From the looks of things, Whatsapp is going to introduce VoIP features very soon.
Clue one: Whatsapp now asks for Bluetooth permissions, presumably to link to your headset. Clue two: A ‘Whatsapp Calls’ folder now appears in the file storage system after the latest update. Clue three: a report by AndroidWorld, which shows the various features and screenshots of the new calling feature.
Whatsapp VoIP would allows calls over Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G
The AndroidWorld report is actually based on code in the latest update on Whatsapp’s site, where the company pushes new features before they hit the Play Store. While the update doesn’t enable voice calls, it gives a glimpse into the features that we can expect when it does inevitably hit the market.
Right now, it seems like you’ll be able to call through Whatsapp over Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G networks. A call recording feature which allows for recording and playback is also available. A major factor in adoption would probably be if Whatsapp introduces charges for voice calling.
Voice calling in Whatsapp could prove to be a major headache for telcos
Whatsapp, which Facebook bought for $16 billion a few months back, has over 600 million users globally. The ubiquity of the app can be judged by the fact that Whatsapp has already replaced SMS in many countries and that trend only seems to be continuing. In fact, Whatsapp is used to send 50% more messages than SMS globally.
The addition of voice calling would undoubtedly increase their numbers and give serious competition to Skype, Viber and other similar apps. It’s also going to be an interesting conundrum for telcos.
Mobile carriers are already worried because people have simply started to replace texts with Whatsapp and calls with apps like Skype, Line and Viber, putting a significant dent in revenues.
Some telcos in countries like India have actually proposed different data packages for VoIP services. It remains to be seen if the impact of VoIP in Whatsapp would be significant enough for Pakistani telcos to take similar steps.