WhatsApp Goes After Zoom With New Feature

Beforehand, users could only add their contacts to ongoing video calls or initiate video calls from pre-made groups.

WhatsApp Goes After Zoom With New Feature
A collage image of WhatsApp and Zoom. /VIRALTEAKE

Popular messaging application, WhatsApp, has rolled out a new feature that will allow users to join audio and video calls, even those that are not on the platform.

Will Cathcart, WhatsApp Head Manager in Meta, revealed on Monday, September 26 that the feature will make it easy for anyone to start or join calls using a link, in what is termed as Call Links.

“Excited to introduce Call Links on WhatsApp so you can easily start or join a call using just a link. Available for both audio and video calls starting this week," he stated.

WhatsApp's new feature dubbed 'Call Links'. /TWITTER

Users will find the option to create a video link under the calls tab. Once the link is created, they can share it with friends and family to join the video call.

Beforehand, users could only add their contacts to ongoing video calls or initiate video calls from pre-made groups. With the new feature, even those not in your contacts list can join the call.

Cathcart's announcement corroborates with one from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg who announced on  Facebook that the Call Links feature will come to the platform starting this week.

He added that the company is also testing secure, encrypted video calling for up to 32 people from the previous limit of just eight. 

While this is welcome, neither WhatsApp nor Meta have shared in-depth details on how to create “Call Links,” but the functionality is similar in nature to how many video calling apps such as Google Meet, Zoom, and more allow one to create conference calls for participants to join rather than accepting or initiating an incoming video call.

The single screenshot shows a new toggle within the “Calls” tab that will let you “Create a call link,” which is not yet available in the Android version of WhatsApp but is expected to arrive in the coming days.

The Meta-owned app is estimated to use the new feature to compete against the likes of Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams which offer a far greater caller capacity (100 for Google and Microsoft Teams and 300 for Zoom).

However, they include restrictions like call duration for free accounts and might not be the first choice for the billions of people already chatting for free on WhatsApp.

WhatsApp did not mention any restrictions on call duration, which could place it as one of the best free video calling applications for smaller teams and personal networks once the feature is widely available.

President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses a virtual summit of the Organization of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. /PSCU