WhatsApp working on huge free upgrade that will make video calls much more fun

Taking a leaf out of Snapchat's book

WhatsApp on iPhone
(Image credit: Rik Henderson / Future)
Quick Summary

References found in a beta version of WhatsApp suggest that it will soon get new video calling features.

The app will reportedly add filters and AR effects for you to use while chatting.

WhatsApp is reportedly working on a welcome update to its video calls, letting users choose effects and settings to change their appearance – a la Snapchat, Zoom and the like.

The information comes via WABetaInfo, which tracks the additions and tests in beta branches of the WhatsApp app, and indicates that WhatsApp is currently trying out video effects for the application. 

The addition effectively adds a couple of options while you're on a video call or using the camera in WhatsApp. An image of the viewfinder provided by WABetaInfo shows a new magic wand icon floating on it, which would seemingly allow users to touch up their appearances with filters. 

Another set of options at the bottom of the screen offers a bit more control over this too, comprised of "Filters", "Backgrounds" and "Effects". 

WhatsApp Filters

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

This would seem to mean that WhatsApp will get a lot closer to rival video calling apps with its options. Filters would presumably let you put on lens effects and face-filters if desired, while Backgrounds would let you swap in virtual backgrounds as you like as well as blurring yours out. 

Effects, meanwhile, is a more open book, since it's hard to know exactly what options it'll allow ahead of time.

According to WABetaInfo, though, at least one choice can be gleaned from the beta version it's inspected. You'll seemingly be able to use your choice of WhatsApp avatar to stand in for you on video calls (like you would with a memoji on an iPhone).

This would be animated and mimic at least some of your expressions and would allow you to keep your privacy if you're not sure who you'll be on a call with. 

So, this could be a major upgrade and one that would make video calls on WhatsApp much more funky and enjoyable than they already are – although as always with these beta features, there's no guarantee that it'll actually come to the main branch of the app, or when that might happen. 

Still, if you're on a WhatsApp group or two that uses video calls often, keep your eye out for these new features, since they could make things a bit more expressive down the line. 

Max Freeman-Mills

Max is a freelance writer with years of experience in tech and entertainment. He's also a gaming expert, both with the games themselves and in testing accessories and consoles, having flexed that expertise at Pocket-lint as a features editor. He has tested all manner of tech too, from headphones and speakers to apps and software.