WhatsApp started life as a text-first messaging platform, only adding voice and video calling much later in its development. Recently, WhatsApp has gone the Telegram route with features like Communities enabling large group interactions via text. Now, the platform is looking to add voice chat support to the mix. The feature was spotted in development once earlier, but now details about how it works are becoming clearer, meaning it is very close to an official release.
WhatsApp allows starting group calls with 15 people at once, but ringing participants isn’t convenient. With the new voice chats feature, WhatsApp has tried to copy Twitter Spaces and Discord voice chat rooms, where people can join or leave ongoing conversations as they please. According to WABetaInfo, voice chats are reaching more beta testers with version 220.127.116.11 available on the Play Store, giving us a closer look at the feature’s implementation.
Right off the bat, WABetaInfo says WhatsApp voice chats are available to groups with 32 participants or more, but you can have only 32 people on a voice chat concurrently. This is a sad limitation, considering the platform also limits group voice calls to 32 participants. However, we believe this could change soon. People running the latest beta can start voice chats, and any member of eligible groups can join them.
When a voice chat is underway, the group icon changes in your chat list, and you should see a banner with a waveform icon and a prominent Connect button, so you can participate in the real-time discussion. When voice chats go live and WhatsApp isn’t in active use, you’ll receive a silent push notification as opposed to a full-on incoming call ringtone seen for group calls.
WABetaInfo says that once underway, the voice chats are end-to-end encrypted like all other methods of interaction WhatsApp facilitates. The screenshots also reveal you can exit a voice chat whenever you feel like. If a voice chat remains empty for 60 minutes, WhatsApp will close it. However, group members can always start another one if the need arises.
Voice chats have multiple advantages as opposed to conventional group calls, because you won’t have to add participants manually, and unlike calls, you could use it as a live stream of sorts too. It is also fantastic for impromptu calls and discussions about certain topics. The beta is rolling out widely and some stable channel users may get to test it out as well.