Android

WhatsApp Android Users Can Now Enjoy Voice Calls – No Invite Required

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Voice calling finally becomes an official WhatsApp feature on Android. Here’s why it’s bad news for telecom companies.

The long wait for WhatsApp?s Voice Calling feature is over–for Android users, at least. The popular Facebook-owned messaging application is quietly rolling out the feature to users on Google?s mobile OS. It means you no longer have to wait for an invitation to get make and receive the much awaited WhatsApp calls.

WhatsApp?s Voice Calling is finally official

The messaging company first revealed its plan to launch voice calls early last year during the Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona. It wasn?t until the past few months when the calling feature started to appear on select Android users? apps.

Previously, you need to wait for another user who have voice calling activated on their WhatsApp to call you so you can enable the feature on your own device. Now that it?s official, you?ll simply need to update WhatsApp to the latest version to be able to begin using it for calls.

This feature is activated when the application?s version 2.12.5 becomes available on Google Play, which is available at the time of this writing.

Android Police reports that some users who have this version are still unable to get it. The site shared that you can definitely have WhatsApp voice calls if you download the newest version 2.12.9 directly from the messenger?s official website. Doing so, however, requires that you have to sideload the app. All you have to do is download the APK file and install it on your Android phone. Make sure you have the ?Unknown Sources? enabled from your device?s Security Setting before downloading the file. Once you fire up the app?s latest version, you should be able to see a new ?Calls? tab alongside Chats and Contacts.

Why telecom companies need to change

With over 700 million (and growing) monthly active users, there?s no denying that WhatsApp has become a significant player?in the mobile messaging world. That growth is probably the main reason why Facebook prudently bought the app last year for a staggering $19 billion.

This new voice calling feature will only add to the messenger?s appeal to its throng of users. Yes, Skype, Viber, and a multitude of other apps are already offering VoIP (voice over IP) call for some time. However, WhatsApp is unique in that it pairs your contacts with those in your phonebook using your own phone number and therefore integrates with your smartphone far more smoothly. Moreover, it is already quickly replacing SMS as the de facto text message app for many users.

So, what do telcos or carriers need to worry about when this WhatsApp innovation reaches worldwide preference? To begin with, you need to know that these companies profit from charging people for services like call minutes, texts, and mobile data. When all people use WhatsApp to send texts and make calls, those telecom services mentioned will effectively be redundant. Consumers will realize that it?s no longer a good idea to pay their carrier?s monthly fee for something that they are not using anymore. Nevertheless, these companies won?t die off right away. They will still be needed to provide the mobile Internet connection that WhatsApp need in order to work but they have to find a better deal for subscribers.

Coming to iOS soon

iPhone users don?t need to feel left out–word has it that the feature will also come to iOS soon. Tech site Venture Beat reports that Brian Acton, one of the app?s co-founders, shared during the recent F8 Conference that WhatsApp voice calls for iPhone ?will arrive ?a few weeks? after the Android roll out.

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Photo Credit: ?WhatsApp Media Kit

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