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Hike Messenger introduces free voice calls on Android

Hike, the messenger service backed by Bharti Softbank which is a JV between the two companies, has launched free voice calls on its application for Android phones. This comes three weeks after its acquisition of VoIP startup Zip-Phone. Hike on its blog said that the service is still in beta testing and the company will introduce a number of improvements quickly. It says that it will be rolling out the service on to iOS and Windows platforms in the coming months. Founded by Anuj Jain in the US, Zip Phone was initially released as ‘Awaaz’ a ‘plugin’ for Android phones, that enabled direct phone-to-phone (P2P) calling over WiFi. Consequently the app rebranded itself as Zip Phone, and made it to the Y Combinator list for the Summer batch of 2014. Hike claims to have 35 million registered users, but that does not give an actual indication of how many people are actively using the application. Hike's biggest competition in India is Facebook-owned Whatsapp with about 70 million active users. Whatsapp have been saying that they would introduce voice calls in early 2015 but there's still no word on that yet. A reddit user spotted a new folder in the latest Android update for Whatsapp which might gives us some idea that it may be in the works. Earlier this month, Whatsapp debuted a web app for the Chrome browser only. Why Hike's free voice calls is interesting Earlier Airtel, in a clear violation of Net Neutrality principles, had announced that it is introducing separate VoIP…

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