Today we’re rolling out an update to PublicTest that includes a new feature: Parties for Rift, so you can talk live with friends. In Oculus Home or Universal Menu, you can select a friend and choose “Invite to Party.” Friends in your party can chat with you across Rift apps, or wherever you go in VR. Each party can support a total of four people at a time and each person must have the PublicTest build installed to use Parties on Rift. Access to Parties will be rolling out gradually over the next twenty-four hours, so if you don’t see it right away, be patient.
For complete 1.17 release notes please refer to this post