WhatsApp has upped the ante in the battle to be a one-stop shop for communication with the launch of video calling within its app.
The latest update to the popular messaging app, designed to stem competition from the likes of Skype and Apple’s FaceTime, means that users can call one another with real time video.
The one-to-one video calling will become available to all users on Android, iOS and Windows devices in the next few days, WhatsApp said.
With the update, users will be given the option to start a video or voice call when they tap on the phone icon in the top right hand corner of a conversation.
The new feature is the second addition to WhatsApp’s video and photo sharing features in recent weeks. At the end of October, the billion-user messaging app added the ability for users to draw on images in a similar way that they can in Snapchat, Instagram and iMessage.
“Over the years we’ve received many requests from our users for video calling,” said WhatsApp. “We want to make these features available to everyone, not just those who can afford the most expensive new phones or live in countries with the best cellular networks.”
WhatsApp isn’t the only social app to lift features from its rivals. Instagram added Stories earlier this year, which are reminiscent of a Snapchat feature of the same name, while Snapchat now has video and voice calling. Google also launched two new communications apps recently, a video calling app called Duo and a smart messaging one called Allo.
WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook is also investing in video calling on its Messenger platform, and 300 million people use its voice or video calling each month.
Facebook recently added Live Video to Messenger, which lets users send a silent stream of what they are doing at any given moment.
“We launched Instant Video a month ago that enables you to start a video stream with someone that’s in a conversation at the same time you are,” David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president of Messenger, told the Telegraph at Web Summit last week.
“You’ll see the little camera icon pulsating and if you tap on it you’ll start streaming silently in another window to the person on the other side.”
As the video stream is silent, users can open it when they are in a meeting or on the Tube, Marcus said.