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WhatsApp group calls are rolling out to everyone, but don't ditch Skype just yet

Group audio and video calls are finally rolling out to all WhatsApp users, but large parties will have to use an alternative service.

Published onJuly 31, 2018

WhatsApp group calls.
  • WhatsApp group calls are now rolling out to all, following a test run with a small group of users.
  • The feature was first announced at Facebook’s F8 conference in May.
  • Group audio and video calls are limited to four users, so it’s not a Skype replacement just yet.

Facebook originally announced group audio and video calls for WhatsApp back at the F8 conference, before opening it to a subset of users. It looks like the feature is now ready for prime-time as the messaging platform has announced availability for all users.

According to a post on the WhatsApp Blog, the feature started its rollout yesterday (July 30). Sit tight if you haven’t received the functionality just yet, it should appear soon.

Do note that group calls have a four-member limit, so you can’t conduct a large-scale meeting via this route. It’s far from a Slack or Skype call replacement right now, but it could be handy for small groups of family and friends.

To get started, initiate a call or video call with a contact, then tap the add participant icon in the top right corner. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to quickly initiate a call with an entire WhatsApp group. I have a group of four (including myself), so a shortcut would’ve been handy here.

WhatsApp to get handy 'mark as read' and 'mute' shortcuts in notification shade
A WhatsApp app icon closeup on a smartphone. This is the featured image for the most common apps on android

The team insists group calls are end-to-end encrypted and will work in a variety of network conditions. It’s unclear which version of the app is required for group calls, but updating to the latest version is always recommended. In any case, I enrolled in the beta programme and received the feature on version 2.18.232.

Other WhatsApp features to have landed in recent months include suspicious link detection, the ability to hide photos from your gallery, and new group admin controls.

What else would you like to see on WhatsApp? Fire away in the comments section below.

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