Meta is testing a new feature for WhatsApp users that will allow incoming voicemails as well as uploaded status updates to be transcribed into text form.
Currently in the experimental stage and available to a limited group of users, WhatsApp’s new message transcription feature is based on Apple’s voice recognition technologies and looks set to be exclusive to iPhone users. The feature is designed for situations where we cannot listen and reply directly to incoming voicemails and does not involve transferring the recordings to Facebook, as the processing will only take place on the user’s phone.
Text conversions made from the iOS version of WhatsApp could become even more accurate as time goes on, with Apple’s voice recognition engine able to adapt to the vocal timbre of the people you’re in touch with. Apple gives assurances that the information collected to improve the service is processed anonymously, ruling out the possibility that the audio samples collected are in any way attributed to your identity.
The first time you use the text conversion feature, the WhatsApp client will request permission to access the iOS speech recognition engine. Further, text transcripts will receive the label of the contact from whom you received the voicemail and the date/time of the voicemail. The messages are stored in the WhatsApp message archive and synced across all devices associated with that account.
The functionality tested with the WhatsApp Beta version for iOS only mirrors similar functionality already offered by rival platforms such as Telegram. The difference for WhatsApp fans might be that the service is free, unless Meta makes it exclusive to Business Premium subscribers.