Zuckerberg takes on Zoom: Facebook tests voice and video calling on its WhatsApp desktop site
- Facebook-owned WhatsApp is testing voice and video calling on its desktop app
- The features are available to just beta testers at the moment
- The example shows the voice and video calling options at the top of a chat
- When a call is started, a separate window appears on the right side
- This allows users to continue text conversations while still video calling
Facebook has rolled out voice and video calls to its WhatsApp desktop app in a bid to take on the video-conferencing powerhouse Zoom.
According to the tech blog WABetaInfo, the release is a limited launch, with buttons showing beta labels, and only those selected as beta testers have access to the features.
The options for voice and video calling are displayed besides the search button at the top of a chat window.
Receiving a call or starting one will open a smaller, separate window, allowing users to continue sending messages to others.
Facebook and Whatsapp owner Mark Zuckerberg seems keen to take on Zoom, which has surged in popularity as a video calling app during lockdown.
With over 2 billion users globally, WhatsApp is second only to its parent firm Facebook Inc’s namesake app, yet it is largely used for personal calls, unlike Zoom that saw an increase in business usage this year due to the corona virus pandemic.
And until the new tests, WhatsApp voice and video calling was only available on its mobile site – unlike Zoom which has dominated on desktop.
Facebook has rolled out voice and video calls to its WhatsApp desktop app in a bid to take on the video-conferencing powerhouse Zoom. Facebook has rolled out voice and video calls to its WhatsApp desktop app in a bid to take on the video-conferencing powerhouse Zoom
Facebook is heading the pack when it comes to messaging apps, with its Messenger sitting at the top spot in the US.
Although WhatsApp makes the most-used list, it does not compare to other services used around the world.
The recent update to the WhatsApp desktop version shows that the social media giant has high hopes for the app and even sees it as a Zoom competitor.
Zoom has dominated the video-conferencing market this year, as millions of people were forced into some type of lockdown during the coronavirus outbreak.
The rollout is only available to a limited number of users and it is not yet clear when it will be released to the masses.
It has about 200 million daily meeting participants compared to just 10 million in December 2019.
The firm also made around $690 million in just last quarter that ended in October- and it looks like Facebook wants a piece of the pie.
And the addition of voice and video calling could be its ticket.
However, the rollout is only available to a limited number of users and it is not yet clear when it will be released to the masses.
Facebook seems to be on a new path of making its own apps and features instead of buying already established companies to add to its empire.
Facebook has a long history of pulling a page from other app’s playbooks, with the most well-known instance being Stories in Instagram that resembles Snapchat. Recently, the firm added ‘Reels’ to Instagram that pulls inspiration from TikTok by allowing users to create longer, edited videos
This may be due to the legal issues the firm is facing – the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a groups of state attorneys general sued Facebook last week for ‘anticompetitive practices.’
Such claims, if found to be true, could force the social media firm to sell off Instagram and WhatsApp.
New York Attorney General Letitia James and the other by federal regulators are also accusing Facebook of illegally acquiring its competitors in a ‘predatory’ manner in order to dominate the market.
‘For nearly a decade, Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals, snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users,’ said James.
‘Facebook targets competitors with a ‘buy or bury’ approach: if they refuse to be bought out, Facebook tries to squeeze every bit of oxygen out of the room for these companies,’ her office said.
The coalition of 46 states, Washington DC and Guam has called on judges to rule that Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram were illegal.