WhatsApp live voice calling service coming soon, in 2Q 2014

By Alexandra Burlacu | Feb 24, 2014 10:22 AM EST

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Popular messaging platform WhatsApp will soon be offering a new voice calling feature to its 465 million monthly users, the company has announced.

Just a few days after Facebook acquired WhatsApp, it seems that things are already starting to heat up. Speaking at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2014 trade show on Monday, Feb. 24, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum announced that a new voice calling service will become available in the second quarter of this year.

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The upcoming voice service will launch on Android and iOS this spring, with BlackBerry set to follow sometime later.

"We are going to introduce voice in WhatsApp in the second quarter of the year," Koum told MWC attendees. "I think we have the best voice product out there."

WhatsApp does currently have a voice service, but it's only available in note form. The new function will be live, allowing users to chat in real-time. The feature is by no means unheard of, as BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Skype, Line, and many other messaging apps have been offering voice calls for quite some time. With the upcoming addition, WhatsApp will become even more competitive and likely boost its growth even further.

Just a few days ago, Facebook took the tech world by surprise when it announced that it acquired WhatsApp for a whopping $19 billion, a deal that is widely considered one of the industry's biggest ever. Although it now has a new parent company, WhatsApp said that nothing will change for users. The deal stirred some concerns, especially about potential ads coming to the service, but the company promised that it not the case.

"WhatsApp will remain autonomous and operate independently," reads a blog post on Wednesday, Feb. 19, announcing the new deal. "You can continue to use WhatsApp no matter where in the world you are, or what smartphone you're using. And you can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication. There would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product."

"Our team has always believed that neither cost and distance should ever prevent people from connecting with their friends and loved ones, and won't rest until everyone, everywhere is empowered with that opportunity."

While WhatsApp may not be especially popular in the U.S., it is among the top services of its kind in other countries, both in Europe and in emerging markets. Koum further touted at MWC that WhatsApp currently has a whopping 465 million monthly users and 330 daily users worldwide. In other words, WhatsApp has twice as many users as Twitter, for instance.

With the addition of a live voice calling service, WhatsApp will surely become even more popular and more widely used. Koum did not offer a specific date for when the new feature would start to roll out, but the second quarter is just around the corner.



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