In the next weeks, WhatsApp will launch a new audio chat function that is intended to be a less disruptive method to make phone calls in big groups. The functionality was previously seen in beta, but WhatsApp has now made the announcement official.
Although audio calls with up to 32 people have long been allowed on WhatsApp, the new voice chat function works a bit differently. When a voice chat begins, group members will not be rung automatically; instead, they will receive a push message and an in-chat bubble that they may press to participate.
Once a voice chat has begun, call controls will be available from the top of the conversation without interfering with a participant's ability to submit text messages. Voice conversations, like other personal WhatsApp communications, are end-to-end encrypted and may be joined by up to 32 people.
Voice conversations will be available in the coming weeks on iOS and Android. According to WhatsApp's feature page, the deployment will begin with bigger group conversations with between 33 and 128 people, thus not everyone in a particular group will be able to join a voice chat at the same time. Groups with fewer than 33 members, presumably, have not been prioritized because they can utilize WhatsApp's current group phone calls functionality.