Group calls and group voice chats are two different things, and WhatsApp doesn't want people to use it interchangeably.
This is because WhatsApp is introducing a voice chat feature that is significantly larger than ever before, and that users can come and go as they please. Designed to be a less disruptive, the group voice chats feature is nothing like the traditional group calls.
While WhatsApp has long been supporting voice calls with up to 32 participants, this new voice chat works differently.
First, group participants won’t be rung automatically when a voice chat starts and instead, they will receive a push notification.
There is also an in-chat bubble they can tap to join.
Once a voice chat is underway, users can see call controls on top of the chat, which can be accessed at any time.
rolling out now: voice chat for your larger groups!
you’ll soon have the option to talk it out live with whoever can join or keep texting with whoever can’t
— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) November 13, 2023
But what makes this group voice chat 'bigger' that a group call is that, the feature allows users to chat with between 33 and 128 participants.
Because of the sheer number of people that are connected in a group, according to WhatsApp, not everyone in a given group will be able to join a voice chat at once.
Another way of saying this, group voice chats are different than ordinary group calls.
Because the feature allows users to have a discussion with more people than they could in a group call, the feature is a lot like a Discord or Slack voice chats.
To start a group voice chat in WhatsApp, users first need to be in a group chat.
Then, they have to tap the voice chat button, which looks like a sound wave icon.
An in-chat notification is sent to the group and others can tap the notification to join the chat. That's the only notification others will get of the call. Their phone won't ring.
"Once you start the voice chat, group members will receive a push notification to join instead of a call. You can see who has joined the voice chat in a banner on the bottom of the screen," explained WhatsApp in a dedicated FAQ page.
What's worth noting is that, the feature is only available for groups of 33 to 128 people, and can only be used on users' primary device. Group members who aren't in the voice chat can see the profiles of those in the voice chat from the chat header and the Calls tab.
It's also worth noting that voice chats will automatically end once everyone left the chat, and that it will also end if no one joins the first or last person in the chat for 60 minutes.
To leave a voice chat, tap .