It is now possible to make phone calls through WhatsApp Messenger on iPhones and tablets equipped with Apple’s iOS operating system. The latest version of WhatsApp for iPhone includes a Voice over Internet Protocol, or VOIP, feature.
This feature, which is named WhatsApp Voice Calling on iPhone, lets you call any other WhatsApp User in the world that has the same solution for free, 9to5Mac blogger Zac Hall reported. The feature is similar to a solution found in Facebook’s Messenger app for iPhone. WhatsApp started rolling out the new feature in April.
Some reviewers are so impressed with WhatsApp Voice Calling that they believe it could become the industry standard for VOIP. A slightly different version of the service is available for Android.
How to Install and Utilize WhatsApp Voice Calling on iPhone
Although the “call button” on WhatsApp’s iOS version has been available for some time, it was only recently activated. Unfortunately, most iPhone users will have to make a number of changes in order to activate WhatsApp Voice Calling.
The process is a little complicated, but it is well worth your time because it could reduce your long distance phone bill. Here are the steps that you will have to take to install WhatsApp Voice Calling on an iOS device:
Make sure that your device has been jailbroken. Jailbreaking is a slang term for modifying your iPhone or iPad so it can run non-Apple programs. There are a number of excellent guides online that can help you do this, including this excellent tutorial from the Redmond Pie blog: How To Jailbreak iOS 8.1.2 Using TaiG [Guide].
Once your device has been jailbroken, you will have to download and install the latest version of WhatsApp for iOS from the App Store. Only that version contains the WhatsApp Voice Calling feature. To install it, follow these instructions:
Install and launch Cydia on your phone. Cydia is a directory of jailbroken resources for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. You will need to use one of the popular Cydia installers found online. A popular one is Cydiainstaller.net.
Once Cydia is up and running, use Mobile Safari to navigate to this address: https://dev2.whatsapp.net/ios/WhatsApp/
Download and install WhatsApp Beta by tapping the link at the bottom of the page.
Once the download is complete, launch WhatsApp as usual from your phone.
If the installation is successful, you should see the Calling Button on your WhatsApp.
The only way to know if the installation was successful will be to have somebody call you on WhatsApp using another VOIP solution, such as Skype. You can also test WhatsApp by calling your iOS device from a computer equipped with a service like Skype or borrow somebody else’s phone and use it to call your phone. The call should come in just like a normal phone call; it will even use your ringtone.
Once that has been done, you should make at least one call over WhatsApp to make sure it is working.
To call somebody over WhatsApp, all you’ll have to do is scroll down your contact list until you find a name with a call icon next to the chat button. Simply click on the call button to talk to them. If WhatsApp Voice is active, the call should begin almost immediately.
WhatsApp Call Quality
Even though they are practically free, news reports indicate that the quality of WhatsApp calls can be questionable. TechCrunch reported that WhatsApp calls loaded faster than Skype but sometimes lacked sound and quality.
One problem is that wireless phone systems in many parts of the world simply are not set up for solutions such as WhatsApp Calling. VOIP calls take up a lot of bandwidth, which means the service may not work in some locations, including rural areas with limited mobile phone service.
Not surprisingly, you may need to move to an area with a strong signal. WhatsApp Voice Calling may not work in buildings, halls, or other areas where something is blocking the signal.
WhatsApp Calling may not work on calls to some countries, including regions in Europe, Middle East, and Latin America, because of limitations to the phone systems there, TechCrunch reported. There is also a possibility that some mobile service providers could limit the service because it might cut into their long-distance profits.
You might be able to get better quality over WhatsApp Calling by using a Wi-Fi connection rather than a mobile connection. Be careful with that because some Wi-Fi systems will require you to get the administrator’s permission. It might also be possible to make VOIP calls over your computer by using WhatsApp Webb.
Interesting Features of WhatsApp Calling for iPhone
The most interesting feature of WhatsApp Calling is that you will only see the names of other WhatsApp users that will call you. Anybody that calls you on another VOIP solution, such as Skype, will come up as Unknown, and no picture will appear.
This occurs because WhatsApp only accepts other WhatsApp Caller IDs. It is currently not compatible with other services’ caller IDs. Some observers expect this feature to be added to the service in the future.
Some people will like the lack of caller ID because it offers a higher level of privacy. Some users may dislike it because they cannot see who is calling them. A WhatsApp call will work like any other call; you’ll have the ability to accept and decline and will have such options as mute, speaker, and message.
The Future of WhatsApp Voice Calling
As you can see, WhatsApp Voice Calling for iOS is a work in progress that is far from complete. The solution is brand new, and many of the features are still in beta testing.
That means almost anything about it could change, including the quality. The reviewers report that it is easy to use and loads fast, but some users report having a hard time hearing voice calls over the app. Some people also report that calls have broken up, even in areas with strong signals.
Despite its limitations, WhatsApp Voice Calling is a welcome addition to this popular messenger solution. iPhone users that want to cut their phone bills would be well advised to give it a try.