Instant messaging service WhatsApp has started running internal tests for new features that will let its users make audio and video calls within groups of their contacts. A feature that has been a regular staple of other mobile messengers like Facebook's Messenger app is something WhatsApp has yet to deliver to its user base, but the latest reports reveal that team is at least working on catching up with the competition. The references to group calling were found in the recent 2.17.70 beta version of the app, but also in official screenshots of the app on WhatsApp Blog that clearly show symbols for video and voice call within the group chat.
Last week, WhatsApp has updated its mobile app with the feature that allows the users to share their location. Called Live Location, this feature works in real time and dynamically updates your location when you’re on the move with several privacy options like setting the duration of the visibility of your location. The official WhatsApp blog spoke in more detail about the inner workings of this new feature, but also showing the feature in action for both one-on-one and group chats. Those screenshots actually started the investigation about the group chats getting voice and video call options, when keen-eyed folks noticed that WhatsApp’s group chat example showed more than just shared locations. The icons on that screenshot match the existing ones when you’re making a call to one of your contacts, basically confirming that the app will get group call functions sometime in the future. It also seems it was confirmed that there are even more references on video calls, but also noted that it will arrive after the voice call for groups feature rolls out. Currently, you can make voice and video calls to only one of your contacts at the time.
Even if these features aren’t big news when it comes to mobile messaging apps, it’s evident that WhatsApp is making progress as a platform and adding features many of its users have been asking for a long time. Group calls might not arrive until next year, as the dev team is working on some yet to be announced features, which are believed to be the ability to unsend the messages and more settings for groups. Considering the Live Location is just starting to roll out, WhatsApp users will have to be a bit more patient to see what are the devs planning for the future.