WhatsApp is more than just a text chat service—you’ve been able to use it to make voice and video calls for as long as I can remember. In fact, WhatsApp has even bolstered its video chat capabilities amid these cheery pandemic times and now allows you to converse with up to 50 people at a time. But you still have to do it via the mobile app, which isn’t nearly as useful as being able to do the same things on a desktop app.
I’ve seen reports that WhatsApp is finally testing voice and video chat calls for the web- and desktop-based version of its service. It’s rolling out the feature to various users now, which means you might not have the chance to play with it yet. Still, the convenience is worth a try; I’d much rather be able to just fire up a webcam to chat with my friends than awkwardly hold a phone for an hour or prop it up against some random thing on my desk.
To get started, make sure you’ve signed up for the WhatsApp beta on Android. Install the most current version of the app offered by the Google Play store, then fire up your laptop or desktop PC. Download the WhatsApp Desktop app, since right now you’re more likely to get the feature there than on the web-based version.
You’ll have to open WhatsApp on your phone to scan a QR code on WhatsApp Desktop, which is how the two link up. Then, if you’re lucky, you should see new icons for video and voice chats within any of your existing conversations in the desktop version. You can’t miss them if you have access, as each icon will say “beta” in the upper-right corner.
I, unfortunately, have lost the WhatsApp lottery, as I just get the default conversation screen (on desktop and web—I checked both, just in case). I’ve circled where the icons would appear, for those lucky enough to have the feature:
My game plan is to check back every few days to see if I’m lucky enough to receive the rollout. If WhatsApp happens to flip this switch for everyone at some point in the near future, I’ll definitely report back.
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