WhatsApp is introducing the ability for users to make voice and video calls via the desktop version of the app for the first time.
The messaging platform said one-to-one calls would be encrypted on desktop as they are in the mobile app, allowing users to make calls on their computer’s larger screen.
The Facebook-owned firm said the update would give people more options for how they could communicate with colleagues, friends and family.
‘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 on the update.
‘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.’
The platform said its decision to add calling features to desktop is in response to a ‘significant increase’ it has seen in people making calls on the platform in the wake of the pandemic, as millions of people turned to online communications to stay in touch.
WhatsApp itself broke its single day record for voice and video calls on New Year’s Eve, when 1.4 billion calls were made on the service.
A number of other video-calling services have also seen user numbers drastically increase since the coronavirus outbreak as they transitioned to working, studying and socialising from home.
‘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 company said.
WhatsApp said calling would be limited to one-to-one calls initially, but confirmed it was planning to expand it to include group calls in the future.