Whatsapp rolls out voice and video Group calls

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Instant-messaging giant, Whatsapp is rolling out voice and video-supported Group calls.

Since May, Whatsapp has doubled-down efforts to improve their Groups feature. Some of these include a short blurb for group description, and an ability to search participants in a group. Towards the end of June, they gave more powers to admins such that they can restrict non-admins messaging their groups. For example, a Young Nigerian group administrator only opens the group for messaging on weekends.

Whatsapp has since moved from a chat-only app to a full-on social media service. The acquisition from social media champion, Facebook also hastened the transformation process. They started out making their camera feature more robust in late 2016. Afterward, in February 2017 Whatsapp launched their Snapchat stories clone, Status. The following year, they overtook the ephemeral video-feed market with 450M daily users compared to Snaps’ 191M. In May 2018, they announced that they will be bringing Group video calling to the platform. One year after, it is rolling out to the rest of the world.

Currently, Whatsapp routes 2 billion minutes of calls per day on their service. The free VoIP (Voice-over-IP) call in 2015 was a game changer as more users were compelled to use the product.

Speaking with Augustine Ogwo, the content lead at Eyowo on how he has used the voice/video call feature, he said:

I use it to reach my friends who I have not spoken to for a long time particularly those that are not in the country.

I find it to be MORE ACCESSIBLE than Skype.

He is not alone.

Here are responses from a focus group of three fresh graduates on what platforms they use for calling:

Nnamdi Ujah, an iPhone user says he prefers FaceTime to Whatsapp. He explains, “anyone can call me on Whatsapp once they have my number but on my FaceTime, I can set it to only use my iCloud email account. And not everyone will have that except people I’ve called before“. He continues, “the only reason why people even use Skype is because of the group video calling feature”

Another female teenager mentioned that “Whatsapp is just there on my phone, it comes pre-installed with many phones”. Yet another stated, “Whatsapp is like a part of my phone, I download it on every new phone I get.”.

A Whatsapp group call in action

How to create a Whatsapp Group calls

Users can make group calls with a total of four people.

Here is how to create a group call once the update reaches your phone:

  • Begin a one-on-one voice or video call
  • Tap the new “add participant” button in the top right corner

As usually, every communication on Whatsapp is encrypted end-to-end. Be sure to look out for the new updates on your smartphones.

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