As promised at Facebook’s F8 conference last month, Instagram’s received an update with a group video calling feature.
It lets you chat with up to three more pals at the same time; you can minimize the video screens to a thumbnail if you’d like to continue browsing your messages and feed. In my brief test, I found it to work just fine – albeit with a few seconds’ delay in initially connecting and starting up video streams.
You can only call people you’re connected to, i.e. you follow them and they follow you back. That keeps things a bit more private than what I’d feared when I wrote about a rumor about this feature back in March.
Oh, and you can mute video chats if you’re not interested, by toggling the option in the Details screen for any conversation you’re a part of.
To try video calls for yourself, you’ll need to head to your inbox in the app, open up a conversation, and then click on the camera button at the top right of the screen. You can also join ongoing calls, which you can identify in your conversation by the blue camera icon.
What trips me up is the limit to four people at a time – if your group is larger than that, it still rings everyone, and I understand that it’ll simply allow in only the first four respondents. Surely there’s a better way to handle this.