WhatsApp is claimed to be working on a feature that will provide transcriptions of received voice messages, allowing you to read what was said without having to listen to it. The WABetaInfo-discovered feature is currently being developed for iOS. It’s unknown when it’ll be available in the WhatsApp beta for iPhone users, or when it’ll be available for Android users.
The function works by transmitting speech data to Apple “to handle your requests,” not to parent firm Facebook, according to a screenshot published by WABetaInfo. The data “will also help Apple improve its speech recognition technology,” according to the disclaimer. Since the functionality hasn’t been formally revealed, it’s unclear how the data “sent to Apple” will be protected. WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption currently protects voice messages.
Voice messages are a valuable WhatsApp function, particularly if you need to send a longer message and aren’t in a position to type it out. However, recipients who don’t have headphones or aren’t in a position to listen to a message out loud, or who just don’t have time to listen to a voice message in its entirety, may encounter issues. People could use transcriptions to discreetly see the contents of a voice communication or to refer to essential details later without having to listen to the audio. Transcripts are saved to the device after they’re made, according to WABetaInfo, and a “Transcript” area makes it easy to go to certain parts of a message. Other auto-transcription applications, such as Google’s Recorder or Otter.ai, allow you to click on a word to jump to the exact instant it’s spoken in a recording. Only third-party software may presently be used to transcribe WhatsApp voice messages.
There is currently no hint of a similar functionality on WhatsApp’s Android app. WABetaInfo speculates that it may be on the way, considering the amount of feature parity between WhatsApp’s various apps.