WhatsApp has announced an update to its popular messaging app that will add group video and voice calling features. The new capabilities are just the latest in a slew of group-related features that have rolled out lately and allow users to participate in video or voice calls with more than two people. Up to four people can take part at any given time from anywhere a connection and the app are available. The new service is also encrypted end-to-end so users don't need to worry so much about privacy. Moreover, the developers have worked to optimize for reliability and usability regardless of network conditions, within reason. The Facebook-owned company says those features are a response to its users spending around 3,805 years in calls within the app every day.
Using the feature is very easy to accomplish with WhatsApp. In fact, since it's built into the previous calling functions, there shouldn't even be much of a learning curve. Once an initial phone call is connected, a new icon will be present in the top-right-hand corner of the interface. That's shaped to resemble the basic outline of a person next to a plus symbol. Tapping it will result allow for the addition of more people. Once further users are connected, the screen will split appropriately depending on the number of individual's in the conversation. For example, four separate screens will be used with each oriented in portrait mode when video calling with three other users. Each participant uses their own portion of the display so that everybody can see everyone else at the same time. On-screen icons for swapping between the back and front cameras and for activating or deactivating the mic or camera are overlayed along the bottom portion of the screen. An 'end call' button sits near the middle.
The update may take some time hitting every device since it is becoming available at the global scale from the very start. That's probably going to be a staggered rollout by region but the company hasn't clarified that or provided any indication as to where or in what order it might arrive. With that said, it is rolling out to Android users now so it should arrive sooner rather than later.