Telegram's new voice chats feature can handle thousands of participants

Messaging app Telegram has released a new update that adds Voice Chats, a feature the company describes as 'persistent conference calls' with a revolving door of members. The feature has rolled out just ahead of the Christmas holiday, giving users a new option for talking with a large group of people from the safety of one's own home.

Telegram already featured Group Chats; this new update enables those groups to become a voice chat room, the company explained today, giving teams, friends, or communities a way to talk in real-time with a degree of flexibility not possible on regular group calls.

Assuming the group has voice chat functionality available, users will be able to see which members are actively talking. Users can join the call, then continue to use the app as usual, including reading and sending messages. The app places a microphone control over the main thread so users can easily mute and unmute themselves.

Assuming you use an Android device, you can take this a step further by enabling the Telegram floating widget, which means the microphone control will be readily accessible even if you have Telegram running in the background. If you use the desktop apps, you'll have access to a push-to-talk key.

Telegram notes that users can join voice chats with users that are already on or send invites to users. Up to a 'few thousand' people can participate in voice chats, which makes the platform one of the most useful options for large groups of people. The company says that it is working on additional features and that in 'coming weeks,' it'll add things like screen sharing, video support, and better noise suppression.