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WhatsApp will be able to transcribe voice notes in the future, so you don’t have to listen

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

WhatsApp’s voice notes feature might be getting a small, but welcome improvement: the option to transcribe voice notes into text so you don’t have to use your ears.

The feature was originally spotted in the WhatsApp iOS app by WABetaInfo, and has since been confirmed by WhatsApp itself. However, there may be a wait because voice note transcription is still in the “very early stages of designing and prototyping."

In other words it’s going to be quite some time before this feature actually arrives, particularly if you’re not a WhatsApp beta tester. In fact, because this feature involves sending the speech data to Apple, it’s not clear whether it will arrive on Android either.

whatsapp voice note transcription

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

That’s how the feature works in a screenshot shared by WABetaInfo. According to WhatsApp, the voice messages will be protected by end-to-end encryption, but a disclaimer does say Apple may use the data to help improve its own speech recognition technology.

That said, Apple is well known for championing user privacy and security — whereas WhatsApp parent company Facebook has a reputation for the exact opposite. So it seems as though WhatsApp may have learned a thing or two about the controversial privacy policy change earlier this year, which emphasised just how close WhatsApp and Facebook actually are.

whatsapp voice note transcription

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

Hopefully this feature will come to Android as well, to keep parity between the two versions of WhatsApp. Though it’s likely that the recordings will be sent to Google for transcription, rather than Apple. Which isn’t a bad thing, though it’d be interesting to see if pixel devices could utilize the existing auto-transcription feature in Google recorder to do all the work on the device.

Voice messages are an incredibly useful tool to have, since they let you talk out a message instead of having to type the whole thing out by hand. For longer and more complicated stories, this can be a real time saver. But recipients who aren’t in a position to listen to them are basically stuck.

A transcription feature could allow people to read a voice note instead of having to listen to the whole thing. Transcripts are also saved to your device once they’re created, according to WABetaInfo, and users will be able to skip to different parts of the message by selecting a specific part of the transcript itself.

Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.