WhatsApp groups and group calls: here’s a breakdown

Groups have become a staple of the mobile chat platform WhatsApp’s offering, and regardless of whether you hate the functionality or love it, it has proven to be one of the platform’s most popular features.

WhatsApp recently launched new features relating to group chats, and has also announced the introduction of group video calls, which will be implemented in the next few months.

Here is a breakdown of WhatsApp’s new group chat features, as well as some information about how group video calls will work.

New WhatsApp groups features

WhatsApp groups introduced a number of new features in May of this year. These include:

  • Group catch up: If you’ve missed some messages in a group chat, you can search for the messages specifically addressed to you by tapping on a new @ button.
  • Participant search: If you’re looking for a specific participant in a group chat, WhatsApp has made it easier by adding a search function that can be accessed on the info page of the group.
  • Admin permissions: Current group administrators will now be able to remove admin permissions of other group participants. Furthermore, group creators can no longer be removed from groups that they started.
  • Group description: WhatsApp has added a feature that allows people to add a short blurb which explains the group’s topic or purpose, and where guidelines for the group can be put forward.
  • Admin control: Group administrators can now restrict who can change a group’s icon, description and subject.

You won’t necessarily notice all the changes to the groups immediately, as they have been seamlessly incorporated into the interface, but if you are the admin of a group, you’ll be grateful for the additional features.

Group calling and video calling

Another new feature that has rolled out is group calling and video calling.

WhatsApp calling is a popular feature on the platform, but and until recently, calling was restricted to only allow two participants: the caller and the person that is being called. This is set to change with the new release, which is included in the latest update of the app for Android and iOS, with a version for Windows phone users is also in the pipeline. This is how it works:

To make a group call or video call, initiate it with one other participant as you usually would with a WhatsApp call. You will notice the option to “Add a participant” with an icon in the top right corner of the screen. Tap on this icon. This will open your contact list and give you the option to add participants from there.

The third participant will get a notification, which informs them that they are receiving a call. Participants can only be added one at a time, so another participant can only be added to the call once the previous participant has accepted.

At this stage, a maximum of four people will be able to participate in a group call or video call. People can only be added to the call by the person who initially started the call.

The addition of new features on the messaging platform comes after announcements made at Facebook’s F8 2018 Conference, held in May of this year. WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014, and is currently the most popular messaging app in the world.

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