WhatsApp is said 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 unclear when it’ll be available in the WhatsApp beta for iPhone users, or when it’ll be available for Android users.
The feature works by sending speech data to Apple “to process your requests,” not to parent company Facebook, according to a screenshot shared by WABetaInfo. The data “will also help Apple improve its speech recognition technology,” according to the disclaimer. Since the feature hasn’t been officially announced, 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 handy WhatsApp feature to have, especially if you need to send a longer message and can’t 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 simply don’t have time to listen to a voice message in its entirety, may encounter issues. People could use transcriptions to silently see the contents of a voice message or to refer to important details later without having to listen to the audio.
Transcripts are saved to the device after they’re created, according to WABetaInfo, and a “Transcript” section makes it easy to skip to specific parts of a message. Other auto-transcription software, such as Google’s Recorder or Otter.ai, allow you to click on a word to jump to the exact moment it’s spoken in a recording. Only third-party software can currently be used to transcribe WhatsApp voice messages.
There is currently no sign of a similar feature on WhatsApp’s Android app. WABetaInfo speculates that it may be on the way, given the level of feature parity between WhatsApp’s various apps.