An Introduction to WhatsApp Voice Notes

Illustration of woman and man sending a WhatsApp voice note

by David Redmond

Typing with VoiceOver can be a pain. For that reason, many visually impaired people tend to like using voice notes or voice messages. Both terms are interchangeable and mean the same thing. A voice note is when you send an audio recording of your message to the recipient or recipients. The message doesn’t get converted to text, you are literally sending a voice recording to the other person for them to listen to. This has many advantages. You can easily hear emotion or sarcasm especially when compared to a screen reader, and explaining a detailed subject is much simpler than just typing or even dictating a long string of text.

Sending a voice message is a nice accessible experience, so let’s look at how it works.

WhatsApp voice recording play button

Sending a voice message

Firstly let’s look at how it works without VoiceOver, and then we’ll look at sending voice notes with VoiceOver turned on.

VoiceOver off

Down at the bottom right there’s a little microphone icon. To start recording a voice note, just touch and hold this icon. As long as you stay holding, the mic will stay recording, and as soon as you lift your finger the message is on its way. It’s just tap, hold, speak, release. A much quicker way of sending messages compared to typing. If you want to cancel a message mid-recording, just move your finger left. You’ll hear a sound indicating that message is gone. If you want to send a long recording and don’t want to hold your finger, just move your finger up. This locks the recording allowing you to lift your finger. To send or cancel a message at this point, you press the respective send and cancel buttons.

Delete, Pause, and Play button in WhatsApp

VoiceOver on

Sending voice notes with VoiceOver is actually relatively similar to when VoiceOver is off. Find the button labeled voice message on the bottom right, then double-tap and hold. You’ll hear a VoiceOver sound followed by a quick vibration. That vibration means your recording. Keep your finger on the screen while you speak, then simply lift to send. If you want to cancel the voice message mid recording just drag your finger left, and to lock the recording drag up. This works exactly the same for voiceover users and non-VoiceOver users. VoiceOver will tell you when a voice message is canceled or when your recording is locked, so you’ll always know what’s happening.

When sending long voice notes, some blind people like to lock the recording and disable VoiceOver’s speech temporarily using a three-finger double tap. They’ll then do the gesture again when it’s time to find the send button on the bottom right. Doing this prevents VoiceOver from speaking over you if you tap the screen by accident, but it’s totally optional.

Voice notes are a handy way to send a quick message, but are also very versatile if you want to send something longer. Another great use case would be if you want to speak Gaeilge, something that is tough to type and read with VoiceOver. Check out the short below to see a demonstration of this feature, and stay tuned for exciting new content coming from us on WhatsApp later this year.