WhatsApp’s long-awaited voice calling feature looks to be almost upon us after the company seemingly began testing it among a small number of Android users. A user on Reddit claims voice calling was enabled on his handset after he received a call from another tester.
“Pradnesh07” uploaded screenshots that show WhatsApp voice calling in action, and how it is integrated into the Android app. It appears that the interface is divided up into three tabs — calls, chats, and contacts — and switching between them takes just a tap. During a call, there are options for speakerphone, mute, and to send an instant message.
For now, this appears to be a very limited test. Pradnesh07 reports that the feature only showed up for him inside the latest beta version of WhatsApp for Android after he had received a call from another WhatsApp user who was already testing it.
“A friend of mine called me, I had to answer the call, then force close it,” he explains. “Some people reported the feature [activated] after this step but I needed to reinstall the app.” Naturally, the Reddit thread is now filled with requests from other WhatsApp users who want Pradnesh07 to call them to activate the feature on their handset.
If you can live without WhatsApp voice calling for just a little while longer, though, it seems the easiest option is to just wait for it. WhatsApp is clearly preparing for its release with a limited trial run, so unless it runs into any issues, a larger rollout to all users should happen in the very near future.
WhatsApp originally promised us voice calling for the second quarter of 2014, but CEO Jan Koum revealed back in October that his team had run into technical issues that had delayed its launch until 2015. The company, which is now owned by Facebook, is hoping to optimize the service so that it runs even on affordable devices in emerging markets with only 2G connectivity.