Johannesburg - Making phone calls using instant messaging service WhatsApp has quietly become a reality, albeit on an invite-only basis for Android users.
Until now, WhatsApp - which is owned by social media giant Facebook - has only been an instant messaging service, allowing users to send text messages to each other over a data network.
Last year, WhatsApp announced plans to introduce a calling feature as well.
And that feature is now available on an invite-only-basis for users of smart devices that are equipped with Google operating system Android.
Fin24’s technology team has managed to test out the calling feature in South Africa and it works.
While there is a slight delay on calls, the calling service could nevertheless change the global telecoms voice market especially as WhatsApp has over 700 million users.
How to get WhatsApp calling
To get the WhatsApp calling feature, you will need to firstly have an Android smartphone.
Secondly, you will need to download the latest version of WhatsApp for Android, which you can get by pointing your phone’s web browser to this link.
Once you’ve downloaded this APK package, you will need to go into the ‘Security Permission’ settings of your phone and tick the ‘Unknown Sources’ options. This lets you install apps from sources other than the Google Play Store.
Reports also indicate that you can download the latest version of WhatsApp on the Google Play Store, but the APK method worked successfully for the Fin24 tech team.
Then, once the APK package has downloaded to your phone, activate it and it will prompt you to install the new WhatsApp version. This version will keep your previous messages and contacts.
Now, here comes the tricky part. You will need to find somebody who has WhatsApp calling already activated and then get them to call you. This is the final step in having the WhatsApp calling feature on your phone.
Also, be aware of fake APK downloads of WhatsApp that could risk infecting your device with malware. Only download from the link provided above.