This year has seen a lot of changes to the way we used to do normal everyday things. Many workplaces have gone online-only, schools have gone back and forth between remote learning, and even celebrating a birthday or the holidays have gone online. Through all of this video conferencing calls have been a key way for us to spend time together while apart.

To that end, the privacy-focused messenger Signal has just announced that it has added encrypted group video calls to its app. Like everything else with Signal the feature is 100% free and end-to-end encrypted ensuring everything you say and do is completely private.

In the blog post, it details that group calls are only supported with the new style Signal groups, the call button won’t be available in legacy groups. However, your legacy groups will be updating to the new style group chat within the coming weeks.

When you start an encrypted group video call on Signal it will split the screen into a grid giving you a view of all participants. If you’d rather put the focus on the person speaking, you can swipe up to switch the view and Signal will automatically switch showing a view of the person who is currently speaking.

The only real downside, at the moment, is that Signal only supports group calls with up to five people at a time, but the team is working on expanding that to more users.

Looks like you won’t be having any classes or big celebrations like weddings over Signal in the short term. However, if it’s just you and a few of your friends, Signal would be perfect for a completely private group chat. Given the privacy concerns which have arisen over Zoom, the 40 minute limit on group calls for free users, and the holidays swiftly approaching–this couldn’t have come at a better time.

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