WhatsApp update brings a new way to use its chat app, and honestly, it all sounds very chaotic

a hand holding a smartphone with the whatsapp icon

WhatsApp is the most popular messaging service on the planet, with two billion users worldwide

Aaron Brown

By Aaron Brown

Published: 17/11/2023

- 07:01

Updated: 05/12/2023

- 11:02

All-new feature only works with the biggest group chats

  • WhatsApp is rolling out a new method to talk to large groups of people
  • Unlike traditional calls, your phone won't ring when one of these calls begins
  • Known as Voice Chats, the feature only work with groups of 33-128 people

WhatsApp just announced a new chat feature that lets you speak with up to 128 people on the same call. Known as Voice Chat, the new functionality is baked into existing group chats and lets you talk in real-time while you continue to send messages, pictures, and videos.

It all sounds ...a little chaotic, to be honest.

WhatsApp hopes Voice Chat will be less disruptive than traditional group phone calls as people can join the call when it's convenient.

Unlike a standard WhatsApp call, which rings the phone of every contact added to the call, Voice Chat sends a notification to let people know that a call has started.

To join the call, simply tap on the text bubble labelled Voice Chat in the relevant group – and you're off!

During a Voice Chat, group chat members can still send text messages, photos, videos, and PDFs. If that sounds familiar, it's likely because Voice Chat has a lot in common with rival apps Discord and Slack, which seamlessly blend real-time calls and texts.

two screenshots of WhatsApp's new Voice Chat feature in-use

Unlike standard phone calls, Voice Chats start quietly with a single notification – no ringing – and let people join the conversation at a more leisurely pace (and continue to use the app)


This is a key difference from standard calls, which overtake every corner of your screen with a picture of the person(s) calling and quick controls to mute your microphone, enable video, and hang up.

Anyone who doesn't decide to jump into an available Voice Chat in a WhatsApp group will be able to see the profile picture of everyone currently on the call. As mentioned above, even if you can't join the call, you'll be able to send messages to the WhatsApp group to communicate with those in the Voice Chat.

Meta, the parent company that owns WhatsApp and Facebook, says that any audio sent during a Voice Chat will be end-to-end encrypted – preventing third-parties from intercepting the call.

Group chats with fewer than 32 members will be unable to access the feature for now, as WhatsApp prioritises larger groups. This is likely because Meta believes the existing call functionality will be the best option for those in smaller group chats.

WhatsApp has published a number of tutorials on the new feature, which will be slowly rolling out to iOS and Android devices in the coming weeks.

WhatsApp tends to stagger the launch of new features due to the mind-boggling number of users worldwide (now standing over 2 billion) to ensure stability with its servers, so don't panic if you can't immediately access Voice Chats on your handset.

To guarantee you always get the latest features from WhatsApp, check you're running the latest version of the chat app by heading to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

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