UPDATE: The new Steam Chat with voice chat and a revamped friends list has officially rolled out to all Steam users. The features mentioned below from the beta are present in the full release, albeit with a few minor refinements and bug fixes (opens in new tab).
[Original article below]
PC gamers using the Steam client have typically had to turn to third-party programs such as Discord or Teamspeak to power in-game voice chat, but it looks like Valve is finally getting around to integrating the much-desired feature with the introduction of a new Steam Chat service.
Available now in the Steam client beta (opens in new tab), Steam Chat offers the ability to chat with other users on Steam with either group or individual messaging – via both text and voice – as well offering a host of improvements to the client’s friends list.
Improvements include a simplified “favorites” list that will pin certain friends to the top, an expanded detail set for what each friend is playing and where they are in the game (for instance, sitting on the main menu or facing off in deathmatch), as well as organisational changes, such as grouping friends by the game they’re currently playing or the party they’re in.
New yet familiar
In many ways, the new Steam Chat resembles the popular voice-chat service Discord, so gamers already using that service will likely be familiar with the functionality already.
"Every chat on Steam is now multimedia friendly," Steam’s page states, meaning you’ll be able to share GIFs, videos from YouTube, audio from SoundCloud and more within the chat itself.
Steam Chat is available to trial now and is in beta on both the desktop client and in your web browser.