WhatsApp to enable voice calling in second quarter

By , Feb 24, 2014

whatsapp ios 7 2

WhatsApp, the popular cross-platform instant messaging software for mobile phones, announced on Monday that it will be enabling voice calling over data networks (VoIP) for the 465 million of its users come second quarter of 2014.

The move is part of broader plans to reach a billion users by year’s end, co-founder and chief executive Jan Koum said this morning at Mobile World Congress, which runs from Monday through Thursday in Barcelona, Spain.

WhatsApp is in the process of being acquired by the social networking giant, Facebook, in a transaction valued at $4 billion in cash and approximately $12 billion in Facebook shares. The development essentially means that Facebook now owns a phone company…

According to CNET, Koum said in a speech at Mobile World Congress:

We want to make sure people always have the ability to stay in touch with their friends and loved ones really affordably. We’re going to introduce voice on WhatsApp in the second quarter of this year.

iOS and Android editions of WhatsApp will get voice calling first.

The feature will be rolled out later to Windows Phone and some BlackBerry phones.

The Guardian reports that WhatsApp’s voice calling features will be free.

The program already offers voicemail, the ability to send recorded messages to contacts. The team is  currently optimizing voice calling to use “the least amount of bandwidth,” according to Koum.

The development is another indication that Facebook intends to operate WhatsApp as a separate entity, as promised, because Facebook Messenger has had VoIP calling in place since January of last year.

“In order for WhatsApp to be successful, it really needs to be independent,” Koum said. “There are no planned changes. We can only get our product to a billion or 2 billion users if we continue down the path we started on.”

He also said there is no reason to worry about privacy implications in regard to the Facebook deal:

We as a company and product want to know as little as possible about our users. We don’t want to know your name or where you live. There’s no plans to change that.

But plans can change down the road…

For WhatsApp, the most popular instant messaging platform in the world, an expansion to voice communications is a logical next step, especially given rival Viber recently added low-cost VoIP calling with a Skype-like Viber Out feature.

On Valentine’s Day, Viber confirmed it would get acquired by e-commerce giant Rakuten for $900 million. As for WhatsApp, it was also revealed that Mark Zuckerberg and his acquisition team at Facebook were able to beat Google which tried to buy the app for about $10 billion.

Coincidentally or not, WhatsApp suffered a major service outage just as the deal with Facebook was announced. The team attributed the downtime to “server issues,” but wouldn’t comment further.

WhatsApp is available free of charge in the App Store.

The app is free to use for the first year, after which it’s $1 per year.

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  • Sokrates

    Switching to Telegram!

    • Just Abe

      already switched :D 80% of the people I regularly speak already have it. I’ll delete WhatsApp in a week. People can text me or install Telegram.

      Let’s get this Telegram take-over get started. Revolution is here!

      P.S. I don’t care about the whole Facebook drama. I just like Telegram because it’s very fast and has desktop and browser apps.

      • Clique

        Does Telegram have Voice calls?

      • Agru

        Not yet

    • Agru

      Oh I love that app, very simple, very minimal. Unfortunately nobody has it

  • Willie

    Soon, you will have to connect to Facebook. Then you will have to buy credits and stuff and yes….

    • Just Abe

      they’ll probably link the status message to Facebook as well. Change your status message on WhatsApp, and it’ll be posted on Facebook. People can like your status and poke you on WhatsApp.

  • Sputnik09

    Riiiing…. Riiing “Hello? Zuck? F**K YOU!!!!

  • Roboter

    Facebook want to hear us :D

    • omrishtam

      NSA*

      • Roboter

        Those one too :D

  • Yes

    FINALLY!

  • Jason Baroni

    Add whatever you want, but don’t f*** us with ads. Thanks.

    • Matthew Cleveland

      Facebook bought Instagram then added ads to that, Only a matter of time.

      • DannyPrecise

        I noticed ads for a day or two and then no more ads since. Have they renege on their policy?

      • Matthew Cleveland

        Not sure. I’m not an Instagram user so I can only go by what is reported in the news. Hopefully they stopped it.

      • Jason Baroni

        Yeah, I know. This would be even more disgusting for them on Whats App.

  • omrishtam

    nice move NSA…i mean facebook

  • Rowan09

    Facebook and WhatsApp is going after Skype, in Jamaica where I’m natively from WhatsApp is very popular.

  • jack

    ALL WE WANT IS GIF SUPPORT!!!

  • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

    Switched to BBM.

  • https://twitter.com/noernandez Noé Hernández

    BBM ROCKS!