WhatsApp on Tuesday rolled out its video calling feature in a phased manner to over a billion users around the world across multiple platforms (iphone, Android and Windows).
WhatsApp, which currently offers messaging, group chats and voice calling services, is hugely popular in India, with over 150 million active users.
In a blog post, the company announced that it was committed to making quality video “available to everyone, not just those who can afford the most expensive new phones or live in countries with the best cellular networks.”
Its video quality is optimised to work with poor bandwidth and connectivity, unlike services like Skype that get affected if bandwidth is poor, a huge advantage in a country like India with poor connectivity.
The release of the video calling feature has placed WhatsApp in direct competition with a number of popular apps like Google’s Duo and Apple’s FaceTime.
Other cross-platform apps that support voice calling include Viber, Facebook Messenger and Skype. But how secure are all of them?
WhatsApp already has end-to-end encryption in its messaging and voice call features and has said the same would apply to its video-calling feature. This way, there is technically no possibility of someone tapping into calls or texts, not even the company itself.
Earlier this year, CNN reported that the Facebook-owned app was blocked in Brazil because it refused to provide user data to help with criminal investigations.
In October, Facebook added a ‘Secret Conversations’ feature to its Messenger app (which includes video calls) but users are required to manually opt for it every single time it’s launched. Facebook Messenger also does not have end-to-end encryption.
Israeli app Viber also claims all its features are end-to-end encrypted but does mention that user information may be disclosed to law enforcement, governmental agencies, or authorised third parties under certain conditions. Snapchat follows the same policy.