WhatsApp plans to add voice call services this spring

Shortly after being acquired by Facebook for a mere $16 billion, popular messaging service WhatsApp has announced plans to add voice services in the second quarter of this year. WhatsApp's now larger-than-465-million-userbase will be able to not only send each other text and picture images, but actually be able to call each other. WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum made the announcement at MWC, as reported by TechCrunch:

“We use the least amount of bandwidth and we use the hell out of it,” [Koum] said. “We will focus on simplicity.” Voice will come to Android and iOS first and then following on some Nokia and BlackBerry phones, he added.

Google's own Hangouts service supports similar features, including a slow but steady integration of the older Google Voice phone service, as well as support video chat. Of course, there are a number of other services that support texts, images, voice calls, and video calls, including Skype, BBM, and Facebook Messenger — though WhatsApp's service has been consistently more lean and focused than the competing offerings from larger companies.

There's no word yet on if the $1/year subscription cost will remain the same once more data-intensive VoIP comes to WhatsApp in the next few months, but we imagine that if there's an increase it probably won't be too bad. What do you think — is WhatsApp voice the VoIP service you've been waiting for?

Source: TechCrunch


Reader comments

WhatsApp plans to add voice call services this spring


Ah, you keep reminding me that Hangouts hasn't integrated with Google Voice. Seems like they should get on that... haha

How the truth comes out why Facebook made this purchase.

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Can someone enlighten me as to what is sooooo great about this app? It's a messaging app, right? I use Handcent SMS for texting.

I don't use, or acknowledge the word ""troll"".

Whatsapp is NOT for SMS, it's a messaging-over-IP thing, like BlackBerry Messenger or Hangouts (when it didn't let you use SMS) or Facebook Messenger. It was easier to use than BBM since all you needed was the phone number added in your contact lists for it to detect who had Whatsapp instead of a PIN and it hardly uses any data when texting, so it's cheaper if you don't have unlimited SMS plans (or if you do but your friends don't then it's easier for them to reply since they're going over data)

Not every carrier, worldwide, offers unlimited sms plans.
Not sure for that app you mention but with Whatsapp I can easily add international contacts and chat with them with no additional cost.

Yup, for the first year...then you get charged a buck ($1) to continue to use the service=not totally free

I've used it for at least 4 years now... they keep extending the free period. Still haven't payed a penny, yet. And even if they start collecting this year, I wouldn't mind paying a dollar for a whole year.

Hangouts doesn't offer voice calling to all users yet... and the rollout is sooooooooo slow. I like this move; all of my friends have whatsapp, most of them are on Facebook, 1/4 or them are on Google+ (and even less are active) and NONE use hangouts. N O N E. I've tried to get them to switch (the syncing between devices is what I love about Hangouts and that's totally missing on Whatsapp) but still I'm the only one :(

I feel your pain.

All my friends are on Whatsapp and won't move over to Hangouts. Some even complain about things like Whatsapp only working on 1 device but still won't switch.

I'm still trying to understand what's so great about paying $1 a year (in addition to your carrier charges) for unlimited text and picture messaging (and soon voice) when most carriers now offer unlimited text/pic messaging and voice right now with their plans. The only thing that you can get hit for is data overage charges and I'm pretty sure all of this text, pic, and soon voice from WhatsApp will all be going over data....so what's the bonus of using WhatsApp over your carriers most already most likely unlimited txt and voice plan? Sure it may be handy for international communication but that's the only thing I can think of off of the top of my head.

I can't recall the last time I've had to use an SMS. In my country we don't have those unlimited plans (and I wouldn't use them anyway, I also seldom even call people now haha) and having services like Whatsapp that use your existing data instead of your existing minutes/SMS allotments is a great way of communicating with others. Like you say, if you have international friends, this takes away the long distance charges. Traveling abroad? Get on WiFi and still be able to message and call your friends and family back home. And if Whatsapp were to add multiplatform syncing (like Hangouts or Facebook Messenger) that would be even greater, as now you're not even limited to your phone to communicate with your contacts. So yeah, there's a reason why 1 buck a year is very well worth it, even if there are other free alternatives like Facebook Messenger or Hangouts. Oh, and by the way, I've been using Whatsapp for years and so far, I haven't payed a dime; they keep extending the free period every year for me.

Oh, and data usage for Whatsapp at least is pretty minimal. I don't think I've even gone above 20 or 30 Megs a month and that's when I get a lot of pictures from my groups. If it's only texting, I'd say it would be a couple of Megs.

Over here in the UK while all carriers offer unlimited SMS plans not all have unlimited mins and very few include any MMS messages. MMS messages can cost a fair bit.

From what I understand that is also the case in most of Europe and Asia which explains why Whatsapp is much bigger over here then in the States.

You might want to rethink the whole "most carriers now offer unlimited ....".
We can't reasure that at a worldwide level. At least in Colombia, there are 5 or 6 carriers and none offer unlimited anything.

Yeah that's one of the reasons why I mentioned it might be handy for international communications. I wasn't exactly sure what plans are like in the other countries and I figured it was rather different than what it's like here in the states. To be honest I would much rather have more data and lose unlimited voice and text. I hardly do either anyways and if I wanted to text/message more, there are plenty of alternatives to SMS which are way better and run over data.

The lack of Google Voice integration into Google Hangouts on Android has me baffled. This 'feature' was released on iOS months ago and still there hasn't been any updates for us. It's time Google, don't forget your loyal user base. Hopefully, Whatsapp entering this market may just push them to finish this project sooner.

I hope hangouts will get voice and automatic choice between normal texting and texting through the internet, like iMessage. That would be a iPhone killer function!

I'm more interested in a tablet and desktop version.. would love to use my nexus to write in the evening.

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People are running away of whatsapp now for privacy reasons with Facebook and they add voice calls :D so funny :)

I'm satisfied with Viber and Telegram so NO thanks whatsapp..farewell