While some countries are slowly putting in place measures to restart operation, still, a good chunk of the world remains under strict no school and work from home arrangement as means to contain the spread of the Coronavirus.
As such, demand for video calling solutions has been the highest it’s ever been. Videotelephony and online chat service Zoom, for instance, has seen its daily users zoom to 300 million in just 3 weeks. WhatsApp rival Telegram, noting the demand for video calling at this time, is even promising to build up on its own video calling capabilities by introducing secure video calls soon. WhatsApp video calls are encrypted end-to-end, according to the company.
“Lately Facebook has felt the demand for real-time video. Between WhatsApp and Messenger, more than 700 million accounts participate in calls every day. In many countries, video calling on Messenger and WhatsApp more than doubled, and views of Facebook Live and Instagram Live videos increased significantly in March,” Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, said in a statement last week.
Taking note of all this, WhatsApp has been testing expanded group video calling over the last two weeks.
Today, the expanded group video calling limits are rolling out to everyone, not just those in the beta channel, through the various app stores the app is available in.
The update sees WhatsApp’s over 2 billion users able to engage in video calls comprising up to 8 people.
Given the centrality and popularity of groups, the said video calls can be started directly from groups with the 8-person limit or done directly where one person starts the call and other persons are added to the call, just like one would do on a normal conference call placed directly from their handset on a mobile network. For the former, contacts that are not saved on your phone will automatically not be added in a group video call. Where the number of people in a group exceeds 8, one will be prompted to pick those they want to include in the call.
While the limit raise to 8 people per call is definitely a plus for those that rely on WhatsApp to stay connected to friends, family and colleagues in these *cliche incoming* unprecedented times, there are other options that users can turn to should they need to have more people on the call. Google Duo, for instance, now allows up to 12 users on a single video call after a recent update.
Facebook’s other messaging solution, Messenger, recently received a new feature dubbed Rooms which allows up to 50 users to connect on a video call (Facebook even plans to bring the feature to WhatsApp in a way), matching Microsoft’s offering with Skype but still falling short of Zoom’s 100 person limit.