WhatsApp video calls receive an upgrade with screen sharing, 32-participant limit and more

World’s most popular IM app, the Meta-owned WhatsApp, is rolling out significant enhancements to its video calling features. These updates are designed to make WhatsApp a more formidable competitor against established video calling platforms such as Zoom, FaceTime, and Google Meet. The updates are set to roll out “over the next few weeks.”

One of the most significant additions to WhatsApp’s video calling capabilities is the screen sharing feature. This functionality allows users to share their screens during a call, which can be particularly useful for a variety of purposes. Whether it’s watching videos together, sharing documents and presentations, or providing technical support to friends and family, screen sharing brings a new level of interactivity to WhatsApp calls. The feature also includes audio sharing, enabling participants to discuss the shared content in real time. This is expected to be a boon for users who need to collaborate remotely.

Additionally, in response to the growing demand for more inclusive virtual meetings, WhatsApp has increased the maximum number of participants in a video call to 32. This is a significant leap from the previous limit of eight participants, which was set during the initial COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020. This update applies across all platforms, including mobile devices, Windows, and macOS. By expanding the participant limit, WhatsApp aims to cater to larger groups, making it suitable for business meetings, virtual family gatherings, and other large-scale interactions. This move brings WhatsApp closer in line with competitors that already offer higher participant limits.

Another key feature in this update is the speaker spotlight, which enhances the user experience during group calls. This feature automatically highlights the participant who is currently speaking, placing them at the forefront of the participant list. This functionality, which is standard on many other video conferencing platforms, is intended to make it easier for users to follow conversations in large group settings. While Zoom and Google Meet allow up to 100 participants on their basic plans, WhatsApp’s new limit of 32 participants is a significant step forward. By integrating features like screen sharing with audio and speaker spotlight, WhatsApp is addressing some of the critical functionalities that users have come to expect from a comprehensive video calling service.

In addition to these new features, WhatsApp is also upgrading the quality of its audio and video calls. The app is introducing the Meta Low Bitrate (MLow) codec, which promises to deliver better noise and echo cancellation, enhancing call clarity even in noisy environments. This codec is designed to improve the overall reliability of calls, particularly for users with poor network connectivity or older devices. Additionally, video calls will now stream in higher resolution if the user’s network supports it, ensuring a better visual experience.