The WhatsApp messaging app is displayed on an Apple iPhone on May 14, 2019 in San Anselmo, California
The WhatsApp messaging app is displayed on an Apple iPhone on May 14, 2019 in San Anselmo, California

WhatsApp update brings eight person video chats

New feature comes as people use group chat services to talk through coronavirus update

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 28 April 2020 17:36

WhatsApp has doubled the maximum number of people in its video calls as the use of such services soar.

The company will now allow eight people to talk at once through the service, either through video or voice conversations.

As with WhatsApp's written messages, all conversations conducted in video chat are end-to-end encrypted for security, and the company said the feature had been developed with "lower-end devices and slow network conditions" in mind.

Many other services allow far bigger group calls – Facebook's other platform, Messenger, now lets as many as 50 people in a chat at once – they typically do not include the same assurances about data use or security.

The new update comes partly in response to the coronavirus pandemic that WhatsApp noted "has meant that many of us are isolated from friends and family".

As people are stuck in lockdown, the use of group chat apps and video meetings has surged. WhatsApp said that it had seen "people all over the world are turning to voice and video calling on WhatsApp more than ever before".

Facebook had announced the new update last week as part of a range of new features coming to its chat apps. As well as the expanded WhatsApp group calling, it said also that it would launch new, huge Messenger meetings and new ways of going live on Instagram.

It also noted that WhatsApp is available on Portal, Facebook's device for the home, which includes a camera and a microphone to allow people to talk to friends. While that hardware received criticism and questions over its privacy and security when it was first released, it has seen something of a re-evaluation as lockdowns have come into effect, with many praising its built-in video calling.

WhatsApp said that there are 15 billion minutes of WhatsApp video calls each da

y, which it said is "well above a typical day before the pandemic".

Any user can get the new expanded calls by downloading the latest version of the app on iPhone or Android. All users on the call are thought to need the update to be able to join a bigger chat.

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