WhatsApp group voice chats being tested (not quite group calls… )

WhatsApp group voice chats are now being tested, after an earlier vague report of something then referred to as audio chats …

WAbetainfo had previously spotted a reference to something known as audio chats, but didn’t have any hard info on what the feature might be, or how it would work.

However, the same site has now spotted group Voice Chats in testing, and is now able to shed some light on the upcoming new feature.

In our article about the WhatsApp beta for Android update, we shared information regarding a feature in development: audio chats. With this feature, WhatsApp had plans to offer group participants a new way to initiate voice calls. In the same article, we explained that the feature may appear unclear as there was no detailed information about how it works.

However, thanks to the latest WhatsApp beta for Android update from the Google Play Store, WhatsApp is rolling out audio chats, now called voice chats, to some beta testers, and we discovered important details about how this feature works!

While group voice chats are very similar to group voice calls – which are already available – there is one important difference. Voice calls will cause each person’s phone to ring, with all the urgency of a call that must be taken immediately. Voice chats, in contrast, will simply notify you that a chat is available.

In other respects, they do seem to be essentially the same thing:

A new voice waveform icon may be visible within a group chat in case the feature is enabled for the account and compatible with the group. Tapping on this icon will automatically start the voice chat, and a dedicated interface will appear. Anyone in the group chat can join the voice chat at any time and start speaking. If the voice chat remains empty, it will automatically end after 60 minutes if no one joins. However, anyone can still start another voice chat at any time.

It’s important to note that voice chats are only accessible to certain groups. Generally, they might be available in groups with more than 32 participants (though only up to 32 participants might be able to join a voice chat). However, it’s worth noting that this configuration may vary depending on the user.

The primary advantage of voice chats is that they allow for initiating a call without ringing the phone of each participant in the group. Nevertheless, every group participant will still get a silent push notification when a new voice chat is created in their groups, and the group icon will display a small thumbnail representing a voice chat within the chat list.

As ever, WhatsApp tests new features in the Android app first, with a later rollout to iOS. This contrasts with many other apps, which bring new features to the iPhone ahead of Android smartphones.

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