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WhatsApp video calls are about to get much better – for everyone

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

WhatsApp seems to have some big plans for video calling, which should make it a viable alternative to Zoom and Skype for large conference calls.

Currently, no more than four people can participate in a WhatsApp video call at once, but it looks like that might be about to change. WABetaInfo, which specializes in trawling through WhatsApp beta releases, has discovered code hidden in the latest beta that suggests that limit is about to be raised very soon.

The snippet of code was first discovered in the beta for iOS, suggesting it might be another change that would only affect iPhone users, but was soon spotted in the Android version as well.

A real rival to Zoom's crown?

The only visible change in the latest WhatsApp beta is a new header that appears during calls, telling you that the connection is end-to-end encrypted (one of WhatsApp's biggest selling points). There are much more interesting developments under the hood though, in the form of hidden code strings.

The most interesting string specifies that "all participants need the latest version of WhatsApp for calls with %D people". There's no hint as to what number %D represents yet, but it must be higher than the current limit of four if it's only accessible to users running the newest version of the app.

One of the biggest appeals of Zoom is the ability to host up to 100 callers (or 500 if you purchase a premium subscription). If WhatsApp is able to raise its limit substantially, it might become a serious alternative for video calls with lots of participants – which would be particularly helpful now so many people worldwide are relying on video conferencing for their daily work.

The new change isn't available to try yet, but we'll keep you updated once it's accessible for beta users – and when it's rolled out in the release version. 

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Cat Ellis

Cat is the fitness and wellbeing editor at TechRadar. She's been a technology journalist for 11 years, and cut her teeth on magazines including PC Plus and PC Format before joining TechRadar. She's a trained run leader, and enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the pavement. If you have a story about fitness trackers, treadmills, running shoes, e-bikes, or any other fitness tech, drop her a line.