Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp has introduced a voice and video calling feature on its desktop version, the company said on Thursday.
The company said users will be able to use desktop screens for calls in both portrait and landscape mode, and the calls will be end-to-end encrypted.
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The move to facilitate calls over large screens would put WhatsApp on par with video-conferencing bigwigs Zoom and Google Meet, but it is not clear if it has ambitions to compete with the two in the enterprise space.
WhatsApp, which recorded 1.4 billion voice and video calls on last New Year’s Eve, has benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic as people around the world used video-calling apps to stay connected while sheltering themselves at home.
The messaging platform laid out fresh terms in January, aimed at increasing business transactions on the platform.
The policy update would allow owner Facebook and its subsidiaries collect user data, including their phone number and location, which sparked a global outcry and a rush of new users to competitors Telegram and Signal, among others.
WhatsApp then moved to delay the new policy launch to May from February and sought to clarify the update was focused on allowing users to message with businesses and would not affect personal conversations, which will continue to have end-to-end encryption.
In its latest blog post, WhatsApp said it will start reminding users to review and accept updates to keep using the messaging platform.
“We’ve also included more information to try and address concerns we’re hearing,” it added.
Facebook’s WhatsApp is delaying the roll out of new business features following user backlash over the company’s data sharing practices.
The delay is a setback for WhatsApp’s plan to generate revenue by facilitating commercial exchanges on the messaging app, which Facebook acquired for $19 billion in 2014 but has been slow to monetize.
WhatsApp said on Friday users will no longer have to review and accept its updated terms by Feb. 8, nor will they have their accounts suspended or deleted by that date.
Privacy advocates have jumped on the WhatsApp changes, pointing to what they say is Facebook’s poor track record of supporting consumer interests when handling their data, with many suggesting users migrate to other platforms.
WhatsApp said the planned update does not affect personal conversations, which will continue to have end-to-end encryption, or expand its ability to share data with Facebook.