WhatsApp trials video calls with up to eight people

Twice the chat.

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Video calling has taken on an important new focus in recent times, with the likes of Meet and Zoom seeing a surge in use as millions of people around the world stay at home. WhatsApp, which could previously only support up to four people on a video call, has been lagging in this respect, but the platform could be set to double that number.

According to WABetainfo, WhatsApp is about to roll out the option of having up to eight participants in a group voice or video call, although everyone will need the latest iOS or Android beta update installed to take part. There will be two ways to initiate a call. Either open a group and hit the call button — if there are more than four people in the group (the previous call limit), you’ll be asked which contacts you want to call. Or, you can hit “new group call” in the calls tab, and select which contacts you want to call. Whichever way you go about it, though, you won’t be able to include people if they’re not already saved in your phone’s contact list.

Obviously WhatsApp was never going to be able to compete with dedicated video-calling platforms during the coronavirus crisis, but by upping the group chat call limit it does make it easier for friends to keep in more personal contact on the fly, rather than scheduling meetings or having to share meeting codes and so on. The eight-participant option is still in beta, although like dark mode that usually signals the intention of a wider release. Keep the app up to date and you should see the option soon.