As you know, the world’s most popular mobile messaging software, WhatsApp, is being purchased by the social networking giant Facebook for a staggering $16 billion. WhatsApp previously promised to introduce VoIP calling in the second quarter of this year, a move poised to turn the tables on competition like Viber, now owned by Rakuten.
While Viber last December unveiled a new Skype-like Viber Out feature for making low-cost outgoing calls to international mobile and landline numbers, a set of screenshots leaked on Friday purportedly depicting what WhatsApp’s VoIP calling will look like in its iPhone application, a free download from the App Store…
According to Italian Apple blog iPhoneItalia (Google translate), WhatsApp’s VoIP calling interface is heavily reminiscent of the new-look Phone app in the latest iOS 7.1 update, down to the circular End Call button. When a VoIP call comes in, the app displays your caller’s name, along with their photo and phone number. As the screenies attest, WhatsApp’s in-call features apparently include call-muting, directing the call through the speaker and switching back to a messaging session. Akin to other VoIP calling apps on the App Store, switching to another app while the VoIP session is in progress will prompt iOS to put a colored bar at the top so you can easily switch back to the call with a tap.
Another new feature: a camera button at the top of the keyboard which lets you quickly attach multiple photos to a text message. Sending multiple photos in the current WhatsApp version is a multi-tap affair (photo attachments are hidden behind the More button) so this minor tweak should be welcomed by fans of text messaging.
WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum confirmed at Mobile World Congress a month ago that“we’re going to introduce voice on WhatsApp in the second quarter of this year.” iOS and Android editions of WhatsApp will get voice calling first, he said, with Windows Phone and some BlackBerry phones getting the feature at a later stage.
According to The Guardian, VoIP calling between WhatsApp users should be free. Currently, WhatsApp has voicemail and lets you send recorded messages to contacts.
You can download WhatsApp free of charge in the App Store.
Although it got refreshed with iOS 7-friendly look back in December, WhatsApp still supports iPhone and iPod touch devices running – wait for it – iOS 4.3 or later.