The latest version of mobile messaging app WhatsApp has added voice calling functionality in their latest update - Version 2.12.19.
Voice calling feature was rolled out to select users over two months ago, and the only way to get this feature was to get invited by receiving a call, and had the latest version of the app. This wasn’t a fool-proof way though, as invite windows were opened and closed every few days.
The user experience is quite straightforward — you can call anyone on your WhatsApp list using the Call button on the top right hand corner, and enable speakerphone functionality and chat while calling. The Calls tab, the new addition to the interface, shows you a history of dialled and incoming calls.
Incoming calls use the same ringtone as your default phone ringtone, which makes this new feature all the more uncanny. It won't be long before voice calls does to telcos what instant messaging did to SMSes.
We tried calling making voice calls to iPhone users who had the latest version of the app, but the feature doesn’t seem to be enabled for iOS users yet. Call quality isn’t so impressive right now, more than half the calls we tried didn’t seem to end up with a legible conversation at the other end.
It will be interesting to see how telecom players in India deal with this new feature. TRAI, India's telecom regulator, has begun a discussion on a regulatory framework for OTT services, and is seeking inputs from citizens on 20 questions on the matter till April 24.
According to the latest stats, India alone has a user base of 70 million WhatsApp users.