A new video call feature has been introduced by WhatsApp to keep people connected during the lockdown.

The instant chat app has increased its video call capacity, allowing up to eight individuals to video chat at one time.

Prior to the latest update, WhatsApp video calls could only hold a maximum of four users at any one time.

Dramatic increase in use of video calling apps

The move has come after global lockdowns have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people using video calling apps, such as Zoom, Houseparty and Apple's FaceTime.

While FaceTime allows up to 32 people per video call, and Zoom has space for 100 participants, WhatsApp’s updated capacity puts it in line with Houseparty, which also allows eight people to join.

Who can use the feature?

The video call function can be used by all WhatsApp users, whether they are using an iPhone or Android device.

However, Android users must have an operating system of 4.1 or higher.

Video calls cannot yet be made on the desktop version of the app, WhatsApp Web.

Is WhatsApp’s video chat secure?

Arvind Narayanan, an associate computer science professor at Princeton University, has warned that consumers should consider video chat options carefully.

While WhatsApp rival - Zoom - has seen a great increase in usage, as more people than ever are working from home during lockdown, its success has raised numerous privacy concerns.

A bug with the potential to let hackers take over a user’s Mac was found, and cyber attacks known as ‘Zoom bombings’, saw hackers enter chat rooms and threaten the users.

This has raised questions about the security of other video calling apps.

Facebook issues statement - 'Our video calls are secure'

However, to assure its users, Facebook has said in a statement: “As before, these calls are secured with end-to-end encryption.

“So no one else can view or listen to your private conversation, not even WhatsApp.”

What else have WhatsApp been doing in recent weeks?

Back in April, WhatsApp unveiled a new “Together at Home” emoji-style sticker pack within their app.

It includes text localized for nine different languages, including; Arabic, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.