Users accessing the Facebook (FB, Tech30)-owned messaging app on iOS, Android and Windows can now visually chat with friends but also multitask within other apps at the same time.
So if a call goes on for too long, users can distract themselves by scrolling through Instagram.
The feature also has a major emphasis on security. Like messages and phone calls on WhatsApp, the video chat functionality will be encrypted by default. This means only the two devices involved in the conversation can access the shared data.
It's a part of a larger effort from WhatsApp, which is favored by a range of users from high school students to politicians, to make privacy and encryption mainstream.
The feature comes more than a year after Facebook rolled out video chat capabilities to its Messenger app.
While Apple's iOS-only FaceTime video chat feature touts similar security protocols and multitasking features found in the app update, WhatsApp has a leg up in emerging markets where Android devices dominate. For example, Andoid makes up 97% of the market in India.
Meanwhile, Google's new video app Duo includes end-to-end encryption, but the platform is minuscule compared to WhatsApp's 1 billion user base. Facebook recently unveiled a secret conversations feature for texting on Messenger,. However, it requires users to opt-in each time.
WhatsApp's relationship with Facebook might worry some privacy conscious users. Earlier this year, it was announced the texting app would starting sharing phone numbers with the social network, so users could see personalized Facebook ads based on WhatsApp data.
WhatsApps new feature will roll out to all users starting Tuesday. - CNN