Chat app WhatsApp gift-wraps free yaps for Apple iPhone saps - The Register

WhatsApp is now offering free voice calls to iPhones, less than a month after the feature debuted for Android. Version 2.12.1 of the telephony app for iSO will allow Apple smartmobe users to talk over their internet connections.

The "WhatsApp Calling" feature is going to be rolled out "slowly over the next several weeks" according to the listing on the iTunes store, which was how the feature was propagated for Android.

Allowing users to speak to their "friends and family [...] even if they're in another country", WhatsApp calling will let users chatter over their Internet connection rather than burning up the voice minutes on their service provider's plan.

It is a service that will almost certainly upset telcos following the messaging app's hit on SMS revenues, perhaps deservingly so given the price of texts compared to the actual cost of transmitting them.

A Communications Market Report from Ofcom last year provides data on the decline of SMS and the growth of mobile instant messaging. An Ofcom spokesperson told The Register: "Consumers are increasingly using alternatives to traditional telecoms network, often sending messages and making calls over the internet."

This is why Ofcom is conducting "a strategic review of digital communications this year, so we can examine how these services affect competition and consumer choice in the telecoms markets that Ofcom regulates," according to its spokesperson.

"We expect to give an update on the review in the summer, and publish our provisional conclusions around the end of this year." the spokesperson added.

Earlier this month, Jan Koum, WhatsApp's CEO, took to Facebook to announce that the messaging service had "800,000,000 monthly active users."

This was more than double the figure cited back when the company was completely assimilated by Facebook for $21.8bn last year, after European regulators finally recognised their attempts to resist the ZuckerBorg were futile.

The Register contacted WhatsApp for comment and will update this article if we hear back from them. ®

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