WhatsApp update offers early look at new video call feature coming to your chats

Those clever folks at WABetaInfo – a Twitter account that trawls through the code in the latest WhatsApp beta releases to unearth evidence of new features or design tweaks coming soon – have uncovered the first look at an upcoming Facebook feature set to invade the chat app.

Last month, Facebook unveiled its new Messenger Rooms. The Facebook-designed video call app is designed to rival the likes of Google Meet (which is now free for anyone to use despite previously only being reserved for businesses and schools), Zoom and Houseparty.

Messenger Rooms is able to host up to 50 people simultaneously – much more than the recently-expanded eight people who can take part in the same video call on WhatsApp – and lets people join from a wide variety of Facebook-owned properties. So, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp users will be able to jump on the same call without the need to download or sign-up to the exact same app.

This should remove one of the frustrations of rival video apps. Relatives who do not have a Houseparty account will need to set-up an account to join the call, for example. Chances are, every member of your family with have either a Facebook, Messenger, Instagram or WhatsApp account – meaning they’ll be able to join simply by tapping on a link. No need to go through the rigmarole of downloading the app and dreaming up a new username-password combination.

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WABetaInfo has uncovered how Messenger Rooms will be implemented inside WhatsApp.

If the screenshots shared by WABetaInfo are correct (and provided WhatsApp doesn’t make any changes before the feature rolls out worldwide), it looks like Messenger Rooms will be accessible from within any groups – or from the main menu, where users would habitually be able to create a new group.

Since the feature is not currently live in the beta version of the app, it’s unclear whether creating a Messenger Room inside an existing group chat in WhatsApp will automatically add everyone in the group into the video call. Or whether you’ll need to send the invite link to friends separately.

Unfortunately, there’s no precise release date for Messenger Rooms, with Facebook only confirming that it will be coming to countries around the world in the “coming weeks”.

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