WhatsApp, the messaging service owned by Meta, has announced the rollout of a new voice chat feature designed for large groups. This update, described as reminiscent of Discord’s voice chat functionality, is aimed at improving group communication dynamics within the app.
The newly introduced feature allows users to initiate voice chats in a less intrusive manner compared to traditional group calls. Unlike group calls that ring every member, the voice chats will start silently, signaled by an in-chat bubble that users can tap to join. This approach is designed to be less disruptive, especially for large groups.
Users can participate in these voice chats while continuing to message those who are unable to join. The call controls, conveniently located at the top of the chat, allow users to quickly unmute, hang up, or message the group without having to leave the voice chat. This dual functionality ensures a seamless experience for users who wish to engage in both spoken and written conversations simultaneously.
The feature is being rolled out globally to groups with 33 members or more over the coming weeks. WhatsApp emphasizes that voice chats are protected with end-to-end encryption by default, ensuring the privacy and security of these communications.
Voice chats on WhatsApp function similarly to those on platforms like Discord, Telegram, and Slack, facilitating large group conversations through spoken chat. This marks WhatsApp’s move towards catering to larger groups, a feature already prevalent in other group-focused platforms.
The launch of this voice chat feature follows several other updates to WhatsApp. These include the introduction of multi-account support, allowing users to use two accounts simultaneously, passkey support on Android, and a new “Flows” functionality aimed at enhancing the shopping experience within the app. Additionally, WhatsApp for Mac has recently been made available on the Apple Store, following its launch on WhatsApp’s official website in August.
This update comes after Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg highlighted the increasing interactions between users and businesses across Meta’s platforms, with family of apps and other revenue significantly up year-over-year. The WhatsApp Business platform has been a key driver of this growth.
In line with the broader trend of AI integration, WhatsApp announced new AI features at its annual Connect conference. These features include AI-generated stickers, AI-assisted chats for information queries, and photorealistic image generation capabilities.