Messaging app Line is the latest to launch a group video chat feature, and when it says group, it really means it. The app supports conversations with up to 200 of your nearest and dearest friends. You won’t see all 200 on screen at the same time though, obviously, and the view is restricted to four. It wouldn’t be a video feature without some kind of filter, and sure enough, clever face recognition technology will apply mood-based filters to the screen during a session. There are six individual effects, each reflecting a person’s mood, or four global effects that cover the entire screen.
The introduction of the group video call feature comes several months after Line activated its group voice call feature, which also supports 200 participants. Both features are free to use between Line friends, and operate over 3G, 4G LTE, and Wi-Fi connections. Initially available through version 6.9.1 of the Android and iOS apps, the feature will arrive on the desktop PC version of the app in the future.
Line isn’t the first to add a group video chat feature to a messaging platform this year. Primarily business-focused app Slack announced group video calls this week, and WhatsApp gave video calls to its billion users in November; but only between two people. Skype added group video at the beginning of the year, while WeChat, a significant Line competitor, has had group video calls since 2015, but restricts it to nine people.
Line made headlines in 2016 after claiming the title of biggest tech company debut this year on the New York Stock Exchange, when it went public in July. It’s now seeking new ways of encouraging people to use the app more. “We need to make sure Line continues to produce destructive innovation,” Line executive Jun Masuda told Bloomberg in an interview. Line has 220 million people using its app around the world.
Group video calls through Line can be used everywhere the app is available, with the feature coming online from December 14. This is excellent news for fans of the app, after the group chat feature had a staggered launch earlier this year.