WhatsApp has officially announced that group video calls on the service will now support eight people. The announcement is in line with Facebook chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg’s earlier announcement about the same. The limit was earlier set to four, meaning WhatsApp is now doubling the number of participants who can chat on its group video service.
In a blog post about the announcement, the company claimed that users are spending “over 15 billion minutes" per day on WhatsApp calls. According to the company, this is above what a typical day would be for the company before the pandemic. It also reiterated that video and voice calls on WhatsApp are also end-to-end encrypted, just like its text chat service.
“We have built group calling in a way that makes it available for as many users as possible, including people on lower-end devices and slow network conditions," the post said.
Of course, WhatsApp isn’t the only one focusing on video calling during the pandemic. In the same announcement where he spoke about WhatsApp, Zuckerberg also announced a new Messenger Chat Rooms feature for Facebook’s own messaging service, Messenger. That feature allows 50 people to be on a video call at the same time.
There’s also viral video calling service Zoom, which not only has a wide number of enterprise customers, but also allows up to 100 people on its free service alone. It’s possible that WhatsApp will be increasing the numbers over time, but the company’s 2 billion plus user base might be a problem for that. Scaling group video calling for such a huge customer base can be quite difficult, from a server support point of view.
Video calling usage has gone through the roof since the pandemic hit and governments worldwide imposed lockdowns on citizens. Zoom’s stock prices have skyrocketed in a matter of weeks and the company is now more valuable than companies like American Airlines, Expedia and Hilton combined. Zoom’s market cap currently stands at over $31 billion.