Popular OTT mobile messaging service WhatsApp has now flipped the switch to enable voice calling for all users of its Android app.
Users can make voice calls through the internet to other WhatsApp users (on Android) without the need for any invites, hacks and tweaks. However, they’ll need to download and install the APK installation file for the latest version of WhatsApp (Version 2.12.19) from WhatsApp’s website since the Play Store still has an older build. The development was first reported by Android Police. It’s still not clear if the auto-activation of voice calls is temporary or permanent as WhatsApp has not officially announced the rollout of the feature yet.
After testing the feature with select users, WhatsApp started rolling out the awaited internet calling functionality to a wider set of people, last month. However, to get the voice calling feature activated users needed to receive a call from a user who had the service already turned on. However, this invite system did not work for all users.
The feature is still not available yet on the iPhone. It also doesn’t work on Windows Phone handsets, at the moment.
After activation of the feature, WhatsApp’s user interface changes to feature separate screens for dialing a voice call to WhatsApp contacts, call logs and ongoing calls. The chat window also displays a calling button (represented by a phone icon). The active call screen sports buttons for turning on the loudspeaker, switching to the chat window and for muting the call.
The voice calling feature brings WhatsApp in direct clash with apps like WeChat, Viber and Line that already allow users to make calls and send messages. WhatsApp is the biggest instant messaging app in the world, with 700 million active users in January 2015.