Is WhatsApp adding voicemail and video calls to its armoury?

29 Apr 2016

Reports have emerged that WhatsApp is continuing its push to handle all your daily communication needs, with a voicemail addition in the works.

WhatsApp has around 1bn users, it has sped up the demise of SMS in most areas with internet access and it’s ease of use and continually evolving service is threatening more areas of communication.

Last year, it brought in a voice-calling feature, before adding end-to-end encryption for its entire audience earlier this year.

Rumours of video calls – the next logical step – emerged throughout last year before January brought heavy evidence that it was on the way. But, as if that wasn’t enough, now it seems voicemail is coming soon too.

PhoneRadar spotted a few features that look to be in the works, with voicemail, call back and even the sending of Zip files looking ever more likely.

The call back option looks the handiest as it likely lets you return calls without opening your WhatsApp app on your screen. The voicemail features will be shown during calls.

Free and easy

Earlier this year, the service’s nominal 99c annual fee, which wasn’t ever really recouped, was shelved, meaning it’s ‘free’ for 1bn users. As with any Facebook-owned service, though, you’re probably doing the work for the company without realising it.

At the time, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum said 2016 would be a big year for the company’s upgrades, intimating financial tools will be added to some degree.

“Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organisations that you want to hear from,” he said. “That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight.

“We all get these messages elsewhere today – through text messages and phone calls – so we want to test new tools to make this easier to do on WhatsApp, while still giving you an experience without third-party ads and spam.”

It has added formatting tools lately, too, but there are still many elements of WhatsApp, tricks and tips to improve the service that you may not have heard of before. Check some of them out here.

Facebook agreed to acquire Whatsapp in 2014 for an estimated $19bn. Koum founded WhatsApp with Brian Acton, whom he got to know when they both worked at Yahoo.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic