You can now have group video chats in three of Facebook's products.
Have you been searching in vain for an app that will let you video chat in real time with your friends? If so, with the greatest respect, you probably panic at the sight of a search box. The mobile app stores are inundated with chatting solutions – indeed, most Android phones come with Google Duo preinstalled, and that is its sole purpose in life (other than stubbornly resisting attempts to delete it).
Still, nobody told Facebook – which is confusing given it owns both Messenger and WhatsApp which also have video chat – and now Instagram has the feature too. If, like me, you only use Instagram for moody pictures of moody cats, then this might strike you as unnecessary feature creep, like adding an FM radio to a toaster, but apparently someone somewhere has requested it.
“People use live video to just hang out,” Mark Zuckerberg said when he announced the feature onstage at F8 back in May. “It's amazing how many of these tools are about bringing us together.”
Calling requires both parties to follow each other, and you can mute video chats you're not interested in. Unlike Facebook Messenger, which has support for an impractical-sounding 50 people at a time, Instagram group video chat is limited to just four people at a time. Indeed, currently if you invite more than four it'll just let people in on a first come, first serve basis, which feels a little half-baked.
Should you want to try the feature yourself, it's available now on both iOS and Android. Just go into the inbox section of the app, open a conversation and tap the camera button on the top right of the screen.
Or, y'know, just open WhatsApp, Skype, Imo, JusTalk, Viber, Tango, Hangouts, Duo, Facetime or Messenger.