New Delhi: After an extended beta test, WhatsApp is now offering a free voice calling feature to all its Android users. This makes WhatsApp more competitive against services like Skype, Viber and Apple iMessage/FaceTime.
The calling feature was earlier available in beta to a small number of users, followed by availability on an invitation-only basis.
The latest version of WhatsApp, v2.12.19, offers the calling feature as it does not require someone with WhatsApp call feature already activated to call you. All you need to do is hit up the WhatsApp website and download v2.12.19.
The feature is still not available yet on the iPhone. It also doesn't work on Windows Phone handsets, at the moment.
It is worth mentioning that once you are on a call through the app, network calls will not work. You will be required to move to your phone's regular calling feature to place calls over the cellular network.
WhatsApp launched its services in 2009 as a simple group text messaging app, but a voice messaging feature was added in August 2013. In February 2014 it was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion. By April 2014, WhatsApp was hitting over 500 million monthly active users, 700 million photos shared per day, 100 million videos shared per day and 10 billion messages sent per day. A few months ago, WhatsApp launched a desktop client service called WhatsApp Web — which is activated by Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone or Nokia S60 devices.
The WhatsApp calling feature also enables you switch to speakerphone, mute the call and view the time spent during the call. It is worth mentioning that you cannot access 911 and other emergency service numbers through WhatsApp.