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(Pocket-lint) - Facebook-owned messenger app Whatsapp, allows up to eight people to participate in a group video call.

This feature tells you everything you need to know about making group WhatsApp video calls, which are available on both iOS and Android, as well as the WhatsApp desktop.

What is WhatsApp group calling?

WhatsApp has long supported voice and video calls and introduced group video chats in 2018. As we mentioned, you can make a group call with up to eight people simultaneously. Competitors like Google Duo offer up to 32.

Formerly, you needed to start a one-on-one voice or video call like normal on WhatsApp and then add multiple other participants to make it a group call. However, it's much easier nowadays.

How to make a WhatsApp group video call

It's worth noting that during any video call, you always have the option to turn off your video to revert to a voice call and/or mute your microphone. 

You need an existing WhatsApp group

To call a group, they need to be an existing WhatsApp group. To make a group, go to the Chats tab and tap 'New Group' at the top your chats. The group participants need to be in your contacts.

You can also tap the New Chat icon and then select New Group. 

Call the group

After you've created your group, or opened the group of people you want to video call, you'll need to tap the video icon in the top right corner. This will appear if you there are eight people or less in the group. Once you tap that, the group video call will begin.

If the group has more than eight people in it, you'll need to creat a room where you select up to seven other participants for the video call. In the group, tap on the call icon with the "+" in the top right corner and select your participants. If people in the group aren't in your contacts, they won't appear in this list. 

Once you have selected your participants, tap the blue video icon - you can also tap the phone icon if you just want voice. 

When participants receive a group video call, the incoming call screen shows the participants currently on the call. 

Add group participants to an existing call

If you want to start by placing a one-on-one call, this bit is for you. Just open the chat with the contact you want to voice call, then tap Voice call (phone icon) or Video call (camera icon).

After placing a one-on-one voice or video call, you will see an add participant button in the top right corner in the form of a person icon in a circle with a "+". Tap it to add more contacts to the call.

Group video calling on WhatsApp desktop

We have a separate feature that tells you how to make a group video call on WhatsApp desktop. The feature currently isn't available for WhatsApp web. You can find all the information on making a group video call on WhatsApp desktop by clicking here.

As a summary, you'll need the below for it to work though: 

  • The latest version of the WhatsApp desktop app (available for Windows PC and Mac)
  • An audio and microphone output device
  • A camera for video calls
  • An active internet connection on your phone and computer. You phone needs to be online to establish the call, but the call won't go through your phone.
  • Grant permission to WhatsApp desktop to access your computer's microphone and camera.

How to join a WhatsApp group video call

In July 2021, WhatsApp finally introduced the ability to join a group call, even after it’s started. "Joinable calls reduce the burden of answering a group call as it starts, and brings the spontaneity and ease of in-person conversations to group calling on WhatsApp," the company explained in a blog post.

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Now, if you miss a group call when the phone rings, you can still join whenever you want. You can also drop-off and re-join so long as the call is still ongoing. WhatsApp has also created a call info screen so you can see who is already on the call, and who has been invited but not yet joined. If you simply don't feel like joining a group call, you can always hit "Ignore". But you can still join later, if you change your mind, from the calls tab in WhatsApp. 

Join an incoming group video call

  1. You’ll receive a notification when someone invites you to join a group video call.
    • If you can’t join, tap Ignore.
    • To open the call info screen, tap Join.
    • From the call menu, you can preview the call participants and other invitees.
  2. Tap Join to join the call.
  3. While on the call, tap Open to open the call info screen.
  4. Tap Add participant to add more contacts to the call.
  5. Tap Ring to send a notification to people who’ve already been invited.

Join a missed group video call

  1. Open WhatsApp, then tap the Calls tab.
  2. If the call is ongoing, tap the call you’d like to join.
    • This will open the call info screen.
  3. From the call menu, tap Join.

For further details and step-by-step instructions, check out WhatsApp's FAQ page.

Is WhatsApp group calling secure?

Group calls are "always end-to-end encrypted," according to WhatsApp. They're also designed to "work reliably" in various network conditions, although we'd ensure you have a strong data signal when you're making group video calls.

Writing by Maggie Tillman and Dan Grabham. Originally published on 1 August 2018.