Technology

WhatsApp Group Calling Is Now Live, But Supports Only Up To Four People

WhatsApp Group Calling feature
Image Source: WhatsApp (screenshot)

WhatsApp Group Calling feature – both voice and video – is now available to Android and iOS users. It is among the most-awaited WhatsApp feature, which was promised by the company at Facebook’s F8 developer conference in May. The group calling feature can support up to four people at a time.

WhatsApp Group Calling feature – how to use it?

“We’re excited to announce that group calls for voice and video are coming to WhatsApp starting today. You can make a group call with up to four people total – anytime and anywhere,” the company said in a blog post announcing the new feature.

WhatsApp says the feature has been made to work in unstable network conditions as well. So, you can use the WhatsApp Group Calling feature as long as you have a network connection. Further, the messaging service says that similar to other chats on the platform, group calls are also end-to-end encrypted.

“Group calls are always end-to-end encrypted, and we’ve designed calling to work reliably around the world in different network conditions,” WhatsApp said.

To start the group video call, users must simply start a video call, and select “add participant” from the top right-hand corner of the screen for adding more persons to the ongoing call. After the third user accepts the call, the names of the persons will be shown with a comma separating them. Also, make sure that you use the latest version of WhatsApp.

No change for UAE users

WhatsApp came up with the video chatting feature in 2016, while the calling feature was introduced in 2014. WhatsApp, which has 1.5 billion monthly active users, claims that its users spend about 2 billion minutes per day talking on the phone. With the introduction of a group calling feature, the company will be hoping that users spend more time on the platform.

It must be noted that Facebook Messenger allows group video calls of up to 50 persons, Apple’s FaceTime will work with up to 32 (with iOS 12), Skype supports 25, while Snapchat supports 16 users. Nevertheless, the WhatsApp Group Calling feature will surely be welcomed by users all over the world. However, for the UAE users, it makes no difference as voice and video calls over the internet are blocked in the country.

UAE users are allowed to use WhatsApp only for text messaging and video or image sharing. In UAE, voice and video calls over the internet can only be availed via VoIP-based apps Botim and C’Me offered by Etisalat and du.

In June last year, however, UAE WhatsApp users were able to use the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) function for about a day. Later, the authorities blocked the feature again, confirming their stance on the VoIP.

Other features from WhatsApp

The WhatsApp Group Calling feature is a welcome change for the users as the company lately has mostly been updating the platform with features to tackle fake news. In July, the messaging platform limited the number of forwards per person to five, and also added a “forwarded” label to give users a better idea about the message they were receiving.

“This extra context will help make one-on-one and group chats easier to follow […] WhatsApp cares deeply about your safety. We encourage you to think before sharing messages that were forwarded,” the company said about the “forwarded” label feature. Further, WhatsApp also announced a reward of $50000 to any researcher who comes up with a solution to limit the spread of false propaganda on the platform.

WhatsApp has also been boosting groups and admin controls this year. Now, group admins have the power to restrict other members from changing the description of the group. Further, admins can also select between “All Participants” and “Only Admins” to decide who can edit the subject and icon of the group. Group admins also have the power to restrict participants from sending messages.

Separately, WhatsApp is working on a feature that will allow users to view images and GIFs from the notification bar itself. After the feature is rolled out, users will no longer have to open the app to view the media content. In addition, the company is also testing a new feature dubbed as “suspicious links,” which highlights the dubious links shared on the platform. The feature is currently available on the WhatsApp beta for Android. On the iOS and Windows, the feature will be introduced later with an update.