Science and Tech


WhatsApp Will Add Voice Calling Later This Year

The app will add voice calling in the second quarter of this year. This move is the app's first big change since Facebook acquired the company.
Posted at 2:52 PM, Feb 24, 2014

WhatsApp doesn't want to leave the spotlight just yet.

Following last week's news that Facebook will acquire the company for $19 billion, many asked what's next for WhatsApp.

Well, its CEO Jan Koum announced Monday the messaging app will soon add voice services. The new feature will reportedly launch on Android and iOS in the second quarter. (Via YouTube /DLDConference)

The news broke — slightly ironically — during a Mobile World Congress event, a conference for mobile carriers.

The addition of phone calls to the app brings WhatsApp up to speed with similar services Kakao and Viber.

But perhaps more importantly, voice features allow WhatsApp to potentially challenge traditional cell providers like Verizon.

Koum reportedly said during the conference: "We use the least amount of bandwidth out there, and have optimised the hell out of it. We've made sure the quality is there, though, just like the messaging functions of WhatsApp." (Via The Guardian)

During his talk, Koum also gave some updated stats.  

It now has a reported 330 million daily users and 465 million active users. That's 15 million more than was reported at the time of the Facebook buy.

And according to The Verge, it's probably going up: "The app has done well by offering inexpensive messaging services where messaging is traditionally quite expensive, and doing the same for phone calls would likely be a boon for growth."

But where is the win for Facebook? It just spent all the money, right?

The New York Times writes, "Analysts say the move also could lead Facebook to revamp its own mobile offerings, which have centered on software called Home that has won few fans since launching last year."

But TechCrunch says Koum was sure to reiterate during his talk that WhatsApp isn't changing. Still no ads. 

We're still going to give that a heavy "We'll see." But for now, WhatsApp should celebrate. After all, Monday marks its fifth birthday.