Popular mobile messaging App, WhatsApp has rolled out a new video-calling feature to users in some parts of the world and this is seen a a threat to Skype.
The video feature brings WhatsApp, developed by former Yahoo engineers, into direct competition with Skype, a Scandinavian messaging company owned by Microsoft since 2011. This has made a lot of mobile phone users wondered why they need skype when whatsapp has a video calling feature.
So let me tell you why you still need skype.
Mobile vs Desktop. WhatsApp is primarily a mobile messaging app while Skype was originally designed for desktops as far back as 2003. You can use WhatsApp for desktop, a feature introduced earlier this year, but it might be safe to say it’s not the most popular way people use it. Similarly, Skype has an app that enables its use on mobile devices including Android phones, iPhones and, of course, Windows phones.
Encryption and privacy. WhatsApp introduced end-to-end encryption earlier this year for all its messaging and calls, and is being extended to video calls too. Microsoft claims some form of security for Skype’s messaging but the human rights agency Amnesty International said it did not add up to “end-to-end” encryption.
In a study last month, Amnesty ranked Facebook’s Messenger, WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage and Facetime, and Google’s Duo and Hangouts among the top for security. Skype, Snapchat and BlackBerry were placed at the bottom.
On the other hand, WhatsApp identities are authenticated because they based on real mobile numbers, whereas Skype users can hide their identities behind nicknames. They can still be traced via IP addresses.
Users should remember that law enforcement agencies can sometimes demand access to calls or messages. While companies such as Apple have fought off such demands, in many cases Facebook and Google have submitted to such requests across the world.
Low-bandwidth options. WhatsApp is believed to have optimized its video feature to work on cheaper phones as well as low-bandwidth. In its blog, they said: “And we want to make these features available to everyone, not just those who can afford the most expensive new phones or live in countries with the best cellular networks.” It did not provide any more explanation
Conferencing. The popular App only allows person-to-person video calls, while Skype has a videoconferencing feature. In fact, soon after WhatsApp unveiled its video feature, Skype rolled out its videoconferencing feature to guest users too, without needing to log in or sign up, Ars Technica reported.
Use case. The Facebook App is predominantly accessed for personal use while business use is dominant on Skype. The mobile app has a user base of over a billion while Skype’s active users are fewer than 100 million. WhatsApp claims over 100 million phone calls each day, a number likely to rise with the video feature.
Cross-platform. Both WhatsApp and Skype work across different technology platforms, unlike, say, Apple’s Facetime and iMessage. This means users on Android phones can call people using, say, an iPhone or Windows phone. Skype also has a paid calling feature that allows desktop users to call phones.