Is the WhatsApp calling function officially activated

WhatsApp Call: We tried the new call function for the first time

Calling via WhatsApp
Image: Exactly one year ago Jan Koum, the CEO of WhatsApp, announced the introduction of a VoIP function for the popular messenger at the MWC in Barcelona. He originally announced that this feature would be introduced in 2014. However, it did not come to that. A beta test for WhatsApp's telephony function has been running for over a month.

But if you don't have an invite you have to stay outside for the time being: Only those Android users who have been invited to the beta test by another user who has already activated this feature can make calls via WhatsApp. Allegedly, this procedure only works if WhatsApp is currently opening its server for new beta testers.

Calling via WhatsApp
Image: Obviously we were lucky: Today we received an activation call from India at the right time. After we had ended the call, the user interface for the telephony function was now also activated for us. We already succeeded in activating the new UI last month by changing a settings file on WhatsApp. However, we have not yet been able to make any calls ourselves. This has changed now.

New interface functional after activation call

WhatsApp calls
Image: We were able to initiate calls by selecting the "Calls" tab and pressing the telephone receiver symbol. All contacts we could call are now listed. This is by far not all WhatsApp users from our contact list, but only those with an Android smartphone. In addition, a WhatsApp version must be installed that already contains the telephony feature. This is already the case with the current version from the Playstore (2.11.528). Calls can be taken easily by these users. Missed WhatsApp calls are also displayed.

After hanging up, however, the new interface was not activated for all call partners. This only worked in our test if the latest beta version (2.11.552) was installed from the WhatsApp website. We even managed to permanently activate the call function on a smartphone with Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean). Android 4.4 (KitKat) or even 5.0 (Lollipop) are obviously not a mandatory requirement for the new feature.

Start calls directly from the chat

WhatsApp call history
Image: Another possibility to start a call is via the telephone receiver symbol directly in the chat. Without asking whether a conventional cellular connection is desired, the phone call is started via WhatsApp. If you try to call an iPhone or Windows Phone user in this way, however, you get the error message that the person you are talking to needs to update their app. We noticed the function that an incoming call is also rejected by tapping on the message symbol in the lower center. A ready-made message can be sent in which you let the caller know why you are currently unavailable. Anyone who makes a call using a headset or sets the conversation to loud via the loudspeaker can also answer other WhatsApp messages during the call. A green status bar is displayed, which enables you to return to the call.

Good voice quality for calls via WLAN and UMTS

Reply by message
Image: When we made calls via WLAN, the voice quality was good to very good. The interlocutor was clear and easy to understand. We were also able to make calls with HSPA + in a UMTS network via mobile communications. The voice quality was a bit worse here than in the calls we made via WLAN. Sometimes there were small delays in the transmission. Overall, however, you could still have a good chat. During a first test in a slow 2G network (EDGE), WhatsApp did not even want to establish a connection. When it finally worked, the phone call consisted mostly of scraps of words.

This is probably also the reason why the feature has not yet been officially introduced. WhatsApp employee Neeraj Arora made it clear to the Indian online magazine BGR India that the feature would only be officially introduced as soon as it worked satisfactorily. There is obviously a lot of work going on at the moment, because since the telephony function was activated for the first users at the end of January (version 2.11.508), several new beta versions of the messenger have been made available (current status: version 2.11.552). An official introduction can therefore be expected soon.