Instant messaging service WeChat’s parent company Tencent has released dedicated VoIP calling apps Dianhua & Lightalk for Chinese and international users respectively, reports TechCrunch. This service is not yet available in India.
WeChat already allows users to make voice over internet protocol (VoIP) calls over Wi-Fi or the phone’s network connection. Now Tencent has built on this feature and developed independent voice calling apps. The apps offer voicemail feature and claims to provide HD quality voice calls.
Chinese users need a WeChat account to be able to use Dianhua, and imports contacts from WeChat onto the new app. On the other hand, Lightalk doesn’t require a WeChat account but can import contacts from the phone’s address book or from Tencent’s other messenger app QQ. Strangely, it doesn’t allow importing of contacts from WeChat.
Currently, the service is limited to app-to-app voice calls. It’ll be interesting to see if Tencent expands it to include calls made to mobile phones and landlines, like its competitor LINE. The Japanese mobile messaging app had launched its voice calling service LINE Call in May this year, and later extended it to India in September. Last year, Viber had also launched its calling service Viber Out.
Microsoft’s Internet telephony service Skype also allows users to make voice calls, however the company has blocked voice calls to phones within India. Indian users can continue making free Skype-to-Skype calls within India and make International calls from India to mobiles and landlines in other countries. Earlier this month, Google also extended international voice calls from Google Hangouts to India.
WhatsApp voice calling: Earlier this year, Facebook-owned mobile messaging app WhatsApp had revealed plans of introducing voice calls. However, the plans now seem to have been delayed indefinitely. WhatsApp business head Neeraj Arora had told Medianama that they are still working on the feature and declined to disclose any specific timeline for the launch.
In the mobile messaging space, WhatsApp & WeChat are the two main competitors. WeChat has over 430 million monthly active users (MAUs) globally, while WhatsApp claims to have over 600 MAUs. It’ll be interesting to see if WeChat’s entry into the voice calling space forces WhatsApp to follow suit.