Signal on Monday announced the launch of group calls which, like everything else on the platform, is end-to-end encrypted. The new feature, which builds on other group chat functionality introduced in October, is rolling out to to Signal on Android and iOS.
Starting a group call in Signal is easy. Now, when you open a group chat, you’ll see a video call button at the top. Once you start a call, the group will receive a notification saying that a call has started. That’s essentially how it works on every messaging app that supports group calls.
“Signal Group Calls are one of many features that we have designed with Signal Private Groups as a foundation, using our RingRTC library for handling frame encryption and the logic around setting up and joining calls,” the company wrote in a blog post.
According to Signal, group calls are only supported in the new style groups. However, legacy groups will be automatically updated to new groups in the coming weeks. Back when the new group features were released, Signal added mentions, admins, and group permissions.
The company said group calls are currently limited to five participants, but the company is hoping to expand that number soon. That’s quite limiting if you have a large group of friends or family you want to chat with, and is far fewer than what Google Meet and Zoom accommodates. These services also offer end-to-end encryption.
If you’re an existing Signal user, the addition of group calls makes the service that much better. It may not serve as a mainstream threat to Google Meet or Zoom, but the platform has many other features that make it a great app for communication — and everything is end-to-end encrypted, so there’s the added benefit of security.
Signal’s free group calling features are available on Android and iOS beginning today.