If there’s something that divides people more than onions in a Spanish omelet, it’s WhatsApp voice messages. Both the voice messages and the app’s audio chats are an endless source of complaints from those who only want to read and write text messages. Yet, they’re also a lifesaver for people (like me) who find it more comfortable to speak than to write lengthy texts.
However, if you don’t particularly like these options, for whatever reason, WhatsApp might have a solution for you. As reported by TechCrunch, the company will launch a new audio chat feature in the coming weeks aiming to provide a less intrusive way of conducting voice calls in large groups. WABetaInfo showcased several screenshots from the beta phase of the feature back in August, but WhatsApp has now officially announced the news.
Although it has been possible for some time to make voice calls on WhatsApp with up to 32 participants, the new audio chat feature operates differently. Group participants’ devices won’t automatically ring when a voice chat starts; instead, they’ll receive a push notification and see a bubble in the chat that they can tap to join.
Once an audio chat has started, the call controls will be accessible from the top of the conversation without hindering participants from sending text messages simultaneously. Like other personal messages on WhatsApp, audio chats are end-to-end encrypted and can host up to 32 participants.
Audio chats will arrive on Android and iOS in the coming weeks. According to WhatsApp’s page about the feature, the rollout will begin with larger groups, from 33 to 128 people. It’s assumed that groups with fewer than 33 users haven’t been prioritized because they can use WhatsApp’s group voice call feature.