WhatsApp recently increased its upper limit for group video calls from four to eight, but for bigger group calls it will soon redirect you to Facebook Messenger.
In late April, Facebook announced Messenger Rooms, a video calling tool that can host up to 50 participants and, crucially, imposes no time limits on calls. Zoom, Houseparty − it’s coming for you.
Related: How to video call on WhatsApp
“You can start and share rooms on Facebook through News Feed, Groups and Events, so it’s easy for people to drop by. Soon we’ll add ways to create rooms from Instagram Direct, WhatsApp and Portal, too,” Facebook said.
Over the long weekend, WABetaInfo discovered that a shortcut to Messenger Rooms is in development for WhatsApp Web, which lets you use WhatsApp on your computer but does not currently support video calls.
Clicking the Messenger Rooms shortcut (a white camcorder icon inside a blue button) makes a popup message appear.
“Introducing Messenger Rooms,” it reads. “Create a room in Messenger and send a link to group video chat with anyone, even if they don’t have WhatsApp or Messenger. Rooms are protected by Messenger’s encryption and privacy controls, but not end-to-end encrypted.”
Two options sit beneath this message: ‘Cancel’ and ‘Continue in Messenger’.
WABetaInfo has also spotted the shortcut in the Android and iOS versions of WhatsApp, but to reiterate, the functionality is in development, and not yet available for the wider public to try out.
Both Facebook and Google are now aggressively going after Zoom and Houseparty. Google recently made Google Meet free to use. The service lets you add up to 100 people to a video call, and the time limit is currently set at 24 hours.
Last week it emerged that use of Zoom dropped significantly at the end of March, after a series of security- and privacy-related blunders.
Related: How to use Messenger Rooms
Messenger Rooms was announced on April 24, but don’t worry if you can’t see the option to try it yet. “Messenger Rooms is rolling out in some countries this week and will expand to the rest of the world in coming weeks,” Facebook said at the time.