WhatsApp Rolling Out Beta Version of Free Voice Calls on Invite-Only Basis Amid Access Problems

WhatsApp is rolling out its free voice calling feature in India, its second biggest user base after America, and the beta version is being tested by a limited number of people on invite-only basis.The revelation comes from a reader on Reddit titled, WhatsApp introduces and starts rolling out calling feature” submitted on Jan. 31 under username pradnesh07.

Giving some screenshots from the new updated UI, he said the new calling feature is limited to “invite-only” users. People can download the app from its website and not from the Playstore or any other version being circulated, reports said.

whatsappIt means a person with the call feature needs to “call” another person who wants to start using the free voice calling (VOIP) feature.

The person on Reddit, however, said, “The guy who sent me the invite confirmed that it works on other phones on other roms and other OS and in other countries. I am not sure how the invite thing works as yet.”

He, however, made a quick video and asked users to share it instead of bugging him to send an invite. “There is no use asking me for invites right now, I don’t know how this invite thing works exactly,” he himself noted at the end.

However, another participant on the discussion said, “I tried sending the call request, the call went through but they aren’t getting the new UI. Can someone on lollipop help me confirm that it works only on lollipop right now? Because I am not able to pin point the issue. Its not region locked feature either, tried with few Indians.”

Another remarks said, “I cant seem to send invites to other people, the only thing i can ensure is that it works in India for people running Lollipop 5.0.x on a Nexus 5. Other indians without the earlier combo don’t get it. I want to try it with some other person in another country running Lollipop on Nexus 5. Hit me up if you have. Others calm down with the requests till I figure out why isn’t everyone able to use the calling feature.”

Also pradesh07 says, “If I do manage to figure out how to enable, I will share the steps. Right now don’t ping me… I am trying to figure it out.”

While the online discussion on WhatsApp VOIP feature beta version is making rounds, few things are getting clear for tech-savy app users and developers.

Firstly, it is confined to Android Lollipop 5.0 version and was successfully used by a Nexus 5 smartphone user, accessible via the new version 2.11.508 of the WhatsApp. Secondly, WhatsApp is not in a hurry to push its VOIP feature in India immediately pending the TRAI’s reaction as its competitors have complained to the regulator on free VOIP apps.

In addition, it is not available through Google Play Store, but can be downloaded only from the official WhatsApp website on INVITE. In case, some people are able to access it and install on their smartphones, then they will see a new icon next to chats and contacts tabs.

However, WhatsApp free VOIP is set to send chill across the spine of established telecom companies which are vying for spectrum auction to be held next month with huge money involved to pay the government. Apart from WhatsApp, Skype, Line and Viber are already offering free communication service to its users but once the FaceBook-owned popular app rolls out in India, many others will be forced to reckon their future.


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