The battle between internet messengers witnessed lots of action in 2020 as more and more people took to it for communicating with friends and colleagues during the Covid-19-led lockdown. With Facebook pushing both Whatsapp and Messenger, Telegram couldn't be far behind as it proved by launching voice chat rooms.
Having launched video-supported calls and a slew of emojis in August, Telegram's new group voice chats allows users to participate in an always-on basis while also working in parallel on other activities on the app. So, any user on Telegram can now use this new feature as a voice chat room.
In a blog post (opens in new tab), telegram says that while the latest feature is not meant for just for group calls, they could achieve similar goals. The voice chats work in parallel with the existing text changes, giving users the option of speaking live with friends, family or colleagues. They can drop-in or drop-out of these calls at will.
Since the voice chats is a parallel activity to texting, the purpose is to add another layer of "ephemeral talk to the group" which gives users the option of joining by voice when they want to while at other times continuing with other activity such as browsing conversations, sending texts and / or media.
The voice chats can be muted through the microphone controls on the phone. So, if a user joins a business conversation via voice chat, one can go off it for a brief while to attend to a call or some other activity and rejoin it later. Interestingly, their blog claims that the feature would be perfect for Christmas carol singing, which has seen bit of a downslide due to physical distancing norms.
Video chat features
In some ways, the video chat features remind us of Discord (opens in new tab), the instant messaging and digital distribution platform focused on creating communities. So, any group on Telegram can become an always-on voice chat room. And groups that have one such room displays a bar at the top that tells members who's speaking at the moment.
On-screen microphone controls allow users to perform several functions such as end conversations, mute and unmute them etc. Users on Android get a system-wide floating widget that shows mic controls while the app runs in the background. Users can also invite members into such groups, and Telegram says a few thousands can actively participate in such rooms.
The new group voice chat feature has been rolled out on the Telegram app on both Android and iOS. Additionally, it would also be available on the desktop as well as the native macOS app.
And, there's more...
But that's not all that Telegram has brought in as part of its 12th update this year. Other additions include allowing users to move data from the app from internal to external storage options such as SD cards.
There are also a bunch of updated animations for the message button, chat folders and others on the Android version. Telegram claims that the animated stickers will deliver 180 frame animations with infinite resolution in less than 50 KB, which would make them faster than before.
Another welcome feature on Telegram is that users can edit an image they received via the messenger, while iOS users can enable Siri to read incoming messages aloud on their headphones. The company said that most of these features have started to rollout and would be complete at the earliest.