WhatsApp adds voice and video calls to its desktop app

The service is starting with one-to-one calls, with the promise of group calls in the future.

demaerre via Getty Images

One-on-one voice and video calling is now finally available on WhatsApp's desktop app for Window and Mac. The Facebook-owned messaging service only offered the feature on its mobile app until late last year, when it started testing it by rolling it out to select desktop users. Chosen testers saw call and video chat icons marked "Beta" in the chat header — now that the feature is officially available on desktop, everyone can use it whenever they want to talk to their contacts on a bigger screen.

In its announcement, the service said it has seen "significant increases in people calling one another on WhatsApp, often for long conversations" over the past year. That doesn't come a surprise, seeing as people have been using video and voice calling services more since the pandemic hit to stay in touch with friends and family in the midst of lockdowns and quarantines. "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," the announcement continued.

By offering video calls on a bigger screen, in particular, users will be able to see their loved ones more clearly. Also, it'll free up their hands so they can move around or do other things in the middle of conversations. WhatsApp's voice and video calls for desktop work in both portrait and landscape orientation, appear as standalone windows users can resize and are set to always appear on top of other open applications.

At the moment, only one-on-one end-to-end encrypted calls are available in an effort to ensure they'll work perfectly on desktop. That said, WhatsApp promises to expand the feature to include group voice and video calls in the future.