In any friend or family group, there's always that one person everyone forgets to invite to events. A birthday party without cousin Jamie, a friendly catch-up call without Billie the wallflower, or a department-wide happy hour video chat without LarryJerryTerry Garry, all of these could be a thing of the past if you use Google Duo. The service now lets you add forgotten people to a group call after starting it.
The last few months have seen a skyrocketing use of video calling, be it for work or personal communication. Some services, like Zoom or Google Meet, made joining calls easier for groups of people by simply sharing a link, and now Duo is catching up to them.
WhatsApp has supported group audio and video calls since 2018, but you have always been limited to calling three other people at one time. During times of stay-at-home orders and quarantines, that might not be enough to stay connected with all of your friends and family. An update to the WhatsApp beta channel improves that situation as it raises the limit to up to eight participants (including yourself) for the first few users, but it involves a server-side change, too.
About a month ago, Google Duo began rolling out its much-awaited group calls. They started out in Indonesia, then quickly spread to India, Brazil, Mexico, the US, Canada, and many more countries. Although it's not official yet, it seems to be rolled out worldwide, but could possibly be behind a server-side flag so some users may have it while others not. However, until recently, group calls were limited to four people max, so you could only add three other participants beside yourself. Now, that's expanding to eight.
Group calls on WhatsApp aren't new. The feature began showing up last May and rolled out to everyone in July, but many users still don't know it exists. The reason is that you couldn't actually call a group, you had to start by calling to one person then add other participants. It wasn't until a few weeks ago that WhatsApp beta added the option to call a group, and now this is available in the stable version of the app.
After leaks and teardown revelations aplenty, WhatsApp group calls were finally formally revealed at Facebook's F8 developer conference in early May. By the end of the month, the feature had started showing up for some. Now, WhatsApp has announced that group audio and video calls are rolling out to all users.
At the start of the month, Mark Zuckerberg announced at the Facebook F8 conference that group calls were coming to WhatsApp. The feature has been discovered in countless leaks and teardowns before, so the news was not a surprise to anyone. Over the past few days, reports have started springing up of group calls showing on iOS, and now it looks like the feature has also made its way to Android. But beware, this a server-side update so not everyone has it.
Facebook's been making some big improvements to Messenger recently, and the latest is no different: group calling is coming, with the global rollout having started yesterday on both iOS and Android. As is now usual with Messenger, the web app (on both facebook.com and messenger.com) will probably get the update at some point in the future.
Group calling works as you'd expect: tap on a group chat and, if the feature has rolled out to you yet, there will be a phone icon in the app bar. Tap this and it will bring up a dialogue asking who you'd like to include in the group call.