Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

WhatsApp update to bring much bigger group video calls as chat app competes with Facebook Messenger, Zoom and Google

Change comes as people look to app to stay in contact with friends and family through lockdown

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 21 April 2020 11:07 BST

WhatsApp is doubling the number of people allowed in a group call.

The feature, which is expected to arrive with everyone in an upcoming update, comes as people across the world use video chats to keep up with friends and family through lockdown.

The new update will work for both voice and video chats, as WhatsApp looks to compete with other messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger and even business-focused options like Zoom.

For now, the feature is only available in the beta version of the app, as revealed by Twitter account WABetaInfo. The latest test versions of the app for both iOS and Android have access to the larger conversations.

But WhatsApp beta features do almost always roll out to the main version of the app, and so the update is likely to come to all users soon.

At the moment, WhatsApp voice and video chats are limited to four people. The new update allows eight people to join a call at once.

Those users on the beta version of the app can already start the bigger calls – but they can only do so if everyone else in it also has access to the feature.

WhatsApp has rolled out a host of updates amid the coronavirus outbreak and lockdowns across the world. Those have included attempts to minimise the false messages that spread on the network.

The app has become a key way for people to deal with the pandemic, from local groups offering support to vulnerable people in their area to families staying in touch with each other through the outbreak. But that increased usage has led to a flurry of misinformation, which is often forwarded quickly through large groups.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in