WhatsApp is upgrading its voice chat tool so it can host a lot more people

WhatsApp is upgrading the Voice Chat feature on mobile so users can now host large group calls with up to 128 participants. 

The platform has yet to make a formal announcement of the changes through its usual avenues although details can be found on its Help Center support website. On the surface, the tool’s functionality is pretty straightforward. You can start a group voice chat by going to a group chat, tapping the audio read-out icon in the upper right-hand corner, and selecting Start Voice Chat. The company states this is “only available on your primary device” and calls will automatically end the moment everyone leaves. Additionally, they instantly end after an hour if no one “joins the first or last person in the chat”. 

Silent calls

There is more to this update than what’s on the support page as other news reports reveal a much more robust feature. According to TechCrunch, Voice Chat for Larger Groups is “designed to be less disruptive” than a regular group call. Participants will not be rung when a call starts. Instead, they will “receive a push notification” with an in-chat bubble you have to tap in order to join. 

At the top of the screen is a series of controls where you can mute, unmute, or message other people in the group without having to leave. Of course, you can hang up any time you want using the same controls. Like with all forms of messaging on WhatsApp, the large voice chats will be end-to-end encrypted.


The Verge states the patch will be rolling out to the Android and iOS apps over the coming weeks, however, it’ll first be made available to bigger groups hosting 33 to 128 participants. It’s unknown why smaller chats will have to wait to receive the same feature. But as The Verge points out, it could be because the Group Voice Call tool already exists. Meta is seemingly prioritizing the larger chats first before moving on to all users.

No word if WhatsApp has plans to expand this to their desktop app; although we did ask. This story will be updated at a later time.

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Apple could be working on a whole host of financial and banking tools

Apple is reportedly working on a multi-year plan to develop its own payment processing technology and infrastructure in an effort to further build out its portfolio of financial products.

As reported by Bloomberg, the move would allow the iPhone maker to reduce its reliance on outside partners but it could also enable the company to expand its payment features beyond the US.

According to people familiar with the matter that spoke with the news outlet, the multi-year plan would bring a number of financial tasks in-house including payment processing, risk assessment for lending, fraud analysis, credit checks and other customer-service functions like handling disputes.

Since Apple is reportedly investigating the idea of launching its own hardware subscription service, being able to run credit checks and risk assessments before providing customers with devices makes a great deal of sense.

Future financial products

Although Apple already offers a credit card as well as peer-to-peer payments for businesses, its efforts to develop its own payment processing technology and infrastructure  will be focused on future financial products.

Back in July of last year, news broke that the company is also working on a “buy now, pay later” feature for Apple Pay Transactions that would allow customers to pay for items across four interest-free payments every two weeks or across several months with interest. While the plan with four payments is known internally as “Apple Pay in 4”, the longer term payment plans have been dubbed “Apple Pay Monthly Installments”.

While Apple will continue its partnership with Goldman Sachs according to Bloomberg, the company has been discussing using in-house technology for its “Apple Pay in 4” plan. 

At the same time though, the company’s in-house financial services could allow it to expand future services to additional countries. Currently Apple Pay is available in over 70 countries but other services such as peer-to-peer payments, Apple Card and Apple Cash are still US-only.

The news that Apple wants to bring more of its financial services in-house also aligns with a recent job posting looking for a hardware validation engineer to help upgrade its datacenters. Storing financial data and handling transactions could put a heavy load on its systems which is why the company wants to upgrade its datacenters with “next-generation” storage and server equipment from Intel and AMD.

Via 9to5Mac

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