WhatsApp messaging service to add free voice calls

The announcement follows the messaging app's acquisition by Facebook for $19 million.
By Ananth Baliga  |  Feb. 24, 2014 at 2:48 PM
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BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum announced the addition of internet phone calls this spring on Apple and Samsung phones, and some time later on Blackberry, Microsoft and Nokia phones.

At present users can attach and send voice messages but cannot have a real-time conversation. The new feature would put the app in same league as popular chat apps in Asia such as South Korea's Line and China's WeChat.

"We are going to introduce voice in WhatsApp in the second quarter of this year," Koum said at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. "I think we have the best voice product out there. We use the least amount of bandwidth."

The announcement comes a week after a media frenzy surrounding Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp for $19 billion. Koum who has been at the center of the media hoopla chose to joke about the acquisition.

"Last week we added a new Facebook friend," Koum told the gathering. "I don't know if you guys heard."

Many have been concerned if the acquisition would mean Facebook will start selling advertising on the messaging service.

"There are no planned changes," said Koum. "Our vision and mission are aligned. We both want to make the world more connected."

The messaging service has 465 million users, nearly double that of Twitter and charges its users $1 a year after a free first year of service.

[USAToday] [ABC]

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