As explained by WhatsApp:
“Throughout the last year we’ve seen significant increases in people calling one another on WhatsApp, often for long conversations. Last New Year’s Eve, we broke the record for the most calls ever made in a single day with 1.4 billion voice and video calls. 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.”
WhatsApp doesn’t specifically note how many of those calls are occurring via its desktop app, but the new capacity provides more ways for its 2 billion users to stay in touch, with fully encrypted voice and video options now available on your desktop PC.
That is, of course, if WhatsApp still has 2 billion users. The recent backlash over its scheduled privacy update sparked millions of downloads of alternative messaging apps, which could have seen many users migrating away from WhatsApp. Clearly, that backlash was significant, because after taking out full-page newspaper ads to better explain the update, and working to provide more understanding of what it actually meant (i.e. none of your personal data would be shared), WhatsApp finally backed away from the change, and is now looking at how to roll it out in a more gradual way in the coming months.
Will the added desktop calling capacity ease that process at all? I mean, the two are not really related, but still, maybe having more calling options will be more appealing, and could see fewer users looking to get away from the app, if they’re still not sure about the update.
It is worth noting, however, that the update relates to data sharing of interactions with businesses only – WhatsApp will look to share information on people’s interactions with businesses with parent company Facebook in order to improve the business experience, and facilitate ad targeting.
So now you have more ways to connect via WhatsApp – though the update doesn’t relate to the web-based version of the app. People will only be able to make calls via the dedicated WhatsApp desktop app, not via browsers, which is a relevant distinction here.
Either way, it could facilitate more connection – with people and businesses – in the app.
WhatsApp says that it will look to expand desktop connection to group voice and video calls in future.