A month after we reported that WhatsApp was testing voice calling for some users in India on an invite-only basis, a new report from IndiaToday says that all Android users are likely to see this feature on their phones. The beta feature will be rolled out to all users using the latest version of WhatsApp (v 2.11.561). Apparently, some users have begun receiving this feature on their Android phones.
Y U No Call?
We’d reported previously that only those users who get a call through an “activated” voice call feature WhatsApp account will get to access the feature. This seems to be the case even at the time of writing this. Despite being updated to WhatsApp’s latest version, we cannot access the feature unless someone with the activated feature “invites” us to use it. Also, once a user receives a call from an activated phone, their WhatsApp interface will change to show chats, contacts and calls. Android Police reports that when someone with an activated WhatsApp account places a call to another user and the call goes unanswered, the feature will not be activated on the second user’s phone.
WhatsApp has not said anything about this feature officially and neither is there any word on the feature for iOS or other platforms. A search for “voice calls” in the WhatsApp FAQ did not return any results at the time of writing.
What’s taking so long?
We wonder why WhatsApp is taking long to adopt a VoIP feature. Other messaging apps like Viber, LINE and Hike have already rolled out this feature. It is strange to roll out an invite-only feature, however excitement it causes or doesn’t. The feature is handy, no denying that. However, Android users have a variety of VoIP apps to choose from and iOS has Facetime which does the same thing differently by connecting all iOS users.
It’s worth noting that Airtel had launched a Skype clone called Airtel Talk, which allows international calls to India, free calls from Airtel Talk to Airtel Talk, instant messaging, video calls, conference calls, apart from file sharing, in October last year.
In November 2014, WhatsApp said that it had 70 million active users in India monthly (of 700 million users worldwide), its biggest market to date. Medianama spoke with Neeraj Arora, head, Business Development, WhatsApp in March last year, and at the time he had said that WhatsApp is looking to launch voice services in Q2 2014. Read the full interview here and here.
Image Credit: Flickr user Merlijn Hoek