WhatsApp, the popular multi-platform messaging service, was purchased by Facebook for $16 billion last week, and now we have yet another exciting piece of news for WhatsApp users. WhatsApp, at a Mobile World Congress event announced that it would be adding voice calling services to iOS and Android apps during the second quarter of the year.
WhatsApp’s founder and chief executive, Jan Koum, announced that the company is working on voice calling service, which would be initially introduced on the iPhone and then come to Android in the second quarter of the year. A BlackBerry and Windows Phone version will come at a later date.
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“We are going to introduce voice in WhatsApp in the second quarter of the year,” he told the huge tech gathering at the MWC. “I think we have the best voice product out there.”
For mobile network operators, voice communication and SMSs were once a major source of revenue, but the rise of instant messaging services and social networks have surely put a dent in the revenue of network operators. More and more people have started to use IM apps to save on texting costs.
“We use the least amount of bandwidth out there, and have optimized the hell out of it. We’ve made sure the quality is there, though, just like the messaging functions of WhatsApp,” said Koum.
As we know, WhatsApp already offers a voice messaging feature, which offers the ability to send recorded messages to your contacts. This new voice call feature would be a step further than the existing feature. Right now it’s not clear whether this voice call feature would be limited to only WhatsApp users, or if the company will allow users to even call anyone who doesn’t have WhatsApp installed.
WhatsApp is initially free for the first year, and then costs $1 per year after that.