Video calling has finally arrived on Telegram. The secure messaging app promised group video calls earlier this year at the beginning of coronavirus-related lockdowns, which made applications like Zoom and Google Meet more popular than ever. It has yet to roll out group video calls, but the alpha version of its one—on—one video calling feature is now out for Android and iOS.
You can start a call from a contact’s profile page and switch from audio to video (and vice versa) anytime. The feature also supports picture-in-picture mode, which means you can read your other messages and send replies while talking to a friend. Telegram says video calls, like its audio calls and text chats, are protected by the end-to-end encryption it’s known for.
Since this is just the feature’s alpha version, the developer vowed to roll out improvements that would make it more robust in the future. Telegram’s goal is to introduce group video calls in the coming months, likely in an effort to provide an alternative to Zoom and its rivals.
If you’ll recall, the company took a not-so-subtle dig at the popular group video calling apps when it first announced its plans for the feature: “Video calls in 2020 are much like messaging in 2013. There are apps that are either secure or usable, but not both. We'd like to fix that,” it said. Unfortunately, it has yet to release more details about group video calling, including how many people will be able to participate.