A new feature within the latest WhatsApp update could see the hugely popular messaging app rival video conferencing giants like Skype and Zoom.
Version 2.2043.7 of the Facebook-owned app will introduce voice and video calls to the desktop version, according to WhatsApp news website WaBetaInfo.
WhatsApp’s mobile app for Android and iOS already supports video calls, however the number of participants is currently limited to eight.
This was increased from just four participants earlier this year in response to a huge surge in demand for mobile video calling features brought about by lockdown measures.
An increase in remote working throughout the world has also seen new users flock to Zoom and other video call apps on desktop.
Until now, Facebook has limited its video and voice call capabilities for desktop to its Messenger app, though this has seen relatively little pickup by businesses.
With more than 2 billion monthly active users, WhatsApp’s position as the most popular messaging app in the world means any new features that rival other services could provide significant competition in the space.
Screenshots of the Group Voice and Video calls features reveal how it might function within WhatsApp’s desktop app. They show a separate window pop up when a call arrives, which minimises into a smaller status window if a voice call is accepted, or maximise into a larger window if a video call is accepted.
The latest desktop feature is currently under development, so it is unclear when WhatsApp will roll it out to users.
WaBetaInfo noted that the progress of early beta tests could see it introduced “in the next few weeks”.
It is also unclear how many participants the new feature will support. Zoom allows up to 100 participants by default in each virtual meeting, and offers up to 1,000 people through its Large Meeting add-on.
Skype recently doubled the amount of people that can simultaneously be on a group video call to 50.
WhatsApp does not comment on unreleased updates or other features rumoured to be in development.