The sightings are getting warmer. The eagerly awaited voice calling feature for Whatsapp is being tested out for a few users in India and seems to be on an invite-only basis, reports GSM Arena. The publication cites a reddit user, pradenesh07, who posted a number of screen shots of the new features (we checked the reddit thread but the pictures seem to have been taken down as it shows personal information).
The invite-only basis means that users will get a call through Whatsapp from someone who already has the feature updated. The voice calling feature seems to be restricted to Android and you will need the updated 2.11.508 version to access the app. The reddit user, pradnesh07, also added that the he managed to get the feature running on his Nexus 5 smartphone with Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Earlier in January another reddit user posted screen shots of the latest version of the messenger application which showed a folder called “Whatsapp Calls”. Whatsapp also debuted a web app for the Chrome browser only and supports Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone. However iOS users can’t access WhatsApp’s web application.
Last week, Whatsapp’s rival, Hike messenger 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.
Whatsapp earlier in November said that it has hit 70 million monthly active users in India. India is currently the largest market for WhatsApp that had claimed to have 600 million monthly active users worldwide as of August last year.
It will also be interesting to see how telecom operators will react to Whatsapp’s new voice calling feature. Earlier Airtel, in a clear violation of Net Neutrality principles, had announced that it is introducing separate VoIP calling data packages and offered a flimsy reasoning for the move. Airtel eventually backed off, following much ridicule, after forcing the TRAI’s hand on announcing a consultation on net neutrality.