What you need to know
- WhatsApp could be working on a nifty group calling capability.
- The platform has been spotted testing an audio chat feature similar to Twitter Spaces.
- This appears to be under development, although there's no guarantee that it will become public.
WhatsApp has already taken a few steps to allow large groups of people to stay connected in its "Community" tab, but a potential feature may give users a new alternative to Twitter's Spaces or Discord's voice chats.
A new feature presumably under development appears to allow group members to initiate or join an audio chat, in which they can easily hop in or leave whenever they choose, as spotted by WABetaInfo. WhatsApp's latest beta version (v126.96.36.199) includes hints at this option, and WABetaInfo managed to activate a new interface for group audio chats.
As seen in the screenshot below, the as-yet-unreleased capability replaces the call button with a waveform icon, which sits next to the video calling button at the top of a group's conversation screen. Once tapped, you'll be greeted with options to "Open audio chat" or "Call group."
Once you're in a group audio chat, you'll see a red button at the top for ending (or exiting) the call. At the moment, though, the button is not functional, and tapping on the waveform icon does nothing.
It is unclear when and if the Meta-owned platform will release the feature. WABetaInfo claims that audio chats are currently under development, though there's no guarantee that this feature will make it to a final release.
Audio chats are uncommon among many of the leading messaging platforms, so it should set WhatsApp apart from the competition if it does add it in the future. Meanwhile, Slack already has "Huddles" and Discord supports voice chats. The competition could heat up if WhatsApp's audio chats are really in the pipeline.
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Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.