Whatsapp, the $19 billion app used by over a billion folks, may finally be ready to support video calls. As Android Police noticed, the feature now works for some Android users, even without an update. However, anyone can try it by installing the latest beta (2.16.318), which is up on APK Mirror. If you do so, you’ll notice a camera icon next to your contacts and will be able to place video calls provided your friends have the feature, too.
Hopefully it will stick this time. A Whatsapp beta from May had video calling enabled, but the company pulled it shortly afterwards. The feature is becoming more common with chat apps — parent company Facebook’s Messenger app has supported it for over a year on mobile. Other popular apps, however, like Telegram and Signal, lack video calling for now.
The feature wasn’t turned on for me in the latest release, but I was able to use it by installing the APK beta. After my colleague Nick installed it too, I was able to place a video call between France and the UK. Both sound and video quality were excellent, though both of us were on WiFi with fast (1 Gbps and 60 Mbps) connections.
It’s good news for folks who can spare the data, but Whatsapp users in the developing world will probably stick with text unless they can get a solid connection. Even then, the most popular way to use video in many countries is to send short video clips back and forth, as the NY Times recently observed.