WhatsApp has been making the headlines recently, and the subject that brought the popular messaging app into the spotlight is the much-anticipated release of a voice calling feature that’s been rumored for quite a while. However, not everybody is on the happy side just yet, as iOS users are yet to benefit from the new feature. If you’ve been keeping an eye on the evolution of WhatsApp, you are probably having a déjà-vu now, as this is not the first time the Facebook-owned app lets iOS users out of the loop, the precedent being the rollout of the WhatsApp web browser version, which worked seamless on pretty much every device except for iOS ones. So, is WhatsApp holding a grudge on iOS users, or is there more to it?
After having just hit 800 million users, still under Mark Zuckerberg’s planned number of 1 billion, it’s safe to assume that WhatsApp is striving to keep all its users happy, including iOS ones, which make quite a significant chunk of the previously mentioned user base of 800 million. In fact, there’s a clear and logical explanation why the web browser version of WhatsApp refuses to work on iOS: it’s basically because Apple’s mobile environment lacks two essential components needed by the web app – background multi-tasking and push notifications.
Getting back to the voice calling feature, WhatsApp has announced it way back in February 2014, about the same time when the first talks about the company being acquired by Facebook surfaced. Indications of a beta version of the voice call feature being available to some users surfaced in February 2015, when a Reddit user allegedly presented some images that showed the new feature available in his version of the app. The user, which goes by the nickname of pradnesh07, spotted the feature in WhatsApp version 2.11.508, but after some experiments, he noted that upgrading to said version alone didn’t enable the feature for everyone; instead, one had to receive a voice call from a user that already had the feature activated to have the feature enabled himself. WhatsApp version 2.12.19 was the first to officially introduce the feature without requiring a so-called “invite call”, but iOS was still not on the support list. During the Facebook F8 conference, WhatsApp co-founder Brian Actor said that the voice calling feature will become available on iOS in a “couple weeks”. It is not known whether it took the developers more time to refine the iOS version, or there’s something about the iOS operating system, just as in the case of the browser version, which prevents the feature to work properly, but at least it’s officially confirmed that the feature will be available for iOS as well. Meanwhile, there are workarounds to get the voice call feature on iOS before the official build hits the App Store, but said ways require a jailbroken device and using a potentially-unstable beta version of the app.
Aside from iOS, other platforms are also eagerly awaiting the arrival of WhatsApp voice call feature: Symbian, BlackBerry, S40 and Windows Phone. While some app developers seem to focus only on the three major platforms – Android, iOS and Windows Phone – and sometimes Blackberry, WhatsApp will also be available for the Symbian and S40 platforms, which is likely to put WhatsApp on the same level as its main competitors: Viber, Skype, and Facebook’s own Messenger app.
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