It's been more than four years since Telegram added support for voice calls, and in the time since, everyone has been asking, "What about videos?" The feature's absence has been even more annoying in recent months, given quarantine measures and people's need to stay in touch with friends and family. The wait is finally over, as Telegram just rolled out an experimental alpha release of video calls with Android app version 7.

If one of your contacts also has v7.0 installed, you'll be able to start a video call with them. The interface is straightforward with options to flip between front and rear cams, turn off video, mute, and hang up. Tapping the window in the bottom right switches between the two participants.

In my testing with my AP colleague Manuel, all calls routed the sound through the earpiece at first for both of us. We thought the volume was too low then realized the loudspeaker wasn't being used. Tapping the volume button on the top right fixes this, but the fact that the loudspeaker isn't utilized by default shows that video calling is indeed still in an early development stage.

As far as we can tell, there's no PIP support when you switch away from the video, and group video calls don't seem to be supported either, so Telegram still has a way to go before the feature is as functional as similar solutions from WhatsApp, Viber, Google Duo, and others. But for now, we know the feature works and is in active development.

Edit: PIP works, but you need to tap the back arrow on the top left while in a call to trigger the permission pop-up. If you use the back gesture on your device, you don't get asked for that permission. Once you allow Telegram to display over other apps, going back (whether with the arrow, the back gesture, or by leaving Telegram and going home) triggers PIP and you can continue your call no matter what you're doing on your phone. Thanks, Dusan K!

You can get the latest version of Telegram with video calling functionality from the Play Store or over at APK Mirror. Despite the wonkiness we experienced, video calls themselves are already pretty stable for an alpha, so it can only get better from here.

Video calls were initially only available in Telegram beta. They're now available for everyone in the regular Telegram app. The article has been updated accordingly.

Telegram
Telegram
Developer: Telegram FZ-LLC
Price: Free
  • Thanks:
  • Pritam Ghosh