WhatsApp has begun rolling out a new voice chat feature that will offer an improved experience while making group calls on the messaging service. Currently, group calls ring members’ devices, which might not be ideal — especially when some participants are in different time zones. Instead, voice chats will be less intrusive and allow group members who are in a conversation to perform other tasks on the messaging app simultaneously, just like the group call features available on apps like Slack and Discord.
The rollout of voice chats on Android was announced by WhatsApp via X (formerly known as Twitter) on Monday. The feature is available to some users who have updated to the latest versions of WhatsApp for Android and iOS from the Google Play store and the App Store, respectively. When voice chats are enabled for a group, members will see an option to start a voice chat in place of the group call button.
When a voice chat is started by pressing the new waveform icon at the top right corner of the screen in a group chat, members in the group will get a push notification informing them that they can join in. Everyone in the group — including people who are not part of the voice chat — will be able to see the profiles of participants. You can also perform other tasks on WhatsApp like text other group members who aren’t part of the call.
The new feature also allows users to leave and rejoin the voice chat repeatedly, and a voice chat will end after all participants have left. The voice chat will also end if no participants join — or if there is only one person in the chat for an hour.
WhatsApp’s announcement states that the voice chats feature will first roll out to larger groups with more than 32 members. According to the messaging platform’s frequently asked questions, the feature will be available to users in groups that have between 33 and 128 participants. It will only be accessible via a user’s primary device — linked devices aren’t supported.