WhatsApp is gradually rolling out a new group voice chat feature for it’s mobile clients, that lets participants in a group talk in a new way unlike the current voice call system.
This is more like a Telegram group voice chat that runs in the background and allows only a limited number of people initially. Starting a voice chat won’t ring the other participants in the group, but sends a notification to let them join if interested.
WhatsApp Voice Chats for Groups
WhatsApp is exploring all the communication options available for it’s users, with voice chats being the latest experiment. The platform has been testing it for a couple of months and has now begin rolling it out to beta testers on iOS and Android.
As noted by The Verge, voice chats are being added to some groups with less than 32 participants to let them talk in a new way. Appearing as a wave icon beside the group name, voice chats, if activated, will not ring the other participants. Instead, they send a push notification to let the interested ones join.
This is a less disturbing way than the current voice calls, which ring similar to regular calls. Once a voice chat is underway, call controls will be accessible from the top of a chat. These voice chats are end-to-end encrypted and can be joined only by 32 people simultaneously.
I’m running on WhatsApp beta for Android v188.8.131.52 and have had this feature for the last few weeks. While it seemed helpful, initiating a voice chat marks a call activity with each participant in the respective chat histories, which is intriguing. The same has also been recorded as a voice call in the Calls tab. It’d be better if WhatsApp differentiates them both.
Well, as it’s set to be available for everyone in the coming weeks, we hope WhatsApp improves the feature to be less awkward. Though it’s testing with 32 participants as of now, the rollout will come to more extensive group chats of participants upto 128, per WhatsApp’s support page about the feature. This means that not everyone in a given group can join a voice chat at once.
While WhatsApp states no specific reason for this limit, presumably, the platform wanted groups with 32 people or lower to use the existing group voice calls feature.
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