Free voice calls coming to WhatsApp on iOS and Android by mid-2014

By on February 24, 2014, 12:15 PM
voip, mobile, voice calls, whatsapp

WhatsApp has purposely kept its messaging client focused on core features since launching in 2009. While some of its rivals have found success in adding stuff like stickers and games, a note taped on CEO Jason Koum’s desk that reads “no ads, no games, no gimmicks” serves as a daily reminder of their commitment to stay focused on building a pure messaging experience. There’s one area where they do intend to catch up soon, though.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Koum announced that WhatsApp will expand to voice calls in the second quarter of 2014. The new feature is expected to roll out on Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems first, eventually making its way to other platforms like Windows Phone and Blackberry.

Although rivals including Viber, Line, BBM and other have been offering free voice calls for a while, the company feels confident their solution will be the best out there. "We use the least amount of bandwidth and optimize the hell out of it,” Koum said. WhatsApp not long ago added “hold-to-talk” voice messages in its mobile clients and it’s admittedly one of the most straightforward implementations so far.

With 450 million users worldwide and engagement rates at over 70%, the move is bound to make WhatsApp more of a threat to some mobile network operators, which have already seen revenue from SMS go down.

Koum also took the opportunity to reassure everyone in attendance that the company intends to remain autonomous and operate independently of Facebook following its $19 billion acquisition. "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.”

WhatsApp is free to use for the first year and then $1 per year. The company has vowed never to rely on advertising for revenue and says that as a product they want to know as little as possible about users.




User Comments: 12

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Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Please pretty please make it possible to send and receive messages from a computer! For example... from facebook!

tonylukac said:

Sounds kind of dumbbell. Data is usually more expensive than voice calls. Most people have unlimited voice calling anyway. Maybe useful as a cordless phone. Also, on tweaktown it says they had an outage and they may charge for it in th future.

[link]

Seventh Reign Seventh Reign said:

Think about this 450 Million users at $1 per year is $450 Million Dollars per year.

Guest said:

WhatsApp developers are fooling themselves if the personal information of users will remain private, if the deal goes through with Facebook. Facebook does not have the integrity protect privacy of users. Passed lapses and arbitrary changes to privacy policy has exposed Facebook users private data to scrutiny by anyone as in many cases it has been made public by the privacy policy changes.

Furthermore, Facebook needs to monetize the $19Billion they have offered to purchase WhatsApp.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Sounds kind of dumbbell. Data is usually more expensive than voice calls. Most people have unlimited voice calling anyway. Maybe useful as a cordless phone. Also, on tweaktown it says they had an outage and they may charge for it in th future.

[link]

Most people? I know no one that has unlimited voice calls, although I know a lot of people who have unlimited bandwidth, like me.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Think about this 450 Million users at $1 per year is $450 Million Dollars per year.

Yes... cause server maintainance is free!

tonylukac said:

@Kibaruk My bother has Tmobile and he has unlimited voice for $50. All of Tmobile has unlimited voice. I thought verizon and att have such plans too.

BosPatrollie BosPatrollie said:

Yes... cause server maintainance is free!

ROFLMAO!!!!! Now everyone in the office thinks I am mad ... burst out laughing just now!

Back to the topic at hand ... it would be GREAT if they can incorporate free voice calls ... though I expect it to be limited in number and length ... but would still be worthwhile.

waqasr said:

Guys the voice calling is an attractive offer for people who have friends & families in different regions of the world. International calling is very expensive that is why most people rely on skype/Viber/etc. WhatApp is kind of behind in features since Viber/Line/Others had this for some time now.

"Although rivals including Viber, Line, BBM and other have been offering free voice calls for a while, the company feels confident their solution will be the best out there. "We use the least amount of bandwidth and optimize the hell out of it," "

I hope that is true but to be honest with you I have even used voice calling (msn messenger) on dial up in 2002 (USA to ASIA) and it worked pretty well (unfortunately broadband was not available in my area at that time).

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@Kibaruk My bother has Tmobile and he has unlimited voice for $50. All of Tmobile has unlimited voice. I thought verizon and att have such plans too.

Good for you 'murican, for the rest of us in the world unlimited voice plans are quite expensive and in my case data plans are cheaper so this is great news for those who not reside in the "world".

ROFLMAO!!!!! Now everyone in the office thinks I am mad ... burst out laughing just now!

Back to the topic at hand ... it would be GREAT if they can incorporate free voice calls ... though I expect it to be limited in number and length ... but would still be worthwhile.

Good to get a laugh from time to time :P

Why would it be limited in number and length? They would be out of your connection, not theirs they just make the link between two accounts.

tonylukac said:

@Kibaruk Ah, but we in north america have shitty internet plans. Try $70 a month for comcast 1 meg download speeds at night. I have att uverse and that was difficult to install, or pay the piper att to install it (with ooma internet land line). And it took them 8 days to connect 2 wires to the junction box. Often thought of moving to Chile. Even know a little espaņol. Another little secret att is going to do that I figured out because there are landline jacks on the uverse gateway and they verified it is they are going to replace all landlines with uverse internet lines by 2020.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Well then you just keep talking over the line instead of the internet, for you this change doesn't apply since you don't need it, for the rest of us who have better data than voice plans this is better

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