Telegram finally adds group video calling

The service initially planned to release the feature last year.

Brett Putman for Engadget

The long wait for group video calling to come to Telegram is over. With the latest version of Telegram’s iOS, Android and desktop apps, users can turn their group voice chats into video conference calls. You have the option to pin someone’s video feed to your screen so that they stay front and center even as new participants join the call. Unsurprisingly, you can share your screen if you need to put on a presentation or want to show something off. Here, you have the option to share both your camera feed and screen at the same time.

With today’s release, group video calls are limited to the first 30 people who join a voice chat, but that’s a number Telegram says will increase “soon” as it expands voice chats to support live events and other new features. You can take part in group video calls on your phone, as well as on tablets and computers. On those latter devices, Telegram will take advantage of the additional screen real estate they offer to give you a better view of everything that’s occurring. Specifically, on tablets you can open a side panel to see a split-screen view with both a grid of video participants and a list of everyone in the call.

Not even counting the fact Telegram is adding group video calls later than many of its rivals, it’s been a long wait for the feature to come to the messaging app. Back in April 2020, Telegram said it would add group video calling sometime later that same year. The end of 2020 came and went without a release. Then, almost exactly a year after its initial announcement on the subject, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov said the company would release the tool sometime in May. Obviously, Telegram missed that deadline too, but now that group video calling is finally in the app, you have to imagine many Telegram users will appreciate the addition.