Long-time instant messaging company Whatsapp is testing the waters in another area of our smartphones – officially allowing voice calls through its app.
The move further increases the app’s dominance over pretty much every other instant messenger in the business, and also draws problems into your phone network’s path as well.
The update hasn’t changed too much about the appearance of the app as a whole, but the feature is there – you just have to look for it.
By simply going to your chosen contact’s profile, you’ll now have the option next to their phone number to make a Whatsapp call.
Your phone will then manage the rest of the work as if it were a regular call, only through the Whatsapp user interface.
Calls work strictly through your 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi connection, so you don’t need any network signal if you’re connected to a Wi-Fi source.
Whilst this all sounds like good news to all of us smartphone users, it’s pretty awful for our mobile networks.
Whilst contract deals have been kept largely intact for a good few years now, it seems that apps like Whatsapp are starting to cause some damage to them.
Whilst text messages have been overtaken by instant messaging in usage rates, calls were originally seen as a decent money-maker for networks.
This is now under serious threat, especially considering the genuine quality Whatsapp calls have showed so far. Conversations are clear and calls aren’t prone to getting dropped either, making it a reliable service, rather than a buggy gimmick.
This potentially means that your next contract should be cheaper than ever before – mainly because calls and minutes will be much less valuable than in previous years, with more emphasis on data.
Whilst contract tariffs are under threat, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see them disappear completely – even with the continued growth of Whatsapp.
Ultimately, networks will need to make changes to their deals – most likely involving more monthly rolling deals, which are easily tailored to users’ needs.
Other ideas also suggest coupling our smartphones with wearable technology – another upcoming area of mobile tech, ending the frustration of paying a high price for what’s essentially an accessory for our phones.
Whatsapp is definitely the market leader right now when it comes to instant messaging, with 700 million active users. Facebook purchased the service for $20 billion, and its own messenger service isn’t too far behind – with around 600 million active users.
Other competition on the voice call market includes the likes of Viber, but considering the money and brand behind Whatsapp – it’s unlikely to be much of a fight.
Either way, it seems that you’re less likely to be using up all of those monthly minutes anymore!
Written by Luke Hatfield