Up to 50 people can now be on video call

New Delhi: With more than one billion active users currently signed in, WhatsApp doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon. Instead, they’re adding more features to be more competitive with the rising trend of social distancing, work-from-home phenomenon, and remote meetings and conferences.

For a business to thrive, it has to match demands. This was the goal of Facebook when it launched a new video chatting product in April 2020 in the midst of the global lockdown. One of the reasons this product was introduced was to enable friends and family, business associates or teachers and students far apart to communicate with each other. This new feature can potentially accommodate up to a staggering 50 people at a time. It soon became a major rival to popular video calling app, Zoom.

And now, social media powerhouse, WhatsApp has jumped to action, although late to the fight. They have shown they are equally competing with video call apps that have gained much popularity during this lockdown. How? They have incorporated Facebook messenger as a feature on the platform.

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With apps like Houseparty, Skype and Zoom recording increase in usage, during the lockdown, WhatsApp needed to do more than its video calls. Although its number of users per time doubled from 4 to 8. That simply isn’t enough. Now, with this new addition, WhatsApp looks to be giving Zoom a run for their money as their web app connects you to Facebook messenger rooms for video calls that can accommodate up to 50 people.

This new feature for efficient video calling at the moment is running its beta version on the WhatsApp desktop app and, although we aren’t sure when it will make its way to the mobile app, we’re pretty confident it will be sooner rather than later. This feature transfers people to Facebook messenger rooms which is a service offered by Facebook and used to facilitate video calls with much larger groups.

On WhatsApp desktop version, a shortcut directs people to Facebook messenger rooms, where they can start a video call and invite other people to join in. This video call product also includes certain key features that seem to win users over. An example is the ability to change your virtual background. While we await its addition to iPhones, in Android and other mobile devices, it is important to be equipped with all the details you need.

To set-up and distribute a room link, you have to open WhatsApp web and click on the icon above your list of chats. Select ‘create a room’ on the options menu that pops up, and you are good to go. This process can also be used to create a room for group calls as well as individual calls. Luckily, the idea of time limits on video calls does not apply here as you can chat on Messenger rooms for as long as you want.

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It is important to note that the messenger rooms are outside WhatsApp and so, creating a room will exit WhatsApp and lead you to your browser’s messenger website. As a result of the messenger rooms redirecting you out of WhatsApp, the terms and conditions no longer apply. The messenger rooms utilise Facebook’s terms and conditions. You can also utilise your Facebook account to log in if you are not yet logged into the messenger.

To ensure a sense of security to your video calls, you can lock the rooms to ensure people are not able to join even with the link. Or you may decide to leave the room unlocked to allow anyone with the link gain access.

For video calls to begin, the owner of the link has to be present. Without the person who created the link, calling won’t be possible. The authority of the room creator, which is you in this case, also extends to removal of any participant from the room, whenever they want. You also have the privilege of ending the call whenever you please.

It will take some time before this product can overtake Zoom and become a first choice to many users in the face of the pandemic that has caused global lockdowns. Zoom has gained popularity among individual and businesses as a preferred app for video conferencing. But with the right upgrades and introduction of more user-friendly features, this Facebook-enabled WhatsApp 50-person messenger room can take over.

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