WhatsApp began as a simple text messaging app that allowed users to stay connected via text without paying for SMS. Over the years, it has evolved a lot and added multiple ways to be more expressive while sharing messages. It gained support for sharing media files, audio messages, GIFs, stickers, and more recently avatars. It started beta testing animated avatars a few weeks ago and is now said to be working on adding animated avatars to video calls.
WhatsApp Video Calls Using Avatars
A new WhatsApp beta for Android (version 126.96.36.199) was spotted with the ability to use avatars for video calls. The new feature is available only to select beta testers and they are welcomed with a banner. This banner is titled “Using your avatars on calls” and it goes on to explain the functionality.
WhatsApp says avatars during video calls will mimic users’ facial expressions and movements in real time. This is similar to how Apple’s Memojis work during FaceTime video calls. It is meant to give users one more way of being more fun and expressive during video calls. It is also beneficial when you do not want to show your face and maintain your privacy during a call.
The banner further makes it clear that all video calls will continue to be end-to-end encrypted even when avatars are in use. Lastly, a user can switch to a normal video call anytime they want. The banner then offers two options: Switch to Avatar and Not Now.
We do not have an idea exactly how WhatsApp avatar video calls will look like but it could be similar to how it is on Instagram and Messenger. Meta recently added support for avatar video calls to both of these social media platforms. It is important to note that WhatsApp was reported to be working on avatar video calls last year as well. However since Meta has already released the support for two of its apps, it seems like WhatsApp will finally receive it too.
WhatsApp Channels is another new feature that got a wider global release last week. It is now available in more than 150 countries including India. It is a new way for people, teams, organizations, etc. to share the latest information with their followers. Only the admin can send messages in a channel and followers can only react to those messages. Some of the popular WhatsApp Channels in India are from the Indian Cricket Team, Netflix, Katrina Kaif, Diljit Dosanjh, Vijay Devarakonda, and Akshay Kumar.
The team is also said to be working on third-party chat interoperability. This will allow users on other chat apps to message WhatsApp users without creating a new WhatsApp account. It seems to be under development due to the European Union’s recently passed Digital Markets Act (DMA). This is the reason it is unknown if it will be restricted to European users or will be made available around the globe. We will keep you posted as more details will emerge.