 minutes of talk-time. However, there are no official figures announced regarding the estimated data usage for video calls. If video calling feature also gets added to WhatsApp, it will definitely become a huge rival to Microsoft’s Skype as per the reports of Analysts.
WhatsApp supports file sharing of various formats such as VCF, DOCS, DOCX and PDF, which is not supported by Skype. Also, WhatsApp is expected to offer support for sharing Zipped file formats as well in their next update. Also, they have been testing how to send group invites through NFC tags, links and QR codes.
Facebook does not enjoy a healthy relationship with wireless service providers since it is the biggest driver of data consumption for U.S. carriers such as T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T etc. Phone calls and text messages have been the traditional cash cows of telecom industry, but with advent of free messenger applications like WhatsApp, FB Messenger and Viber, telecom operators have suffered huge losses.
Especially in Latin America, Facebook has faced lot of tension with the telecom operators because of the increased data consumption through sharing of videos and pictures. Wireless carriers in India like Vodafone Group and Bharti Airtel have requested that TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) stop phone calls that are made using Mobile Apps. WhatsApp was initially just a text messaging service and was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion.