WhatsApp just made group video and audio calls easier. But there’s a catch

By: Tech Desk |

Updated: April 8, 2020 3:10:39 pm

WhatsApp just made it easier to do group calls for video and audio. (Image source: AP)

One result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its lockdown in India is that more and more people are relying on video-calling in order to stay in touch with their loved ones and other family members. Given WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in India with close to 400 million users, its video-calling feature has also seen a jump in usage, especially since it is the easiest way for many to call up friends or family.

WhatsApp is now making it simpler for people to do group calls, though it does come with a caveat. The company confirmed that those with groups of 4 or less will be able to do a video or voice call by directly tapping on the respective icon. The call will automatically start with everyone else in the group being a part of this. The only issue is that it is limited to groups of 4 or less.

WhatsApp made the announcement on Twitter. Check out their tweet below

The COVID-19 crisis has seen WhatsApp’s usage soar and not just in India, but also in countries like Italy, which are worst affected by the pandemic. Back in March, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had revealed that they had seen a huge spike in WhatsApp and Messenger calling. ““In terms of stats, we’re seeing very elevated levels of use in Italy and in all countries that have been affected. Calling, right — so in terms of WhatsApp or Messenger for calling is more than double overall what it normally is,” he had said at the time.

He had also cautioned that as the outbreak would increase Facebook would have try and ensure the infrastructure is able to handle all the extra load. Since then, COVID-19 continues to grow across the world and has crossed 1 million cases. In fact, traffic for Facebook and its products has soared during crisis, but the company is struggling to maintain stability as was reported by New York Times.

Also read: Zoom calls: Follow these simple steps to secure your meetings

So how can you get the new automatic group video/ audio calling feature on WhatsApp?

First, just make sure you are upgraded to the latest version of WhatsApp. This feature is live for both Android and iOS. We created a group of four people on iOS and found the audio and video calling worked automatically. Unlike earlier, we did not have to choose the participants in the group to add to the video or audio call.

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The one tap method will certainly be better for smaller groups as one will not have add or pick users to be a part of the call.  Just pressing the audio or video call option will dial all the members of the group.

If you are not part of any group which has less than four or just four members, then it might be time to create one. You can create a group with just your parents and sibling, and then the group call becomes faster.

Keep in mind that WhatsApp only allows a maximum of four participants in a group call. This means you can invite only three people to the video or audio call.

How to add people to group calls in bigger groups?

In a bigger group, just tap on the call button, which appears next to the group name.

WhatsApp will show a pop-up box at the bottom with all the Group Members.

Tick the ones you want to call as part of the group call. Again you can only choose three other members. Then tap on whether you want a video call or audio and the call will be connected.

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