WhatsApp is rolling out voice chats, aimed at improving group communication on the Meta-owned messaging service. The feature is designed to be less disruptive by allowing users to initiate group calls silently, without interrupting everyone.
Announcing on X (previously Twitter) on 14 November, WhatsApp said, users will “soon have the option to talk it out live with whoever can join or keep texting with whoever can’t.” This Discord-like voice chat feature is available on the latest versions of WhatsApp for iOS and Androids and is being rolled out for larger groups.
Currently, group calls ring all participants’ devices, which can be intrusive, especially for those who are in different time zones. In contrast, the new voice chat feature will give people a choice to join the chat or not. When voice chat is initiated, everyone’s devices won’t ring, instead, they will get a push notification about it. They can choose to join the voice chat or message the group. Users can see who has joined the voice chat in a banner at the bottom of the screen, WhatsApp’s website explains.
Similar to WhatsApp messages, the voice chats are also end-to-end encrypted and are only available for groups of 33 to 128 people. This feature is only available on users’ primary devices. Voice chats will end automatically after everyone leaves the chat. They will also end if no one joins the first or last person in the chat for 60 minutes.
Earlier this month, in another announcement on X, the messaging service said WhatsApp for Mac is now available on the Apple Store. In August, WhatsApp launched a new app for Mac computers with features such as group video and audio calls. However, it was available only through WhatsApp’s official website, until now.
For Android users, WhatsApp introduced “multiple accounts” last month, enabling users to have two accounts logged in at the same time. This makes it easier for users to switch between work and personal accounts, WhatsApp's blog post explained.
WhatsApp has also joined the artificial intelligence (AI) bandwagon. At its annual Connect conference in September, new AI features were announced for WhatsApp. These include AI stickers, wherein users can create custom stickers, AI chats, which enable users to ask questions about various topics and photorealistic image generation by typing a prompt.