(Pocket-lint) - Twitter has updated its mobile apps and website, adding two anticipated and very useful features: group messages and 30-second videos.

Twitter revealed a few months ago that it was planning to add video-sharing options as well as a new way for you to privately communicate with a group of people instead of just being able to privately message with one individual. Those features are now rolling out to all users.

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How does group messaging work?

Twitter has long offered the ability to directly message. It's like a private conversation on Twitter, allowing you to read tweets and then talk about them with a friend in a non-public manner. Starting on 27 January however, you'll be able to privately converse with a group of friends.

"You might want to continue a public conversation privately with a smaller group, or start one based on a Tweet you saw," announced Twitter via a blog post. "Whatever the case may be, the ability to converse privately with groups gives you more options."

Group messages are only visible between the people included. You can add up to 20 people at a time, and none of the people in that group chat have to follow each other on Twitter. You can there create a group chat among strangers, if so desired, and in just a few taps.

Group messages isn't considered a standalone feature, but rather an extension of (or an upgrade to) Direct Messages, which now supports text, photos, links, emoji, and Tweets. Whenever you're added to a group chat, you'll get a notification like usual.

Want to know more about group messages?

Twitter published the video below to briefly showcase group messaging. It also offers this resource page with more information about direct messages in general, or you could even check out the social network's blog post regarding its latest features.

How does video work?

When using Twitter, your tweets aren't limited to 140 characters. You can add images, GIFs, Vines, and audio files, for instance. And starting on 27 January, you'll be able to capture, edit, and share videos. But you have to use Twitter's mobile apps.

"In just a few taps you can add a video to unfolding conversations, share your perspective of a live event, and show your everyday moments instantly, without ever having to leave the app," explained Twitter via a blog post.

Twitter has described its new video-editing experience as "inline" and said you'll be able to capture and share videos up to 30 seconds in an instant. People can preview your 30-second videos by tapping the video thumbnail that'll appear in your tweet.

iPhone users also have the unique ability to upload videos from their camera roll, while Android users need to wait for such functionality.

Want to know more about video?

Twitter published the video below to briefly showcase its new 30-second video feature. It also offers this resource page with more information about capturing videos in general, or you could even check out the social network's blog post regarding its latest features.

Why did Twitter add these new features?

Twitter has to demonstrate its ability to expand both user numbers and their activity. It also always has to keep advertisers and investors in mind. Investors are fearful that Twitter can't boost its user growth, especially when they compare it to Facebook-owned Instagram.

Instagram has 300 million people using the site each month, up from 200 million just nine months ago, while Twitter recently claimed to have 284 million users log into the site each month. That's a 23 per cent jump from the third quarter a year ago, but it's still not as good as Instagram.

By allowing people capture, edit, and share their own videos from within the Twitter mobile app, Twitter can both attract advertisers and users. Vine - Twitter's standalone app - similarly lets people post six-second videos. It's only two years old but has gained millions of users.

As for group chats Facebook (as well as WhatsApp, a standalone messaging app that Facebook acquired) has a similar feature. By offering private group messaging for up to 20 people at a time, Twitter can better compete with both Facebook and WhatsApp while also catering to users wants.

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Writing by Elyse Betters.