WhatsApp is allowing users to make voice and video calls on desktop for the first time.
It will allow the Facebook-owed messaging app to challenge the likes of Zoom, Apple’s FaceTime and Microsoft’s Skype.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been responsible for a huge boom in video calling, with people unable to meet up face-to-face.
Zoom was one of the hallmarks of the first lockdown, and is still going strong despite people tiring if the format one year on.
In April 2020, the service peaked at over 300 million daily meeting participants, up from just 10m in December 2019.
WhatsApp is now hoping to steal some of that success.
How will WhatsApp calls work on desktop?
You will be able to make both voice and video calls via WhatsApp’s desktop app.
Initially only one-to-one calls will work on desktop, but WhatsApp said it plans to allow group calls in the future.
Desktop calling is supported on:
- Windows 10 64-bit version 1903 and newer
- MacOS 10.13 and newer
To make or receive calls on desktop, you’ll need:
- An audio output device and microphone for voice and video calls
- A camera for video calls
- An active internet connection on your computer and phone. The call won’t go through your phone, but it needs to be online to establish the call
- To grant WhatsApp permission to access your computer’s microphone and camera
“Answering on a bigger screen makes it easier to work with colleagues, see your family more clearly on a bigger canvas or free up your hands to move around a room while talking,” WhatsApp said in a blog post.
“To make desktop calling more useful, we made sure it works seamlessly for both portrait and landscape orientation, appears in a resizable standalone window on your computer screen, and is set to be always on top so you never lose your video chats in a browser tab or stack of open windows.
“With so many people still apart from their loved ones, and adjusting to new ways of working, we want conversations on WhatsApp to feel as close to in-person as possible, regardless of where you are in the world or the tech you’re using.”