WhatsApp launches its first native macOS app with group calling support

After what feels like forever, Meta-owned instant messaging platform WhatsApp has finally launched a native macOS app. The new version gives Mac users similar functionality that Windows PC users have enjoyed since March.

The new Mac app is already available for download for free via WhatsApp's servers, but those who prefer to use the Mac App Store might have to wait a little while — WhatsApp says that it's coming soon.

No matter where you download the upgraded WhatsApp app, you'll benefit from new features, including some that have been brought about by the move to a native macOS app. For the first time, familiar Mac features such as drag and drop are available to WhatsApp users. Files can easily be dragged and then dropped into a chat for convenience, while those with longer chat histories will now see more of them, we're told.

More Mac in your app

WhatsApp announced its new app via a blog post, noting that there are improved calling features for those who want to take advantage of them.

“With the new WhatsApp app for Mac, you can now make group calls from your Mac for the first time, connecting with up to 8 people on video calls and up to 32 people on audio calls,” the blog post explains. “Now you can join a group call after it’s started, see your call history and choose to receive incoming call notifications even when the app is closed.”

Alongside the new drag-and-drop support, WhatsApp users can also expect all of the usual features that they're used to. That means that their chats will continue to be end-to-end encrypted, and cross-platform support will continue to make WhatsApp one of the best instant messaging platforms around. In a world where Apple continues to refuse to support RCS on its devices, third-party apps remain a requirement for communicating with people across the Android-iPhone divide.

The new native WhatsApp Mac app can be downloaded from the company's website right now. You'll need macOS 11 Big Sur or later, and you'll need a Mac running on Apple silicon — so that's M1 or later, folks. Don't have a Mac that meets those requirements? WhatsApp web is still available.


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Firefox 96 is a boost for anyone doing video calling

Mozilla has released Firefox 96, an update to one of the most popular web browsers out there.

According to Mozilla's desktop release notes, Firefox 96 is a big win for anyone who uses the browser to make video calls, with improved noise-suppression and auto-gain-control, plus echo-cancellation, to make sure you sound as crisp and clear as possible. 

By building the video improvements right into the browser, Firefox users without the best webcams or best USB microphones should see automatic improvements as we move into year three of working from home.

Firefox for Android boost

Elsewhere, there are a bunch of technical changes, including reducing the main-thread load, which should make Firefox run that much smoother on most machines. Also includes are the usual bug fixes, such as changing how macOS users can command-click on Gmail links. 

But it isn't just desktop that gets some Mozilla love, as the Android version of Firefox 96 is set to get some cool improvements, too. As Mozilla says in the Android release notes, users can now see highlights of recently-visited websites and bookmark images have been improved. There are also the usual range of bug fixes. 

While these are fairly small changes, they make a Firefox for Android that much better and help it compete with Chrome, Brave, Opera, and other Android browser alternatives. 

The news comes shortly after Mozilla was involved in a controversy over accepting crypto donations. The company was forced to step back from its position on accepting donations via cryptocurrency following a massive backlash which included Mozilla co-founder Jamie Zawinski slamming the company.

In response, Mozilla promised it will “take action”, particularly concerning its climate goals.

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