WhatsApp is already super popular with more than 450 million monthly active users, all of which use the service for messaging friends and family. It’s so popular, in fact, that Facebook is coughing up $19 billion for the service, which has a team of 50 people working on it. The company isn’t sitting still, however, and its CEO confirmed recently the company is already working on adding new voice-over-IP (VoIP) features. That will make it more competitive against other offerings, like Skype and BlackBerry Messenger, which already offer that option.
iPhoneItalia published a couple of screenshots of the new feature on Friday, revealing options to activate the speaker phone, send messages while chatting and mute the call. It also has a really flat, iOS-like design, suggesting that a major UI overhaul might be in the works as well. So far, WhatsApp’s user interface is super basic, but that’s also what makes it so quick and easy to use. We hope it remains that way as additional features are added.
So far it doesn’t look like video calling is supported, though that doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility once the VoIP foundation is established. Facebook could really stand to benefit from this, adding yet another reason for its users to choose WhatsApp over any alternative on the market. The big question is still how Facebook is going to earn back that $19 billion investment, and we wonder if WhatsApp will eventually offer more premium options that cost money, too.